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Evaluation of Intervention with Clusters and Industries: final composite report


The Evaluation of Intervention with Clusters and Industries in Scotland aims to be a learning evaluation for Scottish Enterprise (SE) on the policy interventions pursued to date. The research objectives for this study focus on five principal learning areas: the appropriateness of cluster and industry policies and strategies; the rationale of programme selection and design in the light of strategic intent; the efficacy of cluster and industry interventions seeking to improve critical factor inputs; learning lessons and the adaptation and evolution of the approach; and broader SE support and resourcing. This main report is supported by fifteen cluster- and industry-specific reports.


The methodology consisted of: a document review; sector expert input; a baseline analysis; steering and practitioner group workshops; 34 strategic, 16 external and 250 cluster and industry face-to-face and telephone interviews; and reporting and testing of key findings.


The rationale behind the initial selection of clusters is still appropriate but the first mover advantage gained by Scotland has been lost and the cluster approach has diminished in prominence. The Scottish Executive is a critical stakeholder, although the evolution of SE’s own role is not always clear. Cluster and industry policy is not closely enough linked to mainstream activities and policy initiatives. Successful cluster and industry interventions have some common characteristics for success. Both strategic and pragmatic approaches have been followed and each can be appropriate. The credibility of cluster and industry teams is critical, although human resources have become increasingly difficult to secure. Cluster and industry interventions have made a difference to economic performance, but it is difficult to provide quantitative evidence of hard economic impact. The performance management system used is not appropriate and monitoring and evaluation of the interventions’ strategic added value is relatively poor.


The report suggests there is a case for public sector support for cluster development, with a longer term aim of minimising this need and some acceptance of risk. Cluster support should be different to industry and mainstream business support. As far as possible, cluster activity should be devolved to a representative industry forum. There is a clear need for a more sophisticated monitoring and evaluation framework to measure impact in the longer term.

Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support