The Perspective of COs: Roles at Various Levels of Development

The further parts of the empirical data discussed below fall under two categories, which point to the general roles of COs (category 4), as well as their specific objectives (category 5), which also define their specific roles. Both categories (roles and specific objectives) have been assigned to specific levels of cooperation (see Tab. 5.6).

The below points go into details on all the roles and specific objectives of COs, which have been identified for each level of cooperation on the basis of the empirical research.

Roles and Specific Objectives at Cooperation Level I

Cooperation level I - “Integration at the unit level” - the researchers identified three specific objectives (based on the tripartite division: Direct resource supplier - Broker - Integrator): providing access to information on the market and potential partners, facilitating the exchange of information, and social integration within the CO.

The most important role for the studied COs was - as the name of this level itself suggests - integration (the CO as a Social integrator), which at

Cat. 1. Levels of cooperation

Cat. 4. General roles

Cat. 5. Specific objectives (specific roles)

Level I “Integration at the unit level”

Direct resource supplier

Providing access to information (1.1. Informer)


Facilitating the exchange of information (1.2. Information exchange platform)


Social integration within the CO (1.3. Social integrator)

Level 11 “Allocation and integration at the process level”

Direct resource supplier

Providing access to resources (11.1. Donor)


Facilitating the exchange of resources (II.2. Resource exchange platform)


Integration at the process level (II.3. Process integrator)

Level III “Impact on the environment”

Direct resource supplier

Providing access to relevant information from outside the CO (III.l. Information tube)


Facilitating the exchange of information with key actors from outside the CO (III.2. Connector with the environment)


Participation in the development of the region and the industry (III.3. Lobbyist-visionary)

Level IV “Creation and integration at the organizational level”

Direct resource supplier

Providing access to knowledge and information reserved for trusted partners (IV. 1. Mentor)


Facilitating resource pooling to create common added value (IV.2. Common resource creation platform)


Organizational integration (IV.3. Organization integrator)

the level of integration in question has manifested itself in the social dimension among individuals representing their home organizations within the cluster. The objective of social integration in each of the studied COs was the creation of the most favorable conditions for the development of personal contacts among the members, which, with time, turned (in some cases) into higher forms of relationships (based on trust), which - in turn - have led some companies to achieve higher levels of formal cooperation (see Tab. 5.7, quotations 5-6).

Integration at the unit level has concurrently allowed for the fulfillment of the two remaining roles and the achievement of the specific objectives assigned thereto: by the Direct resource supplier, who - in this case - ensures access to information (see Tab. 5.7, quotations 1-2), and the Broker, who facilitates the exchange of information among cluster members (see Tab. 5.7, quotations 3-4). At the level of cooperation in consideration, COs have performed the role of the Informer - in a situation in which they themselves have provided their members with access to information or an Information exchange platform, if in result of their actions the cluster members have made business ties. As studies show, contacts made within COs have performed the role of an “access pass” to information available to both coordinators and cluster members alike. By taking action, COs have also enabled that their members contact entities outside the group, which considerably broadened their information pool.

Information resources were the only available kind of resource at level I (with the exception of the above-mentioned relational resources). Information obtained at this level primarily pertained to the COs and their members themselves, with only a part of the information referring to the environment of COs. They were also very general in nature - in this case, COs resembled a “search engine” of information which - in principle - is widely available. Thanks to the very general nature of information made available at level I of cooperation, the information could have been shared both directly (by coordinators or members) in the course of various meetings organized within the COs or indirectly with the use of selected IT solutions (such as CO websites offering various functionalities, mailings, and newsletters). On account of the roles fulfilled by COs and the resulting expectations, one of the most important objectives of COs at the level of cooperation in question was - according to the respondents - the development and implementation of a system of information flow and communication within the organization.

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