Clusters Don’t Work

According to Europe’s Centre for Economic Policy Research, at least. According to them, an “analysis of 1,604 companies in the five largest Norwegian cities found that regional and national clusters are “irrelevant for innovation.” On the contrary, international cooperation or “global pipelines” were identified as the main drivers of innovation.”

Oh no! Well, this officially marks the end of the Prosperity Partnership and the Regional Economic Strategy.

Or maybe not. Look, I love studies and all, but if I believed every study then I’d be bathing myself in a giant tub of acai at this very minute. Plus, I’ve seen lots of examples right here at home of clusters working quite well, thank you very much. So, let’s not start dismantling the five years worth of success that we’ve had in building cluster strategies in this region.

But, it does raise one valid point, which is that economic development can’t just be about hype and hope. We actually need accountability to measure our impact, and that impact has to be increased jobs, increased innovation and an improved business climate. I think that the work we’re about to start on the new Regional Economic Strategy will contain an increased focus on showing how what we’re doing actually results in on-the-ground, tangible impact. But that strategy will still be focused on clusters. And no Norwegian study can make me change my mind!


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