Peculiarities of Cluster and I4.0 Relations Diagnosed in HAv

Based ou conducted interviews and in-depth study on HAv, the following research proposals aud statements—grounded in empirics—can be advanced. They may serve as departure points for further, more quantitative or more nuanced studies, along with comparable research on other clusters (Figure 7.3).

• Provision of ICs is about predicting and jointly (common—taken outside the bracket as something which binds) developing future digital skills (as well as neutralising past mistakes—rebuilding a local manufacturing base). It is moderated by member size (asymmetry), industry’s nature aud its idiosyncrasies (entry costs; closed sectors, the propensity to 14.0 adaptation aud the role of a human) and is conditional on communication culture, the level of competition and co-operation, as well as CO support. However, due to co-opetition and asymmetries of relations, the centripetal and centrifugal forces impact on the provision of IC. The time dimension with regard to the IC provision, features clearly in the HAv case—previous decisions (modularisation and offshoring leading to the destruction of local ties and disappearing industrial fabric) and future outlook (need to provide skills for next generations and anticipate future competences)—shape the local ICs.

Key components of the analysis Source. Author’s own proposal based on the conducted study

Figure 7.3 Key components of the analysis Source. Author’s own proposal based on the conducted study

Besides, the development of trust, which is critical for business relations and knowledge sharing, takes time. It confirms the time compression diseconomies (Dierickx & Cool. 1989). Cluster members tend to adopt a long-term perspective when entering into international projects (not blinded by the need for quick, short-term gams). Funire skills, as a central element of IC provision should be common, shared by all members (owned by them), jointly developed and accurately communicated, which requires building trust and developing cluster identity. Nevertheless, the capability of the cluster, in terms of IC provision, in response to the 14.0 fashionable trend and against the background of the discourse advocating digital transformation should not be over-rated.

