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      Implementation challenges in cluster policy making: the case of the Andalusian Furniture Technology Centre

      Pluto Journals


            This article analyses the design and implementation of a cluster organisation, the Andalusian Furniture Technology Centre (CITMA). The case of CITMA illustrates how policy processes are inherently political and far more complex than portrayed in conventional accounts based on the linear model of innovation. Policies are, in fact, unpredictable and fraught with uncertainty, opportunity and local specificity. However, acknowledging this complexity is not enough; it has to be unpacked to foster policy learning. To this end, we have opened the black box of the organisation to understand the political process underlying its creation and dissolution. Through this narrative, we shall witness how the technology centre, initially conceived and approved as a publicly funded organisation with the aim of raising SME's absorption capacity by providing technological services, turned into a semi-public consulting firm focused on selling business services to big companies. The outcome of this policy was precisely the opposite of what had been intended with this initiative and the consequence or the result of a top-down policy approach in which the regional ministry failed to take into account the needs, interests and resistance of the different stakeholders by unilaterally changing the project and the funding model approved by its predecessor. The CITMA case highlights the lack of a multi-disciplinary approach to innovation policy in Andalusia and the fact that innovation policies have been defined and implemented in a hierarchical and siloed fashion with little attempt at policy alignment across different areas and levels of government.


            Author and article information

            Pluto Journals
            1 June 2015
            : 33
            : 2 ( doiID: 10.1080/prometheus.33.issue-2 )
            : 113-137
            Department of Economics, Campus Las Lagunillas, University of Jaén, Jaén, Spain
            © 2015 Pluto Journals

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            Computer science,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Law,History,Economics


            1. Published in the Andalusian official gazette (BOJA), 22 July 2013.

            2. The new Horizon 2020 action, Cluster Facilitated Projects for New Industrial Value Chains, launched in 2015, will provide 24.9 million euro to finance projects that involve clusters. It is aimed at defining new industrial value chains to support European growth. Clusters will play a key role in channelling these funds to help enhance the innovation capacities of SMEs and fund large-scale demonstrator projects.

            3. Launched under the European Commission's Europe INNOVA initiative in June 2007, it is a service created to inform policy makers, cluster practitioners and researchers, and innovative enterprises about European clusters and national and regional policies and programmes related to innovation and clusters. The project results and the methodology used are available at the website of the European Cluster Observatory, www.clusterobservatory.eu.

            4. According to Isaksen and Hauge (2002), the most frequent activity carried out by cluster organisations has to do with government relations, i.e. lobbying governments and coordinating public–private investments. The second most frequent activity is training, which is also a little more frequent in science-based clusters. R&D is the third most frequent activity coordinated by cluster organisations, and it is of equal importance in both cluster types. Beyond that, cluster organisations coordinate a variety of activities among firms in clusters, such as marketing and sales, production (most important in science-based clusters) and inputs.

            5. The ANT incorporates what is known as a ‘principle of generalised symmetry’: human and non-human elements (e.g. artefacts and organisation structures) should be integrated into the same conceptual framework and assigned equal amounts of agency. The importance of both, human and material elements, in constituting organisations becomes evident when we consider what a technology centre needs to fulfil its mission – scientists, laboratories, equipment.

            6. The hosting of the organisation was first offered to the city council of Lucena, which declined the offer. The organisation was eventually established at Encinas Reales, 14 km away.

            7. CEMER has followed the same strategy with most furniture entrepreneur associations in Andalusia, such as Pilas, Valverde del Camino, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and Ecija.

            8. The OTRI is a technical office with two main goals: (i) to promote effective relationships and to catalyse the exchange of knowledge through R&D services with high added value; and (ii) to conduct joint R&D by contracting or by means of competitive funding from public funds.

            9. In 2002, the scale model was ready for the visit to Lucena of Prince Felipe de Borbon to inaugurate an industrial park, which was named after him. He was impressed by the building design and asked the mayor to inform him about further development of the project.

            10. Aimed at associating the growth of the Andalusian knowledge system, especially universities, to regional development needs, the plan comprised 286 actions grouped into 31 strategic lines, with 82 goals and six lines of action. PIMA had an overall budget of €5700 million, of which nearly €2600 million was assigned to support knowledge-based industries and universities and €1823 million was used to foster entrepreneurship. It was reinforced in 2007 by the Andalusian plan for research, development and innovation (PAIDI 2007–13), which set out the role and functions of the key actors of the innovation system in Andalusia.

            11. All subsidies related to innovation were grouped under the incentive order of 5 July 2005, which establishes that any company benefiting from public aids to encourage innovation should contract at least 15% of the total project to public research centres.


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