Kluster som teori och politik : Om den regionala tillväxtpolitikens diskursiva praktiker

Sammanfattning: The starting point for this study is the successive changes in regional policy that has taken place in Sweden. These changes can be understood within the context of a new regional discourse emphasising the role of ‘strong regions’. Regional actors are expected to ‘pull together’, mobilising regional resources in a more globalised world. The introduction of the cluster concept in the politics for regional growth in Sweden can be seen in the light of this new discourse. Inspired by the works of Michael Porter, and clusters such as Silicon Valley, public actors from all over the world have adopted what could loosely be identified as an approach encouraging cluster development. The regionalisation of decision-making power has also been motivated by increased democratisation of the politics for regional growth. At the same time, it has been argued that regional policy is strongly marked by consensus and that politics and ideology have been left aside in these processes. This thesis analyses the conditions for the political in this new regional discourse. Building on qualitative data and with regional cluster policy as an empirical case, this is done through analysing clusters as politics. From the ontological assumption that the way politics is talked about shapes how politics is done, the research question that underlies the study is: how is the regional politics for cluster development articulated and shaped? Two of the main conclusions are that the cluster discourse has changed over time and that regional politics for cluster development can be seen as de-politicized. ‘Clusters’ are introduced in Swedish national policy as an ‘interesting theory’ about how firms create and sustain competitiveness. Today, cluster development is understood as organised cooperation between ‘clusters of firms’, universities and public actors. A new form of political organisation is taking place at the regional level. At the same time, the regional politics for cluster development can be described as de-politicized. It is strongly marked by consensus and there is a lack of public discussion concerning who gains and who loose in this form of organisation. The findings suggest that this de-politicization can be understood in the light of the theoretical articulation of cluster policy, in the light of the relation between theory and politics, knowledge and power.