Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Really Smart Growth

Planners and local government officials have the "industrial clusters" bug and the race is on to somehow create the next Silicon Valley.   University officials, likewise, have read all about the role of Stanford human capital in the development of The Valley and are on board too.

Michael Porter offers advice to many on how to speed things up. 

What gets lost in all of this is the fact that (surprise) no one actually planned The Valley -- and no one is likely to plan the next one. 

Pierre Desrochers and Frederic Sautet argue this point in their "Cluster-Based Economic Strategy, Facilitation Policy and the Market Process"  In fact, the authors, point out, "... the regional specialization strategy commonly associated with clusters makes regions more likely to experience economic downturns, prevents the spontaneous creation of inter-industry linkages and hampers the creation of new ideas and businesses."

The Really Smart Growth, then, is to completely ignore the fad.