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Related variety and the dynamics of European photonic clusters

Frederic Gaschet, Mathieu Becue, Vanessa Bouaroudj, Marina Flamand, André Meunie, Guillaume Pouyanne and Damien Talbot ()

European Planning Studies, 2017, vol. 25, issue 8, 1292-1315

Abstract: This article aims at assessing the role of related variety, that is, the relatedness of knowledge bases used by different sectors within a region, as a major driver of clusters’ development. Some recent theoretical papers underline the role of clusters as ‘knowledge platforms’ organizing the recombination of technologies in overlapping industries, following the seminal definition of clusters by Porter as ‘geographic concentrations of linked industries’. In order to investigate the role of related variety in cluster dynamics, we analyse the patterns of development of clusters specializing in photonics in Europe. Photonics constitutes a new and rapidly evolving set of technologies with a high expected degree of technological recombination. However, due to inadequate traditional sectoral classifications, we propose an original method to delineate the perimeter of photonics in patent databases. A two-step algorithm is then used to identify systematically photonic clusters in Western Europe at the local level. In the last part of the paper, a typology of technological trajectories of clusters over the last decades is developed and then correlated with a set of quantitative measures of technological relatedness. The results highly confirm the role of related variety as a major driver of success, particularly for the biggest European clusters.

Date: 2017
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