Roles and Specific Objectives at Cooperation Level III

Specific objectives defined for cooperation level III pertained to ensuring cluster members have access to information from outside the cluster organization (pertaining to key areas of social and economic life), are able to exchange information with key actors from outside the CO, as well as cooperate with a view to developing the region and the industry. The most important goal of the functioning of COs at level III was the third of the aforementioned objectives - integration (CO in the role of an Integrator), which in the discussed case should be understood very broadly as the integration of the environment, that is, entities connected by belonging to the same industry (which could be further extended to operating in the same location, e.g. the same region) (see Tab. 5.9, quotations 5-6). Actions integrating cluster members that concentrated on the shared creation of developmental opportunities or the neutralization of risks in the environment of the CO and its members, which entailed the creation of favorable business conditions. At the level in consideration, COs were expected to participate in the development of the industry and the region in their role of lobbyist-visionaries, that is, entities which point out to cluster members worthwhile trajectories in which to take action, as well as support them in the execution of such actions (by, e.g. facilitating contacts with local authorities, industry associations, or by seeking out potential external allies necessary to achieve the goals set by COs). The above role entailed representing and caring for the interests of cluster members and - in a broader context - those of the industry and the region (this explains the first part of the term describing the role of COs - “lobbyist”), as well as strengthening the regional skill resource pool and supporting public authorities in, e.g. shaping their economic, industrial, and innovative policies (which explains the second part of the term describing the role of COs - “visionary”). In conclusion, the objective of COs was to create a sort of “bridge” between the cluster reality and the external environment, through which the group of companies cooperating at level III could transfer their ideas and actions to a broader group of recipients (not discounting the passive members of the CO in the process).

The execution of actions focused on fulfilling the above-mentioned objective has served to further the two remaining objectives tied to providing access to information coming from outside the COs, with respect to key (from the perspective of the CO and its members) areas from social and economic life (see Tab. 5.9, quotations 1-2), as well as facilitating the exchange of information with key actors from outside the

General roles

Specific objectives

Selected quotations

Direct resource supplier

Providing access to relevant

information front outside the CO

1 “A cluster is a large institution, which means everyone may get first-hand access to materials such as meetings of EU institutions, which are not widely available to all. It can distribute such materials among its members. It can send its representatives to European Commission meetings to monitor new laws. A private individual does not have such access”. (C6)

2 “When something begins in the country at a given time, or politicians indicate that a certain solution will be preferred, you need to be on your toes, gain knowledge, work it out, and how the companies how certain resources will be distributed. Such companies have capital and human potential for innovation, and they need such information in order to develop further”. (B2)

Broker

Facilitating the exchange of information with key actors from outside the CO

3 “We have contact with the local administration and the central authorities, we participate in different assemblies, we have our representative in the committee monitoring the Ombudsman and in the National Centre for Research and Development. Whenever there is a committee in the Sejm which deals with clustering, one of our members participates in its meetings”. (D2)

4 “We are in ongoing contact with employers. We offer internships and attend discussions. Employers belonging to the cluster attend biannual conferences and off- the-record talks. We know whenever we are in need of specialists with specific skills”. (B9)

Integrator

Participation in the development of the region and the industry

5 “A cluster is an entity', the voice of which is taken into account when creating strategic action plans (on the regional or industry level). We consult reports from self-government institutions”. (D2)

6 “We are a strong partner for the Municipal Office, for the Marshall of the

Voivodeship, that is, the Marshall Office, particularly with respect to the issue of the development of the industry”. (B2)

Source: Authors’ own elaboration

COs (see Tab. 5.9, quotations 3-4). It should be stressed that - as the results of the performed research show - at level III of cooperation (similar to level I), beside relational resources, cluster members had the possibility of obtaining access only to information resources coming from - first and foremost - outside the CO. For this reason, COs at cooperation level III have fulfilled the role of a Direct resource supplier - an Information tube (when they themselves distributed information to their members) or a Broker - a connector with the outside world (when they facilitated the exchange of information between the cluster members and entities from outside the CO). Differences between the levels (I and III) were apparent in the kind of information received from the environment. At level I, the information was very general and widely available, while at level III, the intent of the coordinators (and primarily the cluster members themselves) was to gain preferential access to crucial information on the changing conditions in the environment, which are essential from the perspective of the cluster members. Such information may help achieve competitive advantage on the market, which means it was mostly intended for the cluster members (though as studies show, more valuable pieces of information were withheld by the individuals engaged in the process of gathering information). In both cases (at levels I and III), the flow of information from outside the CO and - what is characteristic of level II - establishing ties with external actors - were meant to prevent the isolation of the COs in question.

 
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