Creative synergies: Clustering and collective efficiency amongst craft/design firms in Cape Town and Maputo

Kaja Tvedten Jorem

Student thesis: Master thesis


The creative industries present new opportunities for African countries to develop economically and become more involved in world trade. While firm dynamics within the creative industries in developed countries have been thoroughly studied, especially through cluster theories, very few attempts have been made to examine this issue in an African context. This thesis analyses creative enterprise clustering, its benefits and prerequisites, in two African creative cities: Cape Town and Maputo. It asks whether craft/design firms engage in clusters and under which institutional contexts the firms develop collective efficiency from these clusters. The goal of the research is thus to explore the existence of clustering within the craft/design sector in two African creative cities, to describe whether this clustering leads to collective efficiency and to explain the institutional contexts (formal and informal) under which such developments occur or are prevented from occurring. Using a comparative case study approach, this research is based on semi-structured indepth interviews conducted with twenty-to key craft/design firms and four intermediaries during a six-week fieldwork in Cape Town and Maputo as well as document analysis of secondary data – all analyzed by using qualitative content analysis. Due to the limited prior research on the topic, an abductive approach, going back and forth between data and theory, is used to confront the theory with the empirical world in a process of continuous systemic combining. The analysis is based in the philosophical tradition of critical realism, which argues for a contextual understanding of causal relations to understand the 3changing nature of social realities. The findings suggest that both cities show signs of clustering, but Cape Town has clearer tendencies of collective efficiencies along the craft value chain in comparison to Maputo. This is explained primarily through the institutional context. More concretely, Cape Town was able to develop synergy benefits (innovative capacity, etc) by engaging in several direct joint action projects with other firms, largely facilitated by formal intermediary platforms and an informal community of trust. Maputo firms, on the hand, did not engage within the cluster due to informal (e.g. lack of trust) and formal (e.g. weak intermediaries) constraints, resulting in few synergy benefits. Adequate internal resources within the cluster emerged as another prerequisite. The opportunities and challenges for collective growth identified will be of use to the firms as well as to national/international stakeholders concerned with supporting creative cluster developments.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages100