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2019 | nr 4 | 103--117
Tytuł artykułu

To Meet or to Connect? Face-To-Face Contacts vs ICT in Cluster Organisations

Warianty tytułu
Języki publikacji
The main purpose of the paper is to explore how cluster organisations (COs) take advantage of direct (F2F) and indirect (ICT) contacts in fulfilling their main roles. The paper addresses the research question: "How important are Information and Communication Technologies at each level of advancement of cluster cooperation?" The research was conducted in 2016 in four purposefully selected cluster organisations representing metal and ICT industry. The basic method of data collection was an in-depth individual interview. The authors applied the qualitative content analysis as the procedure to analyse the interviews. The research sample comprised of 30 cluster members. The research was based on an original theoretical concept referring to the trajectory of the development of cooperative relationships in cluster organisations. Four levels of development of cluster cooperation as well as three main roles of cluster organisation were distinguished. At each level, COs play one of three identified roles: a direct resource supplier (providing access to resources), a broker (facilitating resource exchanges) and an integrator (integrating into different dimensions), which gives a total of 12 specific roles. The research has shown that both direct and indirect contacts were significant both in fulfilling the roles assigned to the cluster organisations as well as in developing the cluster cooperation. It has been also observed that ICT importance was slightly different at each level of a CO's development. Only in one identified role (at level II: Process integrator) the importance of ICT tools was at least as great as F2F contacts. The research study contributes to the literature which refers to the question of face-to-face contacts established in geographical proximity versus the ones set up by using Information and Communication Technologies in cluster organisations. It was noticed that even though ICT plays a significant role in the functioning of COs, they cannot replace face-to-face contacts. They can only be their important complement at every level of CO development. There are also some limitations connected with the qualitative approach, which does not allow the author to generalise the findings. The first limitation is the small research sample. The second limitation is the subjectivity characterising qualitative research, mainly due to the applied techniques of data collection and analysis. (original abstract)
Opis fizyczny
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