Public policy promoting clustering as a growth strategy for firms: a comparison of the effectiveness of Australian and Italian clustering policies
Far-Wharton, R, Brunetto, Y, Bresolin, F, Farr-Wharton, B & De Leonardis, L , 2012, 'Public policy promoting clustering as a growth strategy for firms: a comparison of the effectiveness of Australian and Italian clustering policies', paper presented to International Research Society for Public Management XVI Annual Conference, Rome, Italy, 11-13 April.
Clustering policies specifically attempts to forge links between relevant firms so as to improve the transfer of information and skills across an industry type. This study uses qualitative research methods including interviews and document analysis to compare policies promoting clustering, usually with an aim to drive innovation, as a means of creating a competitive advantage for SMEs as a way of achieving economic growth for a region. Criterion-based sampling was used to identify who to interview and which documents to analyse. In particular, an understanding of policy was achieved by reviewing specific policies related to promoting networking/clustering amongst SMEs. Results indicate, the local governments in SE Queensland, Australia and the Veneto region, Italy identified the importance of building viable networks and industry clusters and this was evident in the economic development policy documents. However, the depth and breadth of substance was greater in the Italian policy documents. The findings suggest that it is difficult to help some businesses. In the case of Italian firms there is a clear mandate to assist only “mature” clusters that have had the time required to develop a joint strategy.