CURRENT TRENDS IN CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.

Author:Korolev, Viktor Ivanovich
Position::Report
 
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INTRODUCTION

Innovation is one of the key factors in the development of a modern economy. The implementation of innovative solutions is increasingly undertaken these days in partnership with other participants, as opposed to by standalone firms exclusively. A major form of this type of cooperation today is clusters. Cluster theory is not new to economics. Its foundations were laid down back in the 19th century. The concept was "fine-tuned" by Porter (2003). Various aspects of cluster theory have been explored by Enright (2000); Hart (2000); Bergman & Feser (1999); Andersen et al. (2006). Technically speaking, a cluster is a group of interrelated enterprises, located in a certain area, which compete with each other but, at the same time, are also engaged in joint activity. It is no longer the sectoral approach that is shaping our modern economy-increasingly, it is the cluster approach that is. There are different types of clusters. Among the most promising are innovative clusters. These differ from traditional clusters in that there is close territorial linkage among not just the firms but also their suppliers and clients, as well as large research centres and universities. This makes it possible to have a closed technological network that will take care of everything-from creating a product through to manufacturing and getting it into the market. These clusters, mainly, turn out export-oriented products (Lenchuk & Vlaskin, 2010).

The ground breaker on this type of clusters is Silicon Valley, located in the United States. The area houses nearly 87,000 companies, dozens of research centres and several large universities (Mantaeva & Kurkudinova, 2012). A significant amount of attention, over the past 20 years, has been devoted to innovative clusters in European countries. This is associated with a desire to attain leading positions in the area of developing and implementing innovations. Existing best practices are facilitating rapid growth within regions employing the cluster approach (Rutko, 2016). The more successful cluster initiatives have been implemented in Germany, Austria, Great Britain and Spain (Solvell et al., 2003).

The expert community and participants of the successful operating clusters consider the effective development of a cluster to be characterised by the Triple Helix mechanism, i.e. the interaction of three groups of participants: business, government and science (Solvell et al., 2003). The Triple Helix is managed through the regional partnership mechanism aimed at economic development based on innovation (Erzkowitz, 2008). However, the management process itself is complicated due to the peculiarities of all three categories of participants (Roriguez-Clare, 2005), despite its long existence is extremely relevant for the European Union and at present that can be seen from the terms of participation in the programs for supporting clusters within the framework of structural funds and the EU framework programs (Cluster policy in Europe, 2008).

The Russian economy is being keen on cluster development as well. Different regions across Russia have this kind of establishments in place today. However, the process is faced with numerous challenges. In resolving these issues, it may help to rely on international best practices in the field.

METHODS

Trends in the development of innovative clusters are grounded in certain consistent patterns in their formation and operation. These consistent patterns include the following:

The Initiation of the Process of Creation of Clusters

There have been different approaches to this. In the 1990s, there was no consensus on who must initiate the creation of clusters. It was believed that clusters should be created "from below", while the role of the state came down to just providing support for the process. One of the most successful examples of forming a whole community of innovative clusters that carry out active interaction within the same region is the experience of Germany. Industry and interbranch networks of companies established within the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia allow regional authorities to form their own international brand under the original name Exzellenz NRW, considering it part of the overall strategy of positioning the region to attract investments (White paper, 2010; Cortright, 2006).

Later on, a series of studies were conducted based on 13 European agri-food and agricultural clusters which challenged the argument that clusters should be created "from below". It was demonstrated that the more common practice was initiating clusters at the state and regional levels (Capitao, 2012). In 2012, an extensive study was conducted by the European Cluster...

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