Cluster Policies in the Federal States of Bavaria and Thuringia: Discrepancies between Practice and Theory
The contribution analyzes cluster policies pursued in the Federal States of Bavaria and Thuringia. The investigation is based on the exploration of government documents. In both countries cluster policy is target at strengthening competitiveness. The documents explored do not reveal an economic justification for cluster policy in the sense of eliminating market failures, e. g. externalities, information asymmetries and coordination failures. Therefore, it is unclear whether the support schemes under consideration really tie in with factors that hamper cluster evolution. Policies in both states support state-wider clusters and networks. The state-wide focus, however, might undervalue advantages of spatial proximity. As another critical point the ex-ante selection of industries or technologies eligible under cluster policy can be regarded. Despite readiness of considering new technologies etc., public administration generally suffers from a lack of information about the future development perspectives of industries and technologies. A way to mitigate the limited capability of public administration in terms of forecasting might be favoring economic support based on competition for the best concepts/projects instead of focusing on certain industries. Several support schemes offered by the Federal government in Germany are already competition-based. In Thuringia cluster policy is strongly motivated by several structural shortcomings, e. g. by the fragmented firm landscape mainly consisting of small units. Therefore, beyond cluster policy, the necessity will remain to abolish directly the structural shortcomings mentioned, especially by providing an economic environment that enhances firm growth.