Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Management and Enterprise

First Advisor

Dr John Hobbs

Second Advisor

Michael Walsh


Industry clusters (Porter, 1990; 1998a) have been the focus of numerous studies, economic strategies and policy globally (Ketels et al., 2013). Cluster analysis has focused on identifying and mapping clusters yet there is a need to develop a deeper understanding of how clusters operate and to visualise cluster ecosystems. Linkages and networks are a key component of clusters and thus, network theory has the potential to enrich the literature and analysis of clusters. This research addresses three objectives: 1. Review cluster theory and analysis techniques to investigate the potential to apply network theory and visualisation to cluster analysis; 2. Develop a cluster analysis methodology to assess and visualise a cluster ecosystem; 3. Apply the cluster analysis methodology developed in this research to analyse clusters at different stages of maturity. Holbs' (2010) ‘Four i Linkage Scale,' network theory and visualisation techniques are combined to develop a hybrid methodology for cluster analysis, named V-LINC. The research applies V-LINC to investigate three ICT Clusters across Europe (Cork, Ireland; Ile-de-France, France; and Slovenia). A sample of firms in each cluster were interviewed to record, visualise and analyse their linkages which when combined showcase their cluster ecosystems. Targeted policy recommendations are proposed for each cluster. The findings of the research contribute to the understanding of how clusters at different stages of development operate. The application of V-LINC provides a consistent replicable methodology to visualise and analyse cluster ecosystems, whilst developing and reviewing cluster policy and initiatives.

Access Level


Included in

Business Commons