Michael Woywode and Michael Potstada (University of Mannheim): Configuration, bistability and innovativeness of regional clusters: An empirical analysis of organic and large area electronics

Emerging technologies are social efforts that involve numerous organizations, creating a market that transforms inventions into innovations and later into products and applications. Regional clusters serve as breeding grounds for these efforts, as they provide crucial resources in close proximity. However, not all clusters can be considered equally successful.

The current paper adopts a configurational perspective on high technology clusters by investigating the presence and absence of four causal conditions in 21 global clusters in the nascent technology field of organic and large area electronics (OLAE). Through this perspective, this paper attempts to elucidate how these conditions, in various configurations, affect one another and, subsequently, the innovation capacity of a given high technology region. Cluster configuration is assessed through 60 semi-structured interviews with experts from each sample region. A unique OLAE patent database with a total of 14,999 patent families filed over the period 1996-2010 was developed to quantify the innovativeness of clusters. Three major findings emerge. First, a fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) reveals, on the one hand, two cluster configurations inducing high innovation capacity, providing empirical evidence for our theoretical argument that regional clusters are bistable systems. On the other hand, we observe that certain cluster configurations are clearly failing. Second, we find underlying interdependencies among and compensations for causal conditions prevailing in regional clusters: our results for high cluster innovation capacity exhibit either the presence of catalytic universities or large multinational companies, but not both, in a given causal configuration. We argue that this result is in line with literature on the anchor tenant hypothesis and that it suggests that regional clusters should be configured around catalytic anchor tenants of one category-either science or industry. Third, we find evidence that the configurations differ in the type of innovation produced, despite their similarity in the level of innovation output. Finally, we report preliminary evidence regarding product and market success of the individual clusters.



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