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The role of regional industry clusters in urban economic development an analysis of process and performance /

by Morgan, Jonathan Quentin.

Abstract (Summary)
MORGAN, JONATHAN QUENTIN. The Role of Regional Industry Clusters in Urban Economic Development: An Analysis of Process and Performance. (Under the direction James H. Svara.) This dissertation examines the potential of industry clusters as an economic development strategy for metropolitan regions and their central cities. The ultimate research question is whether or not industry clusters matter for economic development and, if so, how and why they do. The research focuses on two aspects of industry clusters: 1) the extent to which clusters affect economic development outcomes, and 2) how the socio-institutional and policy process of promoting clusters influences their potential use in economic development. The first conceives of clusters as critical mass within certain industries and seeks to determine whether they are associated with better economic development performance. This question was examined using quantitative methods including bivariate correlation and multiple regression analysis. The second overarching research question is concerned with the social, institutional and governance dimensions of clustering and how they might shape the strategic use of industry clusters to accomplish economic development goals. This process question is an inherently qualitative one and was explored using a comparative case study analysis of how three metropolitan regions support their respective transportation, distribution, and logistics clusters. Both the quantitative and qualitative phases of the research analyze the extent to which clusters can be utilized to achieve a broader set of economic development goals including regional equity and inner city prosperity. Both the quantitative and qualitative findings imply that the contribution of industry clusters to urban economic development is by no means automatic. The statistical analysis found only a modest relationship between certain clusters and increased regional economic performance and equality. Conversely, some clusters had a negative effect on these development indicators. Similar to the quantitative findings, the interview responses from the case studies confirm the proposition that all clusters are not created equal in terms of their ability to bring about economic development. Moreover, the case study regions varied in the extent to which they provided support to target clusters suggesting that not all regions are created equal in terms of facilitating the clustering process. The qualitative findings revealed that the promise of cluster-based development for increasing economic opportunity in the inner city is hampered by a number of intractable challenges. In the case of the transportation, distribution, and logistics cluster some of these barriers are cluster-specific while others are more generally related to the problems of the inner city. Taken together, the quantitative and qualitative findings underscore the role of intentional effort in strengthening linkages and overcoming barriers in order to fully capitalize on regional clusters.
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School:North Carolina State University

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:north carolina state university

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