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The Changing Nature of Clusters: Implications for Canada

The Conference Board of Canada, September 6, 2018
Recorded Webinar
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Many countries, including Canada, have made it a priority to create and support business or industrial clusters. Clusters are generally defined as geographically and sectorally concentrated firms, post-secondary institutions and research organizations that promote linkages among firms and knowledge transfer and exchange. Clusters are seen as drivers of innovative activity, economic growth and high-value employment. But new research from HEC Montréal indicates that the secret to a successful cluster has less to do with the composition of a particular cluster and more to do with its linkages to other clusters and global value chains around the world.

Join HEC Montréal Associate Professor Ari Van Assche for his analysis of the changing nature of clusters. With the federal government preparing to invest more than $950 million in its Innovation Supercluster Initiative, this session is not to be missed.

Webinar Highlights

During this recorded webinar, Prof. Van Assche identifies and describes for decision-makers the key changes in clusters.

  • The conventional wisdom has been that knowledge spillovers occur within the geographic cluster, from the anchor firms in the cluster to smaller firms.
  • This new research indicates that knowledge exchange with the cluster happens on a very limited basis, so that firms on the periphery of the cluster benefit less than anticipated.
  • The innovation and business performance of a cluster depends on the ability of its top firms to tap into global knowledge networks with top firms in other clusters located elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, that means the spillover effects are less likely to benefit as many firms within the individual cluster.
  • Cluster proponents and decision-makers need to make sure that firms within the cluster build linkages with other top clusters elsewhere in the world, to tap into knowledge exchange found globally.

About Ari

Ari Van Assche is associate professor of International Business at HEC Montreal, as well as research fellow at the research centers CIRANO and IRPP. He is deputy editor of the Journal of International Business Policy. He holds a BA and an MA in Chinese Studies from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and a PhD in Economics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His research focuses on the organization of global value chains and their implication for trade and industrial cluster policy. In 2018, he was co-recipient of the Doug Purvis Memorial Prize for his book Redesigning Canadian Trade Policy for New Global Realities (with Stephen Tapp and Robert Wolfe).

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