Structure and Contents

The book comprises seven logically structured chapters (including Chapter 1). Here below, we briefly explain the chapters’ content and contribution.

Chapter 2 describes a broad conceptual background of clusters and COs. In the beginning we present the older and contemporary theories on the establishment and development of industrial clusters to underlie the context of the implemented research. The main ideas of Porter’s concept of a cluster are presented in juxtaposition with various approaches in defining a cluster provided in the scientific literature. The next part of the chapter addresses the specific nature of a CO as an instrument of cluster policy supporting the development of a specific cluster. Moreover, we describe the relationships among a CO and previously discussed concepts and approaches. Subsequently, issues related to the development of cooperation within COs are described. Finally, we discuss the impact of COs on increasing the competitiveness of cluster companies.

Chapter 3 discusses the theoretical foundations of cooperation - one of the two most basic types of relations that occur between entities embedded in the economic field (the other is competition). The first part of the chapter refers to the necessary terminological clarifications and identification of factors that are conducive (catalysts) and not conducive to the establishment and development of cooperation processes in organizations (with particular emphasis on COs). The second part of the chapter presents those theories of cooperation which, according to the authors, are best suited to describe the cooperation of entities within COs. Three separate blocks of the theory were established: “structure/ sector”, “resources” and “relations”, which present some of the most promising - from the point of view of the analysis of COs - approaches.

Chapter 4 concerns the research methodology: the research paradigm (interpretative-symbolic) and the research strategy. The project was based on abduction and grounded theory (which is why the focus is on discussing both of these issues in the context of the conducted research in COs), as well as case studies. In the second part of the chapter, the research procedure that has been applied to design and implement the qualitative research is presented, including the method of selection of the research sample, the technique of data collection, the analysis and interpretation, and the methodological regime.

Chapter 5 is devoted to discussing the results of qualitative research and, above all, to present the theoretical concept of development of cooperative relationships in COs generated on the basis of the conducted research. The main categories selected in the coding process were used to present this concept: levels of cooperation, the roles of COs (the perspective of organization at the second level of aggregation) and the involvement of members (the perspective of organization at the first level of aggregation). The generated concept was presented in the form of a theoretical discussion conducted at a fairly high level of generality, to focus on the most important elements and relations between them.

Chapter 6 consists of three case studies, which are a practical exemplification of the generated concept of the trajectory of cooperative relationships in COs. COs described as a part of individual case studies are located in the territory of European countries: Hungary, Romania, and Germany. Such a geographical diversity of COs enables to show the universality of the proposed concept.

Chapter 7 summarizes the major findings and provides theoretical and practical contribution, current limitations and directions for further research.

The presented book presents a wide array of aspects dealing with broadly defined clustering, hence it may claim to have an international appeal. It is addressed in particular to those countries where cluster policy is developing. The book is aimed principally at the audience of scholars and academic professionals from a wide variety of disciplines but mainly those who are concerned with issues of economic development and growth, determinants of economic development, and the role of clustering in broadly defined socio-economic development. The second group of audience the book may appeal to are coordinators and facilitators of COs and cluster members. The book presents the most up- to-date studies on cluster cooperation, therefore the third group of audience of this publication comprises public authorities at various levels involved in the social, economic and/or technological issues of both developed and developing countries, whose decisions may affect the broadly understood cluster policy.

For each of the above-mentioned groups of audience, the book should be a valuable supplement to the already possessed knowledge of cooperation in higher-level organizations on the example of COs.

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