Clusters and industrial districts: where is the literature going? Identifying emerging sub-fields of research

Jose Luis Hervas Oliver, Gregorio Gonzalez and Pedro Caja
The industrial district and cluster literature has generated an extraordinary quantity of articles, debates, and topics for discussion, and encompasses one of the most vibrant lines of research in the field of economics, geography, management and related disciplines. The literature, however, is fairly fragmented. In this paper, bibliometric methods are used to analyze cluster literature published between 1957 and 2014 in order to explore prospective research priorities through the method of bibliographic coupling. Beyond focusing on foundational works in the past, this approach shifts the focus away from the practice of analyzing co-citations and seminal contributions to one of looking at current and emerging trends in the literature. Using the ISI-Web of Knowledge (Web of Science) as a database, examination of two samples of 3,955 and 2,419 articles is made. Results reveal the existence of sub-fields of inquiry that are following their own particular research agendas, which remain distinct yet interconnected to one another.