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w w w. b r i g h t o n f u s e . c o m

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 ‘in the air’. 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

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