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Developing the experience economy in non-metropolitan regions: cross-clusternetworks in Värmland
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Geography and Tourism.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8788-0044
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Geography and Tourism.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A common challenge for many companies in the experience economy is that firms are small, struggle with low profits and, particularly in non-metropolitan regions, often are scattered over a large area. These challenges make it different for the firms to find time for accessing new markets and to innovate and engage in product development. An important aspect of product development is the interaction between producer and consumer that drives innovation through new trends expressed through consumer demands. One way of supporting firms in the experience economy is through different types of collaborative bodies such as destination management organisations or cluster organisations. These organisations typically include different actors such as public agencies, local authorities and chambers of commerce in addition to the companies. Public agencies working with local and regional development issues tend to be actively involved in the setting up and managing these organisations both because they can play the role as broker and ‘neutral’ party in relation to many different competing interests and also because of the importance of a strong experience economy with regards to regional growth.

This paper presents a new project that focuses on cross-cluster networking in the Värmland region in Sweden. This non-metropolitan region has a number of strong and established clusters in several export industries supported by cluster organisations such as the IT cluster ‘Compare’, the cluster of pulp and paper technology ‘Paper Province’ and ‘Steel & Engineering’. In February 2011 a cluster organisation for the experience economy ‘Visit Värmland’ was established based on earlier collaboration. The project aims at studying and supporting cross-cluster networks between Visit Värmland and other clusters. Two important aspects of the study is firstly to focus on opportunities for firms in the experience economy with regards to product development and accessing new markets through collaborations with the established clusters and secondly to explore knowledge development and learning for both the new and the established clusters through cross-cluster networking. The project involves actors from the clusters and is thereby partly co-produced research.

The first aspect of the study is based on the practice of the export firms in the established clusters to involve different types of Värmland experiences in their customer relations. A large number of small and large events are organised every year involving a variety of firms within the experience economy. The scale and scope of these activities are not known. In a first phase of the project a mapping exercise is taking place with regards to these activities and the scope for a development of the experience economy through a more organised cross-cluster networking between ‘Visit Värmland’ and the established clusters. Can firms in the experience economy tap into this market and through customer-producer interactions with overseas visitors access opportunities to innovate and engage in product development? The second aspect of the study is planned to involve deeper research into the knowledge dynamics of cross-cluster networks e.g. in terms of organisational learning. In what ways can the new cluster ‘Visit Värmland’ learn from interactions with the established clusters and their ways of working with regards to activities such as business development, innovation, marketing and competence development? In what ways can established clusters learn from a new cluster organisation for example through being exposed to different ways of working and thereby perhaps avoiding getting locked in in established work practices? Cross-cluster networks may provide opportunities for innovative thinking also in terms of organisation development since this type of interaction challenges what is taken for granted in organisational practices. In a third phase of the project we aim to expand the study to comparative research involving cross-cluster working with the experience economy in other regions and countries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Experience economy, cross-cluster, non-metropolitan regions
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-27273OAI: diva2:622128
Regional Studies Association Euroopean Conference: 'Networked regions and cities in times of fragmentation: developing smart, sustainable and inclusive places', Delft, the Netherlands, 13-16 May 2012
Available from: 2013-05-20 Created: 2013-05-20 Last updated: 2016-03-21Bibliographically approved

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Dahlström, MargaretaBraunerhielm, Lotta
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