Contribution of Clusters to the Competitiveness of Companies: Revelation and Evaluation
This article is dedicated to the analysis of clusters and methodological aspects for evaluation of their contribution to the competitiveness of economy sectors. The conception of clusters is associated with the last (7-8th) decades of the 20th century, when competitive sectoral networks started to form and develop in the USA and Europe. These networks embraced traditional sectors (for example, chair cluster in Italy) and high-tech sectors (for example, Silicon Valley in the USA). It is quite obvious that economic value of these networks and interorganizational relations are enormous for clusters tend to improve productivity, innovative potential, entrepreneurial abilities and competitiveness of companies. In general, the widespread conception of competitiveness is associated with comparative (relative) social, economic, political, technological and other positions of companies, sectors and countries with regard to other companies, sectors and countries. Competitiveness is also a complex phenomenon of economy which has at least three dimensions: 1) macro, 2) mezzo, 3) micro. Macro level is associated with national economy, mezzo level – with regional or sectoral economy, micro level – with companies or business units. Each level has its own specifics and unique indicators that are used in the process of competitiveness evaluation. Competitiveness evaluation is economically important for various reasons: first of all, it enables to identify the strong and weak points of economy in order to ensure sustainable and harmonious growth; secondly, it determines the preconditions to create efficient stimulation instruments for market participants, as it reveals the competitive advantages of products, services, resources, business processes, management strategies, etc. and enables to forecast the ability of companies to survive under competitive pressure. Evaluation of competitiveness is also a complex multi-stage process which must take into account different quantitative and qualitative factors which determine the ability of certain companies, sectors, regions and countries to compete and gain competitive advantage with regard to analogical units. As various partnerships or networks (including clusters) gradually become a requisite, concurrent and integrative part of competitive knowledgebased economy, their contribution to competitiveness must not be ignored. Thus, this scientific research study aims at developing a principal model of competitiveness evaluation that shall integrate the contribution of clusters.