The Specific Nature of Cluster Cooperation
The Components of Cluster Organizations and Their Internal and External Relationships
COs are specific structures that can be described as “second-level collective entities”, which means they are organizations operating at a higher level of aggregation, consist of other, smaller, first-level collective entities. The entity that manages a CO is its coordinator, i.e. an entity which organizes and coordinates the development of interactions within the CO, as well as provides specialized services for cluster members. The authors of the “Greenbook” describe the entity that manages the implementation of a Cl using the term “facilitator” (Solvell et al., 2003) or “cluster manager” (Lindqvist et ah, 2013). In the first phase of a CO development, the role of the coordinator is most often played by the entity involved in its launch (e.g. the leading entrepreneur), but as the
Figure 2.1 Number of publications selected with the keyword “cluster”. Source: Authors’ own study based on Web of Science Core Collection (the figures quoted are as at March 21, 2020).
Figure 2.2 Number of publications selected with the keywords “cluster initiative” and “cluster organization”.
Source: Authors’ own study based on Web of Science Core Collection (the figures quoted are as at March 21, 2020).
organization develops, a specially appointed coordinator (often with appropriate infrastructure facilities) takes over.
In addition to the coordinator, institutional members (cluster actors) are the second category of entities in COs. These are entities functioning within the CO including enterprises, support institutions belonging to the R&D sector and business support infrastructure, as well as public administration. Membership in CIs is voluntary (which means that entities that by definition are the actors of such a structure, in particular enterprises and scientific units, can apply), yet limited due to the specific nature of a given CO resulting from its geographical scope and business profile. These two determinants, which are also the main attributes of a cluster (geographical and sectoral concentration), determine the main criteria (e.g. the location of the business and the industry sector) for selecting members. COs may set high barriers to entry by establishing additional restrictions on membership such as market position and innovation potential of entities, recommendation of other members or, as stated by Solvell et al. (2003), the current stage in the value chain (competitor, supplier, customer), ownership structure (domestic and foreign enterprises) or the size of the enterprise. Fig. 2.3 presents the main components of COs, indicating their mutual relations.
COs are composed of delegated representatives who are to maintain contact with the CO. Despite the fact that each of the employees responsible for the contact with a given CO and the cluster partners acts in accordance with the instructions of his/her parent enterprise and their main goal is to undertake activities focused primarily on generating
Figure 2.3 Cluster organizations - the components and the internal and external relations.
Source: Authors’ own elaboration.
benefits for their own enterprise, it seems appropriate to separate analytically and symbolically this category of employees from the entire structure of an organization. Similarly to the coordinator of a CO, employees of the enterprises by being a part of a given CO have a relatively extensive freedom in terms of their activities. In addition to establishing purely institutional relations (e.g. concluding contracts at the enterprise level), actors directly involved in the life of the CO establish and maintain personal relationships with the representatives of the other components of the CO and the representatives of the CO itself (e.g. with the coordinator). Therefore, the inter-institutional relations should be distinguished from the personal ones established among people representing individual enterprises or institutions in COs. These contacts take not only different forms but also translate into various effects both for the directly involved units and for the institutions they belong to.
The symbol of a man as a part of an institution or an organization presented in Fig. 2.3 denotes the particular, non-institutional level (it also indicates the need to accept the strong influence of individuals on the nature and effectiveness of actions taken by the institutions they represent). This kind of duality of relations established not only within COs but all structures that are aggregates of units is presented in the figure in the form of two types of arrows that symbolize different channels of creating collaboration in COs. The darker arrows illustrate the personal channels of relationships that are established among people directly involved in the activities of the CO (it concerns both the representatives of cluster members as well as the coordinator or people who are a part of the coordinating team). As far as the thinner arrows are concerned, they symbolize the cooperative relations established at the institutional level.
To reflect the complete spectrum of the discussed matter, Fig. 2.3 should include entities that do not belong to the CO yet maintain relations with the CO (indicating the external relations of COs). It is vital to emphasize that the network of relations between a CO and its members may include many non-business entities such as R&D institutions, schools (of various levels of education) and business environment institutions (e.g. park structures, incubators, technology transfer centers, financial institutions), enterprises (including various associations of enterprises such as other COs, chambers of commerce) and public authorities. The non-member entities can support a CO in the implementation of its activities as well as use the solutions it has developed. A region within which a CO operates is the largest structure (however, in a much broader sense, it is the country and the socio-economic background) which denotes its geographical scope and the spectrum of its activities because it includes the very Cl as well as the companies that constitute it (together with the people operating within them).
The concept of stakeholders in COs distinguishes internal and external stakeholders. The first group comprises entities that are the core of a CO, i.e. the coordinator, cluster enterprises and the other cluster members (such as R&D institutions, business-related institutions and public administration units). The group of external stakeholders (the closer ones owing to their relations with a given industry or region) include enterprises from a given industry (yet not members of the CO), R&D sector institutions operating in the region, business environment institutions, local government units (and other organizations related to the industry) as well as the local community. The group of distant stakeholders is mainly comprised of the central authority and its subordinate institutions at the central level as well as domestic and foreign enterprises, R&D units and non-governmental institutions (related to the industry in which a given CO operates).