Clusters strategic planning

Updated: 2011-05-23 09:57

By Marcos Fava Neves (

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In four chilly days of May, around 300 clusters practitioners from 10 different countries met in the beautiful city of Ouro Preto, in Brazil, considered as a world heritage for its old architecture and churches. This inspirational environment with a perfect organization conducted by SEBRAE-MG was a stimulus to discuss important topics and challenges related to clusters.

For the ones not familiar with this concept, a cluster is “a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. Clusters are considered to increase the productivity with which companies can compete, nationally and globally” (from Free Dictionary). Michael Porter was one of the first authors to study and write about this collective actions initiative.

First, there is a common sense that clusters are facing a huge pressure due to global environmental changes. The fact is that these global changes and impacts are speeding dramatically, turning the environment where clusters operate much more complex to understand.

The major changes affecting clusters planning and management are higher exposure to global competition and currency exchange rates war, an increase in volumes and speed of financial flows with a business concentration model towards scale economies, efficiency and cost controls.

Clusters also face increasing risks (financial, sanitary, image among others), the emergence of new business models, increase in the importance of the services based economy and the fast rate of innovation and technology change.

Government’s changing role towards the regulation of economic activity is another challenge to be addressed. At the consumer side, pressure of time, individualization, high connectivity and excess of messages and communication also sets the need to change the traditional way of doing business in clusters.

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