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Agglomeration, clusters, and industrial policy

Nathan, Max and Overman, Henry G. ORCID: 0000-0002-3525-7629 (2013) Agglomeration, clusters, and industrial policy. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 29 (2). pp. 383-404. ISSN 0266-903X

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Identification Number: 10.1093/oxrep/grt019


This paper considers the appropriate spatial scale for industrial policy. Should policy focus on particular places, targeting clusters of firms that are spatially concentrated? Or should it, instead, be 'space neutral', refusing to discriminate between different areas unless absolutely necessary? We provide an overview of the literature and identify two waves of literature that argue strongly in favour of a cluster approach. We argue that this approach rests on shaky theoretical and empirical foundations. In contrast, we suggest that more attention should be paid to the appropriate spatial scale for horizontal interventions. What can policy do to make cities work better, in ways that help firms to grow? That is, what is the appropriate role for 'agglomeration' rather than 'cluster' policy? Finally, we consider the possibility that some horizontal industrial policy objectives may be better served by specifically targeting particular places or from decentralized design or delivery.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2013 16:01
Last Modified: 28 May 2024 19:18
Funders: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES), Economic and Social Research Council, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), Department for Communities and Local Government, Welsh Government

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