Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Management and Marketing

First Advisor

Michael Walsh

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Moloney, University College Cork.


Concentrations of firms in an industry sector within a geographic space or region have exercised the minds of economists for more than 100 years. Several models attempt to analyse the interactions and dynamics of such concentrations. Industry clusters (Porter, 1990) and industrial districts (Becattini 1978, Piore and Sabel 1984, Scott 1988a 19886, Storper 1989) are well known examples.

Yet debate continues about the validity of such models and how they function. While cluster theory has many adherents, spatial boundaries of a cluster and its determinants of competitive advantage remain controversial. Several variants of industrial district have been analysed, and according to (Markusen, 1996) a city or district can transform for one variant to another, and elements of different industrial district models can co--exist in the same location.

Industrial districts and the cluster model remain of interest to economists, politicians and regional managers due to the economic growth, competitiveness and ability to withstand forces of globalisation that they offer.

As global corporations review their cost base, an option they consider is moving production units to low cost countries. With unemployment hovering about 13% of the workforce, Ireland needs to sharpen its industrial competitiveness, strengthen its successful FDI relationships, and requires well founded economic models and policies to achieve this. Using a survey, this thesis investigates trading and non trading linkages of an Irish regional industry specialisation, which is dominated by large FDI branch plants.

It contributes a five step framework developed to identify, measure and analyse spatial specialisations of industry. The framework incorporates a novel survey instrument developed in this study, the Four i Linkage Scale. The scale facilitates an enumeration of the nature and business significance of linkages that respondent hrms have with other firms, organisations and institutions. When applied to firms in an industry agglomeration, the Linkage Scale enables one to judge which industrial district or cluster model corresponds to the sector under review.

The thesis finds that satellite platform^ best describes the concentration of biotech in the test region, county Cork, with its preponderance of externally controlled multinational FDI units, heavy reliance on international output and input linkages, and insignificant cooperative linkages with local industry peers and industry associations. A number of policy recommendations to strengthen agglomeration economies of the biotech industry in Ireland are proposed.

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