The aim of the article has been to investigate how far clusters in knowledge-intensive service industries have developed and what kind of agglomeration advantages they generate.
The results show that cluster structures have developed in some but not all knowledge- intensive industries of the service sector. A high measure of spatial concentration does not necessarily mean that a cluster exists, since especially in less urban region high localisation quotients are frequently ascribed to either one company or only a small number of companies.
Supporting clusters and networks is currently fashionable and is practised by different actors. The results show that cluster and network policies have to be focussed on the field of activity. It seems in any case sensible to expand the knowledge and education infrastructure in knowledge-intensive services which do not have cluster structures. The spatial proximity of actors in the innovation process or of suppliers and customers is not always advantageous. Too strong a focus on spatially concentrated exchange processes, leading to an isolation from global trends, can prove to have negative effects in the long term.
In this respect the great importance of a qualified labour pool provides a starting point for policy measures that could also be useful for other fields of activity. This includes the development and financing of (partially specialised) educational institutions or measures. The appeal of the surroundings is also important to tie highly qualified staff to a region, as the discussion on a creative class also shows.
While factors such as urbanity can hardly be influenced politically, there are certain initiatives regions can adopt to compensate for the lack of attractiveness. In regions where companies find it difficult to attract qualified staff from other regions higher education institutions are important sources of qualified staff. Therefore increasing the attractiveness of higher education institutions and of relevant study programmes are first starting points.