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Competitive Regional Clusters: National Policy Approaches

Many nations and regions are struggling to maintain their competitive edge in the context of globalisation. The regional specialisations built up over decades are transforming rapidly. Many regions that were historically production centres in a given sector are losing out to lower-cost locations and reorienting to higher value-added niches. Yet even some of these upstream activities are being off-shored. How durable are the competitive strengths on which regional economies are based?

National programmes to promote cluster-based approaches -- linking firms, people and knowledge at a regional level -- are being used to meet the challenge. Evolutions in regional policy, science and technology policy and industrial/enterprise policy are converging on the objective of supporting clusters at the regional level. Nevertheless, policy makers face a series of difficult choices given limited resources. For example, they may focus on the leading regions and sectors that drive national economic growth and technological breakthroughs or the lagging regions that need to reorient their economies to preserve jobs and diversify. This report analyses the objectives, targeting, instruments and inter-governmental role sharing used by 26 programmes in 14 OECD countries.

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