Regional economic development: The role of regional government in the development of internationally competitive industry clusters
Wickham, MD and Macklin, RB and Wong, TL, Regional economic development: The role of regional government in the development of internationally competitive industry clusters, Palmer-Higgs, Australia, pp. 178. ISBN 978 0 992 54937 4 (2014) [Authored Research Book]
Copyright 2014 Mark Wickham, Rob Macklin & Tommy Wong
Since its publication in 1990, many governments throughout the world have used Michael Porterís Industrial Cluster Theory (ICT) as a tool in national and regional economic development. Australian federal and state governments are no exception, and in the last decade, there have been numerous attempts to improve Australiaís economic development with implementations of ICT. Most of these efforts have been of limited success, with Australiaís record at developing industrial clusters well below the OECD average. One of the major reasons for this has been difficulty in using Porterís theory, and in particular his ideas concerning the role of government, in industrial cluster development.
This observed difficulty provides the research opportunity for this book; it focuses on the role that the Tasmanian state government played in the development of one of Australiaís most successful industrial clusters, the Tasmanian Light Shipbuilding Industry (TLSI) cluster. The book is based on a longitudinal case study, and included interviews with 25 key informants: six of these were current heads of Tasmanian government departments (including the TLSI clusterís training facilities); five were ex-state premiers spanning the TLSI clusterís history (1977-1998); one was the incumbent current state premier in 2002 (the late Jim Bacon); three were senior bureaucrats that had served the state parliament from 1977-1998; one was an incumbent Member of the federal House of Representatives for Tasmania (that has served between 1977-2010); and finally, the nine founding managers of the TLSI clusterís private sector firms.
In order to address the research opportunity, this book seeks to answer the following question: What role did the Tasmanian Government play in the development of the TLSI cluster? The answers to this question reveal a distinct set of government roles that proved beneficial to the TLSI cluster during its first 25 years of existence. The roles that the Tasmanian government had to play were changeable over time, and ranged from an initially non-committal stance towards the industry, to one that was heavily involved in its infrastructure requirements. The study also found that the role of chance events in Porterís ICT deserved considerably more prominence than the theory suggested.