Beyond Clusters - Collaborative Commerce and Clustering
Centre for Regional Innovation and Competitiveness
Business and Public Management
Recent studies regarding industry and regional competition have demonstrated the benefits of inter-firm co-operation and networking by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as they form alliances and partnerships to compete in an increasingly Information Technology (IT) enabled global world. Collaborative commerce (c-commerce) is one type of alliance, and some argue it is the next stage in electronic business (e-business). Given local and regional government interest in encouraging SMEs to participate in electronic commerce (ecommerce) this paper addresses the ability of SMEs to engage in c-commerce and the reasons they may consider same. Clusters provide a concentration of related and supporting industries to engage collectively in markets. They create an environment where governments can foster natural relationships and utilise existing collaborations to encourage c-commerce adoption. This facilitates an exchange of ideas and knowledge, the transfer of technology and promotes product and market development. In this way clusters and c-commerce are related, though further research as to their relationship is required. This paper overviews collaborative networks, including c-commerce, and investigates different types of clusters - regional, industrial, knowledge and eco-industry clusters. Consideration is given to the benefits flowing from c-commerce and the mechanisms and structures required for clustering and c-commerce adoption through best-practice case studies. Based on academic and practical research this paper proposes a model for cluster development which can be used to develop strategic cluster policies in the future. This model demonstrates an evolution of types of clusters and shows the role commerce plays in this evolution.