Data Collection Techniques

At stage 2, the study took the form of a longitudinal study, which can be described as a diachronic panel study, as it was held following the same procedures, techniques and tools on the same units (in three selected

Cluster organization name

Sector

Voivodeship

Creation date

Number of members

Territorial

scope

Type

ArchEnerg International Renewable Energy and Construction Innovation Cluster

Energy

Hungary

2007

80

National

Bottom-up

Green Energy Innovative Biomass Cluster

Energy

Romania

2011

80

National

Bottom-up

Netzwerk Energie 8c Umwelt e.V. (NEU e.V.)

Energy

Germany

2011

74

Regional

Top-down

Source: Authors’ own elaboration.

COs), accounting for two measurement times with an interval of 3 years. At this stage, it was necessary to select such a main method of data collection, which would be simultaneously communicative (the data for analysis will be collected through information exchange, communication between the researcher and the studied individual) and standardized (each of the units will be studied in the same manner, with the use of a single tool, i.e., the same set of questions addressed to the studied individual and the same multiple choice answers). All of these conditions were fulfilled by the technique of a standardized survey interview used in the study, prepared with a standardized list of closed questions (categorized and structured). The aim of the interview was to collect detailed data within previously defined categories. Thanks to the used interview form, it was possible to make comparisons in two dimensions - among the studied COs (in two measurement times), but primarily within a chosen CO with respect to the dynamics of its changes over a set time period. The interviews were held between June 2017 and April 2020 with representatives of coordinators of the three COs selected for the study. All of the respondents have agreed to participate in the study. A considerable part of the questions were deliberately repeated in order to map out the development of cooperative ties in the studied COs. Because of the process of maturity of the generate concept, the questionnaire of the interview used in 2020 contained additional, more in-depth questions (Table 4.4).

Questions from the interview questionnaire may be assigned to four main thematic areas from which the first contained references to basic information on a given CO. The further three areas corresponded to selected elements of the generated concept of the trajectory of development, i.e. levels of cooperation (main objectives and cooperation makers), roles and specific objectives and commitment in the CO.

The survey interview was supplemented with a group interview held within workshop sessions organized for coordinators of five COs participating in the COSMENERG project. The sessions were held on July 4-5 at the Polish Academy of Science Research Center in Jablonna, Energy Conversion and Renewable Resources (Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Gdansk) and focused on cluster cooperation in the value chain. 13 representatives of the boards of management of the COs participated (3 from Baltic Eco-energy Cluster, 1 from Ecopanonia, 2 from NEU e.V., 4 from ArchEnerg Cluster and 3 from Green Energy Cluster). During the meeting, the authors have discussed the results of the previously held interviews, which formed the basis for a moderated discussion on the possibilities of applying the developed theoretical concept in COs. The opinions and comments of the participants have enriched the gather research material and enabled the researchers to perform the first empirical test on the usefulness of the generated concept.

The third technique for collecting data, i.e. document analysis, complemented the conducted interviews. The period for document analysis covered the entire study period itself and encompasses the years 2017-2020. Its purpose was to investigate the state of development of the studied COs and their specific nature, with a particular focus on the areas highlighted in the generated concept. Document analysis was performed with a view to showcasing the elements of the generated concept in a specific substantive context, i.e. within a specific category of research subjects, albeit ones also embedded in a broader context defined by the specific political system, economic system, social structure, or the historical processes of the time, etc. In effect, the analyzed publications can be divided into two groups: historical publications pertaining to cluster politics in Europe and materials pertaining to the COs included in the study sample. The analysis covered, among others, science and popular science publications, research reports and expert opinions, as well as internal documents of the surveyed entities, their promotional materials and web resources (private websites of COs, Facebook, Linkedln, etc.).

Data Analysis and Interpretation Techniques

In the course of the study, document analysis was held with a focus on the six derived core categories, which formed the framework of the generated concept of the trajectory of development of cooperative relationships in COs. In the first step, the obtained data were grouped into the derived categories and analyzed from the perspective of their cohesion with the categories. In the second step, the researchers analyzed the similarities and differences of data falling into specific categories. Then, the authors made comparisons within each of the COs by accounting for the two measurement times, following which they made comparisons between the three analyzed cases. This enabled them to establish the level of the development of cluster cooperation in the studied COs, accounting for the fulfillment of the defined main objectives, detailed objectives and performed roles.

 
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