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 Stephanie Francis Grimbert, James R. Wilson, Xavier Amores Bravo, Alberto Pezzi
 Competitiveness Review

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Cluster management organizations (CMOs) have emerged over the past few decades as intermediaries that support the competitiveness of place-based clusters of economic activity. Despite their economic origins, policymakers are now starting to experiment with a broader use for cluster policies that seeks to leverage CMOs to tackle societal challenges in approaches aligned with the concept of creating shared value (CSV). However, there remains a void in conceptual understanding around the specific roles that CMOs might play in overcoming the barriers faced by their members for CSV, which this paper aims to address. Bridging this gap presents an opportunity for cluster practitioners and policymakers in a context in which environmental and social sustainability are at the top of policy agendas.

Based on analysis of literature around collaborative approaches to CSV for mitigating transaction costs, the authors define the contours of a new conceptual framework for the roles that CMOs can play in fostering collective CSV. The authors illustrate how the different components of the framework are reflected in emerging cluster practice in the context of a new wave of European cluster-based projects tackling CSV elements.

The resulting framework reconciles the concepts of clusters and CSV by explicitly positioning CMOs as intermediaries for facilitating the CSV strategies of their members. CMOs embrace emergent strategy making that targets (tangible and intangible) collective CSV capabilities and addresses collective CSV challenges. Collective CSV can provide a theoretical anchor guiding future cluster policies to fully leverage the transformative potential of CMOs. This conceptual framework opens a promising empirical research agenda, particularly around evaluating the plurality of impacts of CMOs.

  • Keywords: cluster management organization, collective CSV