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Innovation in Clusters

Science-Industry Relationships in the Face of Forced Advancement

Vallier, Estelle


1. Edition January 2022
256 Pages, Hardcover
Wiley & Sons Ltd

ISBN: 978-1-78630-625-8
John Wiley & Sons

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Forged at the heart of international political bodies by expert researchers, the innovation cluster concept has been incorporated into most public policies in industrialized countries. Based largely on the ideas behind the success of Silicon Valley, several imitative attempts have been made to geographically group laboratories, companies and training in particular fields in order to generate "synergies" between science and industry.
In its first part, Innovation in Clusters analyzes the infatuation with the system of clusters that is integral to innovative policies by analyzing its socio historical context, its revival in management and its worldwide expansion, looking at a French example at a local level. In its second part, the book explores a specialized biotechnology cluster dating back to the end of the 1990s. The sociological survey conducted twenty years later sheds a different light on the dynamics and relationships between laboratories and companies, contradicting the commonly held belief that innovation is made possible by geographical proximity.

Foreword ix
Philippe BRUNET

Introduction xiii

Part 1. Persistence and Renewal of the Cluster Concept in Contemporary Innovation Policies 1

Chapter 1. From Industrial Districts to Knowledge Valleys: the Legacy of the Cluster 3

1.1. The industrial district: the oldest ancestor of the cluster 3

1.1.1. The economic approach of industrial atmosphere 3

1.1.2. The first Italian districts and their influence in France 5

1.1.3. The rise of districts: the end of the Fordist enterprise? 7

1.2. Spatial concentrations of technological activities 10

1.2.1. The time of technopoles: reconciling regional planning and innovation 10

1.2.2. A spontaneous and innovative environment conducive to a "technological atmosphere"? 13

1.2.3. The era of cognitive capitalism: the race for creativity of individuals and territories 15

1.3. The valleys of knowledge: interindividual relations as a source of innovation 17

1.3.1. Informal links in the heart of Silicon Valley 17

1.3.2. The relational logic essential to geographical proximity 19

1.3.3. Social capital as a driver of innovation 21

Chapter 2. The Management Roots of the Cluster and Its Worldwide Dissemination 25

2.1. An economic and management concept destined to become a public action mechanism 25

2.1.1. Porter's cluster: the rapid spread of success stories 25

2.1.2. Knowledge management and its workers as a dominant paradigm 29

2.1.3. A theoretical and practical toolkit provided by researcher-experts in clustering 33

2.2. Global dissemination of good clustering practices 36

2.2.1. A paradigm born in the United States and forged at the heart of the OECD 36

2.2.2. To adopt OECD recommendations, or have them imposed? 38

2.2.3. The European Union, sponsor of the race to the knowledge economy 40

2.3. The French legislative framework from the 1980s to the 2010s: a favored coming together of science and industry 43

2.3.1. Researchers converted into entrepreneurs 44

2.3.2. The university: a link in the cluster supply chain 46

2.3.3. A cluster for every territory 49

Chapter 3. The Cluster Imaginary: Tools, Local Narrative and Promise 53

3.1. Performative instruments: benchmarking, territorial marketing, visual instrumentation 53

3.1.1. Benchmarking or territorial mimicry 54

3.1.2. Territorial marketing: asserting the cluster's symbolic capital 55

3.1.3. Visual instrumentation: the image of a dense, expanding campus 57

3.2. The construction of a narrative 60

3.2.1. Evry, the French cradle of human genomics 60

3.2.2. Industrial renewal: the cluster as a solution to local economic development 62

3.2.3. The rhetoric of technological backwardness: overcoming French scientific slowness 63

3.3. Promises of innovation and employment at the territorial level 65

3.3.1. The promise of the biocluster: a sustainable environment and the medicine of the future 65

3.3.2. Becoming the capital of genobiomedicine, creating jobs for innovators 68

3.3.3. The naturalization of the cluster effect: an unquestionable concept? 71

Part 2. Prevented Synergies: the Case of a Biotechnology Cluster 75

Chapter 4. Networking Systems: Repeated but Hindered Initiatives 77

4.1. Scientific and industrial administration: establishing a recurrent event 77

4.1.1. The emergence of an intermediary figure: the cluster administrator 78

4.1.2. Networking and renewing acquaintances among cluster members through regular events 80

4.1.3. Fostering communities of practice: the creation of thematic bodies 83

4.2. Sharing a technology platform: mutualization or collaboration? 87

4.2.1. Resources as an intermediary: a policy of sharing expensive equipment 88

4.2.2. Platform usage: service provision before collaboration 91

4.2.3. Equipment demonstrations: connecting or making visible? 94

4.3. The institutionalization of conviviality: "la vie de site" 98

4.3.1. Bringing together and involving employees from different backgrounds 98

4.3.2. Building emotional and community connections through volunteering and sport 101

4.3.3. L'Escale, a space of sociability revealing professional hierarchies 103

Chapter 5. Scientific Competition and Economic Competition: Social Fields Spanned by Internal Struggles 107

5.1. Asynchronous organizations and work rhythms 107

5.1.1. Dissonant work schedules between companies and laboratories 108

5.1.2. Belonging to the large biotechnology family or disciplinary demarcation logics? 112

5.2. A scientific field built from struggle and precarity 114

5.2.1. A workforce that is becoming precarious 114

5.2.2. Scientific work destabilized and concealed by competition 117

5.2.3. Researchers and industrial collaboration: an unequal commitment 121

5.3. An unstable relationship between economic development and industrial secrets for companies 124

5.3.1. Individuals are increasingly encouraged to start a business to escape unemployment 124

5.3.2. The fragility of the male 30-something entrepreneur 127

5.3.3. Intense activity marked by the search for financing and competition 131

Chapter 6. The Avoided Cooperation 137

6.1. A patchy local network 137

6.1.1. What type of organizations for what type of interactions? 137

6.1.2. Scientific and market relations behind informal interindividual exchanges 141

6.1.3. More outwardly looking organizations 144

6.2. Cooperation prevented by paradoxical demands 146

6.2.1. Additional time pressure 147

6.2.2. A disembodied objective between prescribed program and real work 149

6.2.3. Loyalty and performance objectives towards the employer 152

6.3. Avoidance strategies 155

6.3.1. Avoiding scientific and technological issues 155

6.3.2. Cluster administrators: between belief and lucidity 158

Conclusion 161

References 165

Index 197
Estelle Vallier is a sociologist at the Gustave Roussy Institute, France, and works within the Research Chair on Social Issues in Personalized Medicine and Innovation in Cancerology, part of the Centre Léon Bérand and Université Lyon 1. She is also an associate researcher at the Centre Pierre Naville at the Université d'Évry-Paris Saclay.