The importance of networks for cluster reputation and sustainability

Why do creative entrepreneurs, businesses and artists have the tendency to flock together? Yosha addressed this question on the Creative Networks and Cultural Ouptut conference at Trinity College Dublin (19-20 June 2015).

In her presentation, Yosha investigated the relation between social networks and creative clusters by studying the social and locational practices of clustered creative workers. Her research explored how social interactions and networks leave an imprint on places, and in this process, transform a place’s social and cultural value into an image that transcends the actual creative workforce and inhabitants. The hypothesis is that clusters are, in this way, engraved with their residents’ and visitors’ characteristics and develop a social image.

Building upon 43 interviews with creative workers in small-scale creative clusters in The Netherlands, this research indicated that this socially constructed image has a profound influence on the place’s reputation, and that this reputation serves a double role for creative entrepreneurs and artists. First, the networked reputation of a place attracts new creative entrepreneurs, seeking to reap the benefits of these social networks. Second, being located in the proximity of an influential creative network may provide a ‘seal of quality’. Hence, creative workers are attracted to locations with potentially relevant networks, might use this network in informal interactions (e.g. ‘smalltalk’) and formal collaboration, and use the reputation of the place in order to present a creative, professional or ‘connected’ image.

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