Purpose – This paper aims to marry Michael Porter’s industrial cluster theory of traded and local clusters to Richard Florida’s occupational approach of creative and routine workers to gain a better understanding of the process of economic development. Design/methodology/approach – Combining these two approaches, four major industrial-occupational categories are identified. The shares of US employment in each – creative-in-traded, creative-in-local, routine-in-traded and routine-in-local – are calculated, and a correlation analysis is used to examine the relationship of each to regional economic development indicators. Findings – Economic growth and development is positively related to employment in the creative-in-traded category. While metros with a higher share of creative-in-traded employment enjoy higher wages and incomes overall, these benefits are not experienced by all worker categories. The share of creative-in-traded employment is also positively and significantly associated with higher inequality. After accounting for higher median housing costs, routine workers in both traded and local industries are found to be relatively worse off in metros with high shares of creative-in-traded employment, on average. Social implications – This work points to the imperative for the US Government and industry to upgrade routine jobs, which make up the majority of all employment, by increasing the creative content of this work. Originality/value – The research is among the first to systematically marry the industry and occupational approaches to clusters and economic development.
Competitiveness Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 19, 2015