Specialisation, Regional Clusters and Competitiveness - Regional Competitiveness Strategies
Procuring Authority: OECD
The project develops a comparative analysis of how regions sharing similar technologies, infrastructures and market orientations are reacting to the challenges of globalization and changes in production systems, and what steps they are taking to transform their current regional economic ‘portfolios’. This involves addressing such issues as the shift from production-oriented regional economies that focus on upstream activities, the implications of dependence on multinationals within a regional economy, and the local impact of investment in R&D in a global economy. These issues are addressed through the lens of ongoing transformations in key industries and mature and high-growth sectors, in advanced and less advanced regions.

The project examines three sectors: automotive, biotechnology, and ICT. For each of them the study looked at four leading regional clusters. These were Turin, Gothenburg, Shanghai and Detroit (for the automotive sector), Montreal, Shanghai, Zurich and Stockholm (for the biotechnology sectors), Ottawa, Recife, Stockholm and Eindhoven (for the ICT sector).

Each sector is approached from four key perspectives. These are:

  • Productivity of Research - the challenge of making public investment in research productive for the regional economy by emphasizing commercialization of innovation by locally-based industries


  • Transition from production to non-production activities - the consequences of the transition to research-intensive activities, product design, network management, etc. for regional development and employment creation


  • Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) vs. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) - the implications of the changing relationships between MNCs and SMEs in production systems (issues include the increasing dominance of MNCs in global production systems and the ‘niche’ for SMES in innovation and design, and emerging models for cooperation)


  • Governance - the impact of regional governance on outcomes. Issues include the role of regional and national governance, and the appropriate policy inputs of regional and national governments for the support of specific sectors in their regional and international strategy of development


The project is part of the work by the OECD’s Territorial Development Policy Committee on competitive and innovative regions, and has been conducted in close co-operation with the OECD International Futures Programme (IFP) in the Secretary-General’s Advisory Unit. The project is co-sponsored by Nutek, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, which manages a number of initiatives aimed at regional competitiveness and, more specifically, cluster development.