A few days ago I was ruminating about how one social innovation might interact with another and considered the idea of clusters. The next day I saw an article had been published on clusters and social innovation in the International Journal of Technology Management by Juan-Luis Klein, Diane Gabrielle Tremblay and Denis Bussieres.
This research explores an area of Montreal adjusting to change in the garment industry. Montreal had for many years been a centre for the garment industry in North America but in recent years has struggled to compete with products produced more cheaply in emerging economies.
The researchers identified the importance of “community economic development corporations” (CEDCs) that encouraged the development of a new working model. These organizations facilitated the move from a focus on production to one focused on design. Providing ideas, resources and networks CEDCs were able to encourage a new cadre of fashion designers. CEDCs could enable the sharing of resources and knowledge. The effect was to produce a cluster of independently operating businesses in an area of the city that gained benefits from close proximity.
It raised a couple of questions for me. First, about the importance of “connector” organizations, the forms that they can take and for how long.