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Studying social capital in clusters therefore opens up the debate beyond clusters as motors for economic growth and innovation, to clusters as places for civic engagement and community building. It raises questions about the possible scope and role of clusters beyond the economic rationality of entrepreneurs. This is particularly interesting for post-communist countries that have undertaken a major economic and political transformation, where the civil society has recently been rebuilt or is still “under construction”.
This means that social capital can contribute to fighting poverty and to increasing well-being, thus having an economic impact beyond social objectives. There is an important step to take from studying social capital from a sociological and societal perspective to reaching the economic and firm level. Research has been undertaken to understand the impact of social capital on economic growth and whether the ‘value’ Putman speaks of can be translated into increased competitiveness and growth. 2 SOCIAL CAPITAL-A KEY INGREDIENT FOR CLUSTERS IN POST-COMMUNIST SOCIETIES performance of firms in local clusters.
The Power of Geography, Allen & Unwin, London. 1 CLUSTERS – DEFINITION AND METHODOLOGY Endnotes 1. In recent years, the theoretical debate on clusters has been informed by a focus on innovation triggering a wealth of literature on territorial innovation models (Storper and Scott, 1988; Morgan, 1997; Cooke, 1996). 2. The OECD has been active in supporting policy development and highlighting good practices in this field. From network characteristics of co-operation and competition in industrial districts (OECD, 1999) to innovation policy, clusters have been an important part of OECD work on how to promote SME development and foster innovation in recent years.