Application of the Generated Concept to Selected Cluster Organizations in Europe

In this chapter, the generated theoretical concept of the trajectory of the development of cooperative relationships in cluster organizations (COs) has been applied to three selected COs functioning in different European countries - ArchEnerg International Renewable Energy and Construction Innovation Cluster (Hungary), Green Energy Innovative Biomass Cluster (Romania), and Netzwerk Energie & Umwelt e.V. (Germany) - in the form of case studies. This allowed for the empirical verification and determination of the usefulness of the developed concept in the same comparative groups (with respect to the studies held at stage 1, rooted in the methodology of grounded theory), albeit in the case of COs operating in different fields and in different geopolitical conditions. Each of the three parts of this chapter discusses a different case, first embedding it in the realities of the cluster policies of the given country. The specific nature of the cooperative relationships in the selected case studies has been described through the lens of four levels of cluster cooperation highlighted in the developed concept. The concluding part of the chapter develops the generated theoretical concept thanks to the enriching empirical material obtained in the course of the study.

ArchEnerg Cluster: A Case Study of the Cluster Organization in Hungary

The Development of Cluster Policy in Hungary

Cluster policy in Hungary has been developed since the year 2000, with the launching of strategic programs highlighting the considerable role of clusters in improving competitiveness and innovativeness in the Hungarian economy.1 The first of the programs - The Szechenyi Plan 2001-2002 - consisted of a comprehensive government policy in the scope of economic development, the aim of which was to improve the potential for the economic growth of Hungary while maintaining macroeconomic stability. In this time, within the Regional Economy Development Programme, Hungary saw the creation of its first COs. Programs in subsequent programming periods, that is, National Development Plan 2004-2006, New Hungary Development Plan

2007-2013 and New Szechenyi Plan 2011-2014, have supported the further development of cluster-based structures. From the perspective of cluster policy, of importance was the launching of the Pole Programme - a comprehensive program of economic growth directly focused on the development of clusters and pole cities. The Pole Programme was the first program for economic growth in Hungary with a systemic approach to clusters and financial resources earmarked for supporting their development. Within the program, a dedicated government unit was created - the Pole Programme Office and its online brokers - focused on cluster-specific issues. One essential novelty of this program was the launching of a four-stage cluster development model and a cluster accreditation program. In 2014, Hungary launched a cluster framework program for the current fiscal period - the Szechenyi 2020 - within which it continues actions initiated in previous periods, such as the development of an updated model of cluster development and a comprehensive review of the accreditation system.

Until 2013, Hungary supported clusters at all stages of their development, including early stage start-up initiatives, which has led to the widespread proliferation of cluster structures in the country. However, with the development of cluster policy in Hungary, we are witnessing growing focus on supporting mature cluster structures, accompanied by the marginalization of clusters w'hich are just beginning their operations. The multi-level model of cluster development adopted by Hungary rests in the assumption that clusters at different levels of maturity need different forms of support. To this end, three kinds of clusters are distinguished: start-up cooperations, developing clusters, and accredited innovation clusters. The classification of clusters is grounded in the evaluation of the level of organizational maturity, accounting for the level of the development of relationships among cluster members and the areas of cooperation. Start-up cooperations are focused on initiating cooperation within a network. At this stage, cooperation is focused on administrative actions supporting the development of the initiative itself. In developing clusters, there is a visible development of trust among the members, with cooperation encompassing actions pertaining to value creation. At present, the focus is placed on the development of existing clusters with documented experience. Support is given to accredited clusters (Ministry for National Economy, 2016; MAG, n.d.), which are capable of developing cooperation in accordance with the priorities of the economic growth of Hungary - that is, of helping to execute large developmental projects and attaining considerable economic results. Accredited clusters are characterized by strong trust among their members, cooperation in the field of innovation and international activities, primarily in the scope of export.

In Hungary, cluster policy is mostly executed at the national level - programs supporting clusters are prepared and executed by the government in a centralized manner. In the development of cluster policy in Hungary, the key role is held by the Ministry of National Economy, which is responsible for planning and implementing cluster policy at the national level. In the current programming period, within the existing framework of the Szechenyi 2020 program, the main administrative body responsible for the ongoing task of cluster development in Hungary is the International and Cluster Unit of the Ministry of National Economy, which handles all matters pertaining to clusters, administers accreditation programs, and introduces proposals to other units and public offices, in order to include actions tied to the development of clusters in appropriate projects.

 
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