IV. Final Word


Cluster and I4.0 Relations Framed in ICs, RV and Stretching

By focusing on the case study, this volume addresses the calls for a more context-sensitive approach to cluster change and combines insight from technological change and the regional economy. Firstly, it developed a conceptual framework outlining the functioning of the 14.0 cluster, which explains the antecedents of cluster attractiveness for 14.0, and the consequences 14.0 would have on clusters. Based on the exploration of it’s OWL cluster, it argues that locally embedded knowledge, accompanied by a str ong presence of industry and assisted by proper governance management, facilitates the implementation of 14.0. The idiosyncrasies of 14.0 also impact upon the functioning of the cluster, as they require a more inter-disciplinary and integrative approach, with the provision of ICs and development of RV. The natural processes of stretching of the cluster should be harnessed for upgrading the core competences of the cluster. The second case study of the HAv, framed in the previously developed conceptual scheme, yielded more detailed findings as to the nature of IC and RV, and the stretching process of

14.0 clusters. It revealed the importance of the forward-looking provision of skills for the next generations, as well as the co-existence of ‘diversification within specialisation’ and local ‘specialisation in diversification'. It showed that blending might provide critical complementarity, and confirm the longterm competitiveness (compare similar results by Rocchetta, Kogler & Ortega-Argiles, 2019; Janssen & Frenken, 2019); while multi-scalar hubbing must be sustainable.

This research proposes a more nuanced view on cluster internationalisation, in particular, by contrasting this dominant view with hubbing. It can enrich the discourse about cluster balance of specialisation and diversification, and subsequently, fit into the ongoing debate about the superiority of either ‘MAR or Jacob’s externalities’ by offering some qualitative and empirically grounded approach. Last, but not least, it can contribute to the strand of literature devoted to ‘cluster commons’ or ‘cluster effects’, by shedding light on cluster attractiveness during digital transformation, in particular, by exploring the provision of (future-oriented) ICs. This study touches upon the co-evolution concept, as it addresses the possible cluster modification due to 14.0. Hence, it is aligned with recent research on clusters, which accounts for their evolution over time (Abatecola, Belussi, Bresliu & Filatotchev, 2016; Ter Wal & Boschma, 2011).

The fust case study of the 14.0 and it’s OWL cluster demonstrated that the cluster role in the 14.0 era would lie not just hi assuring the provision of new technologies and competences, but also in the dissemination and broader availability of them. So, it implies a certain re-focusing to the concept of ICs. The integrative nature of 14.0 would entail, on the other hand, the need for cross-sectoral collaboration. Thus, it stipulates the growing importance of locally available RV. Clusters would change under the pressure of digital transformation. They would need to remain open geographically (hubbing) and more diversified sectorally {blending), but these processes should be seen, in fact, as a necessaiy upgrading of local knowledge, preventing the cluster’s lock-in and assuring long- term competitiveness.

Much has been said about the need to develop external cluster relations, but less is known about internal diversification, in terms of fields of activities. This volume addresses this issue by exploring the delivery of RV and blending processes.

As the HAv case has shown, the provision of IC and RV, along with the processes of stretching, is influenced by the moderating effects of industry (i.e. its propensity to 14.0), key actors (size and power) and the universal nature of 14.0 technologies. The studied concepts of blending and hubbing illuminate the need to see the evolution of clusters, as linked to processes of scale and scope. The mutually reinforcing 14.0 and cluster transformations epitomise the co-evolution processes (Figure 8.1).

The risks for local communities, deriving from the adoption of advanced production methods, seem to support the idea that clusters might become obsolete in 14.0 time (Dalum, Pedersen & Villumsen, 2005). However, the HAv case stresses the necessity of developing RV or a moderate specialisation, rather than rigid specialisation (Gancarczyk, 2015), and a need for blending and hubbing. It warns against relying on one single leader firm and one specialisation. This case advocates actions to avoid lock-in resulting from isomorphism. It demonstrates the importance of reaching out to external knowledge and assuring some diversity within the cluster. The HAv case further illustrates that more diversification and openness are needed. As argued by Buxbaum-Conradi (2018), SMEs in the local cluster must diversify into neighbouring industries and provide cross-sectoral



Cluster-14.0-Cluster* relations ♦-new updated cluster 2.0 Source

Figure 8.1 Cluster-14.0-Cluster* relations ♦-new updated cluster 2.0 Source: Author’s own proposal

services and skills to reduce their over-dependency on Airbus. Undoubtedly, they should become more tied to networks and systems outside of the cluster.

This research juxtaposes the 14.0 attributes with cluster features, in order first, to clarify the role of the latter to the progress of the digital transformation, and second, to diagnose the likely implications of the fourth industrial revolution to the configuration of production systems, as currently characterised in clusters.

14.0 cluster’ might become an emblem to the old controversy, commonly referred to as ‘MAR versus Jacobs’. It also could epitomise the incorporation of the concept of RV, introduced in an attempt to resolve an earlier empirical question, whether regions benefit most from being specialised or being diversified (Content & Frenken, 2016; Mudambi, Narnia & Santangelo,

2018). RV assumes that inter-industry spill-overs occur mainly between sectors that draw on similar knowledge. Knowledge originating from one industry is most relevant to, and can most effectively be absorbed by, another industry that is related in the sense that films draw on similar knowledge. Some ‘diversity in unity’ is, therefore, the recipe for economic growth.

This volume presents exploratory qualitative research investigating the relationship between the cluster and 14.0. It develops a comprehensive framework, which provides insight on clusters and business digital transformation and consolidates the results of the explorative study.

Concerning the question, of what exactly makes the cluster the right tool or place for advancing 14.0, and drawing on the gathered evidence, it may be confirmed that all three previously identified sources (i.e. the triple helix components), knowledge ecosystem, strong business presence and institutional framework, play a role. Stable and high-quality research in the region should be accompanied by the demand for new solutions from the active business and industry, and additionally, assisted by the governance strac- tures. The peculiarities of the fourth industrial revolution imply a more inter-disciplinary and integrative approach. It means that what is needed are manufacturing and technical capabilities, facilitating innovativeness across industries, i.e. the ICs. Additionally, a cross-sectoral, holistic perspective and integration of different strands of engineering is desired, so that the benefits of RV can fully unfold.

Referring to the question of how 14.0 may, in return, influence clusters, and what kind of feedback on the cluster it may have, it may be presumed that 14.0, by its very nature, would stimulate certain behaviours and modifications, as it rewards an integrative and inter-disciplinary approach. The natural processes of expanding sectorally, and, to some extent also, geographically, i.e. the two processes of the so-called cluster stretching, may help to reinforce the fundamental core competencies of the cluster. They do not have necessarily to lead to some watering down of the existing hub of expertise, but rather should enable the upgrading of it. The issue of stretching seems the more important, as the digital revolution is being supposed to de-construct traditional industries and stimulate cross-industry convergence (blending) and allow further fragmentation and dispersion of activities (hubbing).

The case of HAv signifies the importance of hubbing. This geographical expansion can be regarded as a specific form of internationalisation, which amis to target and leverage foreign competencies or as a way of preventing the isomorphism. Hubbing and reaching out to explore and import external know-how and technologies, and thus, to bolster the key competencies, seem to be proactively sought after and initiated by CO, as a channel for safeguarding the ICs. Blending, which assumes some widening of the sectoral scope of cluster activities, contrary to what was initially expected, is not merely a reaction, a necessary adaptation to changes or a forced adjustment. It is promoted and supported with the aim to ensure the competitiveness, by enriching the existing RV.

Promoting provision of ICs and safeguarding the RV development, along with smart modelling of cluster stretching processes, might be seen as the new transformative place-based policy.

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