Going global in a changing economy

Researchers David Wolfe and Meric Gertler study local approaches to international success

Date published: 2008-01-28 1:33:22 PM

How does regional innovation become international success? David Wolfe and Meric Gertler of the University of Toronto, along with an international team of co-investigators, sought to answer this question through a project designed to determine the factors which affect the success of local industrial clusters across Canada.

Based on an analysis of 26 case studies, their research focused on a range of industrial settings, from knowledge-intensive areas such as the biomedical industry to more traditional manufacturing sectors such as the automotive and steel industries.

Prior to this study, it was widely believed that strong local competition was the primary force behind the development of clusters that would be considered competitive on the international stage. However, Wolfe’s and Gertler’s team concluded that successful innovation in Canada is not determined by local or regional factors alone—a number of the cases cited confirmed that knowledge and supply are drawn from both local and global sources. Interestingly, the business areas that are growing the fastest are those that are international in terms of sources and scope.

The results of their research present significant implications for policy-makers and industry stakeholders at all levels and may be used to adopt effective policies to stimulate local economic and innovative capacity across the country.

David Wolfe's and Meric Gertler's research on industrial clusters is supported by SSHRC's Major Collaborative Research Initiatives program.