  • Related variety draws on the co-creation processes, typically given industry’s nature and co-learning, due to the universal character of 14.0. It can be seen as the sum of the members' balance between diversification and specialisation. RV, thanks to the universal nature of 14.0 solutions, is both additive (co-creation and influx of new activities, usually services, which reflects territorial servitisation) and multiplicative (spin-outs and emancipation of new specialisations). Besides, it implies venturing into new areas (UAV and UAM), creating nascent markets and branching. RV might be perceived as ‘diversification (with)in specialisation’ due to existing division of tasks, mainly guided by the Airbus network, but also as ‘specialisation in diversification’ given the portfolio of many members. The activities present hi HAv reflect some clever specialisation, strategically covering almost the whole value chain, yet focusing on the later stages, and missing the most critical, in terms of 14.0 early phases of R&D. The uniqueness of aviation and inherent need of co-creation, also due to the guiding principle of total cost ownership (TCO), requires a broader perspective and necessitates the involvement of related sectors. Nevertheless, the universal nature of 14.0 technologies can serve as a bridge for the provision of RV.
  • Hubbiug can be described by multi-scalarity and sustainability. It takes place at different levels and ranges from metropolitan stretching to global institutional partnerships. It implies plugging-in international (aviation) networks. In order to ensure sustainability, it must be defined by members’ preferences and be fonvard-looking. The uniqueness of aviation implies certain hurdles and barriers, which can deter co-operation. The openness which combines partnerships, projects at multiple levels, usually in institutionalised forms, should come together with internal galvanising. Hubbiug can be seen as an over-dependency reduction leading to more ‘one-large-player-dependaut-caused-shock’ immune SMEs. Hubbiug can also, thanks to the C2C relations, exemplify the processes of inter-clustering (Lorenzen & Mudambi, 2012; Franco & Esteves, 2020; Cusin & Loubaresse, 2018; SchuBler, Decker & Lerch, 2013; Goerzen. 2018).
  • Blending takes the form of local and national co-leaming and bridging, facilitated by the universal nature of 14.0 and problem-solving orientation. However, it is hampered by the peculiarities of the aviation industry (oligopolistic nature or organisation around ‘programmes’), which is perceived as a closed sector with high entry barriers and many hurdles. Adding new sectors and activities, the additive character of blending is accompanied by the multiplicative nature with emerging spin-outs/offs. Problem-solving seems critical for successful sectoral expansion. Problem-orientation helps, integrates naturally and fosters co-leaming and cross-collaboration. Blending might prove vital for sustainability, as it can provide complementary competencies, defining the future competitive advantage of cluster members and the cluster, itself. In fact, as demonstrated by Montresor and Antonietti (2019), endowment in KETs—including some 14.0 technologies—may enable the complementarity and region's diversification, by stimulating the inter-chain upgrading, i.e. leveraging skills in other GVCs (Relmberg & Ponte, 2018).
  • • Cluster in the digital age needs to reconcile specialisation and diversification. On the single company level, the specialisation should be the guiding principle; on the cluster level, the focus should be on some core competencies, which accommodate related areas (specialised firms). Finally, on the city/regiou level, there is a clear need and natural tendency of more diversification and cross-clustering.
  • • The HAv case allows diagnosing some specific trait of cluster evolution or a feature of cluster 2.0, i.e. the internal emergence of new offspring (sub)clusters. It happens via the process of establishing subfields of activity (sub-industry—Valdaliso, Elola & Franco, 2016), or territorially, as the case of CFK Valley or ZAL might suggest.
  • • The HAv case confirms that the cluster can be seen as an organising foimat for the implementation of 14.0 technologies, and the universal nature of 1.40 is perceived as a common thread that binds different entities. 14.0 stands not only for BMI, but also implies that future manufacturing would be all about intelligent, interconnected technology systems.
  • • Industry 4.0, or digital business transformation, comes in many forms in local clusters, as the case of HAv shows, as developed technologies (knowledge), implemented solutions or anticipated and shaped skills. Due to various industries’ 14.0 penetration or propensity, the intensity of 14.0 and 14.0 absorption may vary in each cluster. It is, nevertheless, a common thread of different activities factored in cluster functioning (resembling GPT or KET). It is one of the grand challenges and societal megatrends affecting the business organisation and also the clusters.
  • • 14.0’s dynamic and complex nature emphasises the time dimension of provided IC, which needs to be future-oriented, anticipatory and forward- looking (not just offered, completed). Local co-opetition conditions, including the symmetry/dominance of some players, as well as communication and involvement of COs, play a role in the provision of such IC. It is a CO’s duty to provide conditions, which enable cluster firms to leverage the cluster-based resources, effectively.
  • • The importance attached by CCs to the business relations and networking possibilities suggests that 14.0 implementation may be the result of a contagious process and mutual learning, observation or mimicking each other.
  • • Its (cluster net or total) RV would derive from the ‘specialisation- diversification balance’, as decided by each CC. The current profile of many of them (with a portfolio of different offer) proves that tendency (engineering solutions for aviation, automobiles; training and consulting for various related sectors). At the same time, the trend of ‘diversification within specialisation’ seems to be a common pattern among many films from the Airbus network.
  • • The universal character of 14.0 technologies (GPT) makes the co-leaming and knowledge exchange easier. It also derives from the problem-solving orientation, which these technologies enable and which can bind various sectors and industries. Blending can be seen as a natural complement to activities undertaken vertically within each industry and a necessary element of improving their competitiveness.
  • • Digital transformation or 14.0 is not only an instrument enabling distant collaboration and facilitating hubbing but is also such a topic and subject of this co-operation. This collaboration is multi-scalar, should reflect the cluster members' (geographical) preferences and requires systematic efforts to be sustained.
  • • Sectoral and geographical expansions—scale and scope changes— should be seen as part of cluster evolution (Njos et al„ 2017a, b). 14.0 is a megatrend affecting the cluster’s existence, although, other incidental shocks should be mentioned as potential triggers for cluster reorganisation and change. The news announced on February 14, 2019, that Airbus would stop production of its Jumbo jet A380 in 2021 was sad, but a long-overdue announcement, and indeed, also a negative message, although, this might turn out to bring something positive to the cluster in the future, when adequately harnessed. Besides, it would be interesting to see how Brexit will affect the industry.
  • • Findings stress the need of a granular approach—the importance of focusing the lenses on a single firm’s level. It is due to identified conditionality of specific elements or the benefits of certain activities. Depending on the company’s size and its position, the gains from cluster hubbing can differ, likewise the benefits from diversification or progress in advancing the 14.0 implementation.
  • • It seems that most advantages named by cluster members and ascribed to HAv membership can be summarised as leading to increased efficiency and enhanced competitiveness. It corresponds with the results of numerous previous studies on ‘cluster effects'. Interestingly, less attention and importance have been attached explicitly to the innovativeness, which might have been expected to feature more prominently in the 14.0 cluster.

Locally embedded knowledge, accompanied by a strong presence of industry and assisted by proper governance management, facilitates the implementation of 14.0. The peculiarities of 14.0 impact also on the functioning of the cluster, as they require a more inter-disciplinary and integrative approach, with the provision of ICs and development of related varieties. The natural processes of stretching the cluster cannot be prevented but should be harnessed for upgr ading the core competences of the cluster. Due to digital transformation, clusters might evolve towards being providers of ICs and hubs of related varieties. The case of the HAv also appears to reflect this evolution.

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