Clusters as Geographically Bounded Organizational Fields: The Meaning of Proximity in the Basel Pharmaceutical Industry

Steffen Dörhöfer, Christoph Minnig


Multinational enterprises have to organize their economic activities on different spatial scales ranging from global to local contexts. Firm clusters are the localized spaces where companies assemble the management, working and innovation processes in a socially embedded environment. The aim of this article is to conceptualize exchange processes between companies and the firm cluster as an interdependent construction process, in which internationalized players structure their local relationships for the purpose of economic benefits. With the concept of organizational fields, the construction of regional clusters will be analyzed as stabilized relations, networks and “logics of interaction” among specific actors. Although neo-institutional theory conceptualizes socio-cultural underpinnings of inter-firm-relationships on a global scale, proximate interactions of local actors remain a blind spot in this perspective. Therefore, ideas of cluster concepts are taken into account to fill this gap. To further enhance the distinctiveness of proximate network ties and interactions, a case study of the Basel pharmaceutical cluster was conducted. Based on interviews, participant observation and document analysis the different production and innovation strategies of companies both within and beyond a geographically bounded field are investigated. The characteristic features of proximate network ties could be explained by the cultural underpinnings of interactions and the meaning of localized social capital.


organizational field, cluster, social capital, culture, pharmaceutical industry, networks, innovation chain

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American Journal of Business and Management

ISSN 2167-9606  eISSN 2167-9614 //OCLC: 794280070

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