Clusters are far from homogeneous. They can be located in rural or urban areas and operate in a number of economic sectors ranging from agriculture through industry to services. Cluster firms master different technological capabilities and may produce for national or global markets. The composition of the labor force and its skills endowments also vary greatly. Accordingly clusters face different bottlenecks and threats.
The experience of UNIDO shows that the cluster approach can be applied across diverse scenarios with equally sound results, as it tackles the root causes of stagnation.
Once clusters have gained dynamism, they will pursue distinct growth paths and long-term objectives. Given its mandate, UNIDO has traditionally assisted clusters with the long-term objectives of:
- Strengthening industrial competitiveness
- Reducing poverty.
These do not exhaust the range of goals that can be achieved through a cluster approach. To mention a few, revitalized clusters may seek to access new markets, make efficient use of energy resources, adopt environmentally sustainable production systems or innovate.
In the long term these goals are not mutually exclusive. In the short term, however, trade offs between one or the other priority may arise, which calls for the formulation of tailored cluster policies and interventions.