Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2013

Zooming In: A Practical Manual for Identifying Geographic Clusters

by Juan Alcacer and Minyuan Zhao


This paper takes a close look at the reasons, procedures, and results of cluster identification methods. Despite being a popular research topic in strategy, economics, and sociology, geographic clusters are often studied with little consideration given to the underlying economic activities, the unique cluster boundaries, or the appropriate benchmark of economic concentration. Our goal is to increase awareness of the complexities behind cluster identification, and to provide concrete insights and methodologies applicable to various empirical settings. The organic cluster identification methodology we propose is especially useful when researchers work in global settings, where data available at different geographic units complicates comparisons across countries.

Keywords: Industry Clusters; Complexity; Global Range;


Alcacer, Juan, and Minyuan Zhao. "Zooming In: A Practical Manual for Identifying Geographic Clusters." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-042, November 2013.