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Evaluation of Clusters, Networks and Cluster Policies – Challenges and Implementation

(2013) - iit perspektive 14
Sonja Kind/ Gerd Meier zu Köcker

Cluster policy has been enjoying high popularity for many years now as it has become an increasingly important instrument of modern business and trade promotion. In order to make sure that the EU will henceforward allocate resources from the Structural Funds, the member states, and the regions, respectively have to present innovation strategies for an intelligent specialization. Thus, the role of clusters in Europe will become ever more important in the future as they are considered as the central element of Smart Specialization.

In order to record the effects at company, cluster and regional level, and thus to meet the high demands of a valid evaluation, in theory, clusters would actually have to be analyzed by using an extensive mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. The methods available are numerous and range from case studies to network and econometric analyses. In practice, such an approach is failing not only due to the related costs and time spent, but first and foremost also due to the lack of available of data and their insufficient quality. A query of sensitive company data, for instance, will mostly lead to very low response rates and would thus make an analysis impossible.

In the context of several evaluation projects, the iit – Institute for Innovation and Technology (Berlin) has developed an applied a practice-oriented strategy for the evaluation of clusters and cluster policy. The approach takes all levels into account that are relevant for the clusters: the cluster policy in place, the cluster management organisation as well as the cluster actors.

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