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Title: Public sector led development in the Northumberland Heritage Cluster
Authors: Swords, Jon
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis maps, for the first time, the Northumberland Heritage Cluster (NHC). Outlining the key theories within clusters discourse I develop a multi-perspective approach to understanding clusters. In parallel with this I draw on understandings of heritage to help identify who, how and why heritages are harnessed by various sectors. In applying these frameworks, I begin by using a Porter-inspired approach to identify a cluster consisting of activity linked to five heritage related sectors: (1) the cultural industries (2) the land-based industries (3) tourism (4) local food and drink and (5) the cultural heritage sector. A series of key ‘assets’ are highlighted within these sectors that present development opportunities for the NHC. Building on this foundation I delve further into the cluster to uncover its socio-economic characteristics and institutional architecture. I identify an embryonic agglomeration with a dominant public sector and high levels of collaboration. A common enterprise, or ‘industrial purpose’, is revealed that aids collective learning and co-operation amongst cluster members. This ‘spirit’ has its source in Northumberland’s history, the role of the public sector and an altruism not found in many clusters. I argue that heritage plays a key role as a catalysing resource that provides a collective identity and inspires cluster members to work for the greater good. In addition to economic objectives, community and environmental development activity are important parts of the NHC. These sustainable development objectives are illustrated through a series of case studies. In mapping the characteristics of the Northumberland Heritage Cluster, this thesis seeks to challenge stylised notions about the role of clusters in local and regional development. I argue they hold the potential to spur holistic development with more diverse outcomes than simply economic growth.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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