Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

A Property-Led Approach to Cluster Development: 'Creative Industry Clusters' and Creative Industry Networks in Shanghai

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

A Property-Led Approach to Cluster Development: 'Creative Industry Clusters' and Creative Industry Networks in Shanghai

Article excerpt

This article assesses inter-company networks based on a type of urban area labelled as a 'creative industry cluster' (CCJQ) and explores the interaction between CCJQs and creative industry networks. With the use of questionnaire surveys and interviews, Shanghai's property-led clusters are found to contain inter-company networks; however, most linkages are part of companies' own inter-group networks. Thus, individual companies - not clusters - drive the evolution of creative industry networks. Accordingly, three problems are identified: the exclusion of network dynamics, weak institutional basis and inadequate local creativity. Finally, this article identifies the variables of CCJQs that affect company networks and offers advice for cluster improvement.

Keywords: creative industry clusters, creative industry, Shanghai's urban development, property-led development, company networks, cultural quarter, China's cultural industry

Introduction

Recent years have witnessed a distinct rise in academic interest in cultural and creative industries (Smith, 1998; Howkins, 2001; Florida, 2002). One issue debated is the optimal social and urban environment for the growth of the cultural and creative industry: how the performance of companies is affected by the characteristics of their workplace, why certain local milieux prosper while others do not and how a responsive environment can be nurtured. The rationale of these questions is rooted in a sociological tradition that is concerned about the relationship between individuals' or individual companies' working environment, their 'embedded' social networks of communication, and institutional and social foundations (Granovetter, 1991; Thrift and Olds, 1996; Barnes, 1995; Amin, 1998). In these discussions, 'creative industry clusters', the original concept of which grafted culture on to 'industrial clusters', is recognised as one possible mechanism to facilitate the development of a cultural industry. It is suggested that the advantages of clusters originate in the traditions of Weberian formulation of minimum transportation costs and industrial organisation, Marshallian external economies and Hooverian reformulation and innovation (developed by Isard, Perroux, Chinitz and Mills).

Regarding the functions of 'creative industry clusters', it is traditionally believed that they promote trust among establishments, stimulate co-learning and collaboration, and wield magnetic effects in attracting talent and being competitive (Mommaas, 2004; Storper and Scott, 1995; Scott, 2000). Also, cultural assets in local places influence the local cultural production system, resulting in a symbiotic model of place, culture and economy (Molotch, 1996; Storper and Christopherson, 1987). Scott (2000) believes that cultural production blossoms in cities that consist of dense, complex and locationally convergent groups, whereas distribution is embedded in far-flung global networks of transaction.

More recent scholarship tests hypotheses through empirical investigations and casts doubts on the correlation of geographic concentration and companies' competitive advantages (Angel and Engstrom, 1995), arguing that there is insufficient evidence to show that the clustering mode outperforms the dispersed mode (Perry, 2005; Malmberg and Power, 2005). The extent of benefits is hard to determine (Scott, 2004; Rosenfeld, 2004). Gordon and McCann (2000) point out that the widespread spatial-growth analyses need to be examined and elaborated upon and that one critical factor in determining the success of clusters is the existence of inter-actor networks, which is the key feature of functioning clustering. Networks are believed to exist in effective inter-actor clusters to foster trust, collaboration, increased information and knowledge exchange, and generate added values (Hallencreutz and Lundequist, 2003). Successful clusters are usually based upon organically growing inter-actor networks, whereas unsuccessful clusters tend to lack inter-actor linkages and thus have few locational benefits (termed as 'spatial clustering' or 'pure agglomeration') (Gordon and McCann, 2000). …

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