Clusters: a Mesmerising Mantra

Michael Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that the cluster model of local economic growth is model that became a message that is now a mantra. It is an approach that has extended its explanatory reach through the accretion of layers of contingency. The paper suggests seven major limitations that undermine the explanatory power of what is now a mesmeric policy prescription for local economic development. It neglects the imperatives of capitalism, underestimates of the impact of unequal power relations on business relationships, fails to incorporate time, fetishises proximity, treats entrepreneurship simplistically, promotes the chaotic concept of institutional thickness, and is limited by the chaotic concept of social capital. It is concluded that a more nuanced and empirically grounded approach to agglomerated local growth is needed and a set of research questions is suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-286
Number of pages11
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • proximity
  • social capital
  • local economic growth
  • Enterprise
  • clusters
  • power
  • institutional thickness


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