43rd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Peripheries, Centres, and Spatial Development in the New Europe", 27th - 30th August 2003, Jyväskylä, Finland
The cluster-concept is often-used to analyse a country's key industries. The maritime industry is one of the most well-defined clusters in the Netherlands. Although the competitiveness of a cluster depends on the interaction in a cluster, research on cluster dynamics is limited. This paper discusses the presence and impact of 'leader-firms' in the Dutch Maritime Cluster. Leader firms are firms with the ability and incentive to make investments with benefits for other companies in the cluster. Benefits are created in three ways; encouraging innovation, enabling internationalisation and enhancing labour pool quality. The structure of the paper is as follows. First, we briefly discuss the Dutch maritime cluster. Second, we provide a theoretic framework to analyse leader firm behaviour in clusters. Third, we identify the leader firms in the Dutch maritime cluster and analyse their behaviour. In this section the results of surveys among 18 leader firms and the results of 25 case studies of maritime leader firms in the Netherlands are presented. We finalise the paper with conclusions and implications for government policy.