Leveraging Relations In Cluster Development: A Case Study of Norwegian Innovation Clusters

Karina Sem Glømmi

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This thesis presents a qualitative case study that examines whether Norwegian Innovation Clusters’ (NIC) succeed in increasing and reinforcing relations in cluster projects. Due to NIC’s goal of increasing collaborative relations in the clusters, it is interesting to investigate how social capital is present at all levels of the chosen clusters, Norwegian Fashion Hub (NFH) and Tequity Cluster (TC), and whether NIC’s ability to build trust and networks affect the two clusters’ relations. This paper applies numerous theories on clusters, social capital, and networks. The theories are used to analyze how NIC focus on, create and develop relations in order to help their clusters, NFH and TC, develop and thrive. Since human relations and interactions between different actors are the core of innovation, social capital is a crucial element to focus on in the direction NIC is pursuing. The first part of the analysis investigates social capital on the clusters’ macro, meso, and micro level and how this is affected by the clusters’ conditions. It is found that NFH has a significant focus on social capital and that this focus has helped develop the cluster into the mature and thriving cluster it is today. The need for social capital can be justified in the cluster conditions, as NFH is a horizontal and industrial cluster. Hence, the members are direct competitors and do not benefit from already existing regional ties. TC is a relatively young cluster and has a high focus on building cooperation and expertise. However, it is found that the need for a focus on social capital might not be as pressing as TC is built on a vertical structure where the companies complement each other in the value chain, and the companies are based in the same region. The next part of the analysis further elucidates how NFH and TC’s relations are affected by NIC. By applying theories on trust and networks, it was found that NIC’s internal embeddedness is characterized by strong ties and limited external bridging ties. NIC need to share their network more and serve as better boundary spanners to develop weak ties. Further, it was found that there is a need for individual cluster facilitation as clusters have different conditions and need different follow-up. Based on the analysis and discussion of this thesis, it is concluded that NIC should increase their efforts in creating and developing relations. Tools on inter-firm relations should be encouraged and used, and the focus needs to shift from collaboration to cooperation. However, the tools cannot be directly applied to all clusters but need to be altered for each cluster in line with the cluster conditions. Thus, it is concluded that NIC needs to focus on creating bridges between the clusters and between the clusters and their external relations in order to succeed.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages86
SupervisorsMark Lorenzen