A cluster is an agglomeration of proximate enterprises and organizations interconnected by means of a specific industrial or technological sector. In order to accelerate the market of biofuels in Mexico, the government has fostered the creation of new specialized clusters that promote the development of new innovations. However, undertaking this implies risk and uncertainty, since clusters are normally developed through the manifestation of regional competitive advantages which attract the interests of the industry. The objective of this research has been to analyze the competitive advantages of Mexico in the biofuels sector, specifically bioethanol, by using a new approach that incorporates the competitiveness model by Porter and capabilities analysis. The variables considered for this were innovation, capabilities and the competitive environment. The central question of this research is what are the factors and conditions that allows the establishment of the bioethanol market in Mexico?
The methodology of this study has a qualitative focus and, due to its scope, is descriptive. To address this, the competitive advantages were analyzed and discussed through a collection of information and data analysis and direct interviews (Camagni, 1991; Chrzanowska, 2002; Cohen & Levinthal, 1990; Hsieh & Tidd, 2012; Rogers, 1983, Todorova & Durisin, 2007; Zawislak et al., 2012). Semi-structured interviews were given to the participants and, in parallel, official documents and databases were consulted. The order of the information was established with the Porter model (1980; 1990). The ATLAS Ti version 2.0 software was used to derive an analysis that integrates the information.
CLUSTER INNOVATION AND COMPETITIVENESS
Technological competitiveness is strengthening with local exportations of sophisticated products and the features of the services utilized for making them. In order to do that, it is necessary to have capabilities which rely on education, innovation and institutions. Thus, technological competitiveness requires effort and time to obtain it. Yet, it is expected lasting and sustainable results for the economies that achieve it (Aiginger & Vogel, 2005). In line with this, the Department of Trade and Industry of UK (2006) identified three key factors that differentiate competitive clusters: collaboration (78%), innovation (75%) and human capital (73%). Thus, cluster innovation is important, due to its future productivity and industry ability to adapt and transform as output of changes. Hence, clusters formed with the aim of promoting innovations and technological developments are successful as they raise their competitiveness. Traditionally, innovation based on R&D activities by companies is an expensive and lengthy process. Clusters can accelerate this by making use of existing capabilities in the pool and by then reducing innovation costs. Innovation has suffered an evolution process from closed innovation till recently collaborative innovation and open innovation (Lee et al., 2012). Nonetheless, communication is an important issue to develop in order to promote collaboration between cluster's actors (Lindqvist & Solvel, 2011).
The companies and organizations performing innovation activities in a cluster must mature their innovation capabilities. Lall (1992) describes these as the tools and knowledge necessary for appropriating and making use of the technology. In the same position, Leonard-Barton (1995) argues that innovation capabilities involve individuals with specialized knowledge, the competences for management of technology and the value of the company. Similarly, Jian and Min-Fei (2008) describe innovation capabilities as the sum of entire competences supporting innovation activities. In another view, Tura and Harmaakorpi (2005) point out regional innovation must come from individual capabilities of cluster actors. As a consequence, innovation capabilities are static and dynamic. According to the resource-based view (RBV) (Wernerfelt, 1984) companies and organizations develop their capabilities making use of their abilities and acquiring knowledge through the time. Consequently, static capabilities refer to the existing competences that are driven by technology or by the businesses (Zawislak, 2012). The former is the ability to make use of technological knowledge (Westphal, 1985) and the latter to comprehend the abilities of organizations to manage resources and obtain a transaction as output (Zawislak, 2012). Certainly, these capabilities are considerably important for...