Reconfiguring Clusters: From Contradictions to Pathways

Academic dissertation on how the cluster concept can be best approached to generate accurate and practically relevant knowledge on their functioning – and on their effects on cluster members - based on the aviation industry and best practice example EACP.

Despite technological advances diminishing the role of distance, economic activity continues to be spatially concentrated. There is no better example of this than Silicon Valley in California. There are over a thousand such ‘clusters’ in Europe, many of which receive government subsidies. However, many fail to live up to their expectations, and our knowledge on what makes them successful is limited. More worryingly, there are seemingly contradictory insights, with contention existing about fundamental matters such as whether the members of clusters benefit from i) the geographic concentration of dissimilar or similar economic activities, ii) location in a cluster or the embeddedness in  networks, and iii) strong formal or informal institutions.


This dissertation suggests that this lack of knowledge is a result of selective approaches to clusters in which their geographic, network, and institutional dimensions are not fully considered. Furthermore, past research has assumed that conditions independently contribute, detract from, or are insignificant to the attainment of an outcome over a single pathway. By applying a configurational lens, this dissertation breaks from this, and emphasizes clusters’ complexity. By demonstrating that there are multiple pathways to outcomes like innovation, the seemingly contradictory insights about clusters are reconciled.


Curriculum vitae Daniël Speldekamp

Daniël Speldekamp (Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, 1991) obtained his BSc (honours) and MSc (cum laude) from Utrecht University in 2013 and 2014. He also worked at Utrecht University’s Centre for Expertise on Urban Dynamics and Sustainability from 2013 until 2015. In 2015, he began his PhD at Radboud University. Since late 2019, he has been a lecturer at the University of Liverpool.