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The 2020 ERSA Congress: Call for Abstracts for the special session "What future for industrial clusters?"

The identification of industrial clusters and the analysis of their contributions on regional economic performance has permeated regional science research from its very inception.

The study on industrial clusters identifications found in the “Italian school” (Sforzi, 1990; Iuzzolino 2003, 2004, 2005) fertile ground. The cluster approach to regional development hit its stride at the confluence of Porter’s contributions (1990, 1996, 2000, 2003), Becattini (1998, 2000, 2003) and Krugman’s (1991, 1998) papers on the agglomeration and the “new economic geography.”

Although a consensus cluster definition has been somewhat elusive or their contribution to regional development very much dependent on the endogenous conditions of each region, there are commonalities across the cluster literature that Cattivelli and Iuzzolino (2014) summarize with these three elements:

  • the framework conditions (e.g. the internal organization of the industrial sector, the sectoral specializations, the firms´ size and their supply chain relations)
  • the importance of social and institutional relations
  • the extent of the labor market and its agglomeration benefits

The recent economic crisis has led to a restructuring of the secondary sector. Despite its weight on GDP remaining significant, many companies in the secondary sector have ceased their activities, thus freeing up human, technical and relational resources, which have sometimes been lost. Other companies have reorganised or intensified their investments (including through specific programmes in support of technological renewal) or have intensified relations throughout the value chain (clusters as regional innovation system: Taddeo et al., 2017; or pillar of regional entrepreneurial ecosystem: Auerswald/Dani, 2017; or space for smart specialization: Hassink/Going: 2019). Increasingly, industrial agglomerations do not coincide entirely with territories where products were processed and transformed; today the centripetal action of the agglomerative forces acts above all during design and planning processes (Glaeser, 2011).

The clusters spatial patterns and processes of economic performance occur within specific spatial planning systems, governance scales and multi-actor dynamics, which are affected by some transformations (crisis of core-periphery model, review of competences among institutions, changes in the prerogatives of public intervention in the field of planning, variety of local stakeholders). This in turn conditions the quality and the intensity of social and institutional relations (clusters as place of cooperation and competition: Konzelman/Wilkinson, 2017; or radical innovation: Hervas-Oliver. 2018).

Lastly, new jobs and forms of labour organization are emerging and make the boundaries of industrial agglomerations more blurred (cluster as talent agglomeration: Zhang, 2018).

All these transformations change the characteristics of industrial clusters and require new methods for their identification.

The 60th ERSA Congress, Territorial Futures - Visions and scenarios to cope with megatrends in a changing Europe, to be organized in Bolzano, 25-28 August, 2020, will host a special session: What future for industrial clusters? challenging the traditional methods for cluster spatial delimitation and providing qualified support for new hypotheses about their identification elements (framework conditions, social and institutional relations and labor market extensions and benefits). Additionally, it aims at evidencing the clusters resilience and their perspective for the future. For these reasons, theoretical presentations, as well as methodological ones are welcome.

The session will be hosted by Valentina Cattivelli, Institute for Regional Development – Eurac Research ([email protected][email protected]) and Giovanni Iuzzolino, Banca di Italia ([email protected]).


Bolzano-Bozen (IT) at Eurac Research during ERSA2020 Congress.


25-28 August

How to participate

Participation happens with a presentation about the topics described before during the session. To be selected and present, it is necessary to submit an abstract by March, 2, 2020 here


Fees are not yet defined, however, they should be less than 350 Euro for participating at the whole conference, not just to this session.

Deadline for presentation

2 March 2020

For more information please contact Valentina Cattivelli, Phd and chair: [email protected][email protected]