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as well as at the level of individual work tasks, so
significant advantages if they operate within a rich
knowledge itself becomes both more specialised.
and diverse local economy.
The increased specialisation of both work and the knowledge that goes into it means the co-ordinating role of linking specialised work together becomes relatively more important, which is one reason why
The Brighton creative and digital cluster is perhaps an extreme example of this type of economic activity. Digital creative products and services often change
there are benefits from having fused skills.
fast in response to shifting customer tastes and
These changes in the economy have geographic
generated within temporary projects that combine
implications. When the economist Alfred Marshall
knowledge from inside the firm with the knowledge
was writing about industrial districts at the end of
and skills of external suppliers and contractors.
the 19th century, he was writing about a time when
Firms in this sector benefit from having a critical
the division of labour was relatively under-developed,
mass of skilled local suppliers and freelance
and geographic and knowledge specialisation
contractors who can add specific skills to projects
overlapped. As a result, industrial knowledge could
that the firms themselves cannot economically justify
be â€˜in the airâ€™. Within a local environment people
having in house. Hence an important strength of
could move from firm to firm, diffusing knowledge as
the local cluster relates to its ability to update and
they went, because the jobs they did would be very
improve a widely distributed body of knowledge.
similar in each firm.
This, in turn, benefits from the diversity and depth
The way local clusters, such as the Brighton creative and digital cluster, develop and grow today underscores how different the modern world is. The increasing complexity of modern goods and services means they require more extensive inputs of specialised knowledge. This has organisational
requirements. Such products and services are often
of the local sector, which allows knowledge and experience to be reused across projects and accumulated. This has led to cluster-level economies of scale and improvements in knowledge and knowledge integration that firms in the cluster can exploit and benefit from.
implications and generates a more interconnected
The history of the Brighton creative and digital
economy, subject to learning effects, increasing
cluster highlights how this cluster-level advantage
returns and co-ordination problems, all operating
was developed through a complex process that
at different geographic scales. Rather than regional
exploited different features of the local economic
agglomeration occurring because of knowledge
environment at different points in time. These local
spill-overs between firms producing the same
advantages often drew on specific features of the
goods with the same knowledge, in modern
local environment, such as a local artistic style
economies products and services change rapidly.
or the digital festival. However, many of the
As a result, economic benefits come from being
advantages are generic and provide broader
able to innovate, which requires the generation
lessons that can be used to enhance the specific
and integration of new knowledge. As Jane Jacobs
local features of other environments.
highlighted, this means firms can experience