The Baltic Region

2018 Vol. 10 № 2

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Equivocality in Delineating the Borders of a Cluster: The Baltic’s Case

DOI
10.5922/2079-8555-2018-2-4
Pages
56-75

Abstract

Increasing competition between states striving to integrate into the global economic system has created a need for a spatially targeted regional policy as a means of boosting national competitiveness. The regional polarisation approach, which seeks to create new and support the existing nodes of a regional economic system — clusters, technopoles, industrial districts, etc., — has gained wide currency in public administration. The heralds of such forms of spatial networking are various institutional, cultural, organizational, technological, social, and cognitive proximities. Combinations of these proximities create the unique mosaic of a regional milieu. Geographical proximity translates into the boundaries of spatial networks, which rarely follow the existing administrative divisions. Thus, the identification of spatial networks is becoming the focus of regional governance. This article is part of a complex study on equivocality in identifying the boundaries of spatial networking. In this work, we pay particular attention to delineating the boundaries of territorial clusters. This form of spatial networking is both a contemporary tool for targeted regional development and a result of spontaneous functional integration of economic entities. Building on an extensive factual base, we present a complex model of territorial cohesion for delineating the boundaries of a territorial cluster. The model makes it possible to integrate data on geographical, institutional, cultural, organisational, technological, social, and cognitive proximities. The properties of a cluster as a form of networking warrants distinguishing between internal, external, thematic, and absorptive types of boundaries. The feasibility of this approach is tested in the Baltics’ national and regional clusters, with special attention being paid to the Latvian IT-cluster. Committed to economic clustering and glocal cluster interactions beyond national borders, the Baltics are an ideal case study for testing our model. Latvia’s mature IT-cluster is an important national growth point. Regional and industry-specific policies should consider the differences between the cluster’s geographical and non-geographical boundaries.