Cluster(ing) Policies in Turkey: The Impact of Internationalization or the Imitation of Internationals

DULUPÇU M. A., Karaoz M., SUNGUR O., Unlu H.



Having a highly centralized administrative system, Turkey's development policies have been managed and directed by the central ministries which led to further state dependency in the local and avoid the self-evolution of regional policy making capacity. Thus the premature nature of regional development in Turkey, by and large, necessitates top-to-down approaches that enforced a unique trajectory of regionalization process instead of self-emerging regionalism. In the absence of augmented development tools and policy design, the cluster policies found a robust environment to grow. In other words the localities seek for the easiest and popular way toward development, and clusters have been perceived as the imitable regional development policy by many organizations and localities with a little questioning if they are appropriate for their localities or not. Surprisingly, known by only a few of the scholars, Turkey hosts one of the oldest clusters, now known as a touristic destination called as the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul which dates back to fifteenth century-the Ottoman period-exhibits cluster characteristics when there was no awareness about clusters. However by the establishment of the Republic with a strong central government to keep the nation and country intact, the regional structures inherited from the Ottoman Empire lost their ground. The recent emerge of cluster policies in Turkey is parallel to the acceleration of regional development particularly after the 2000s, mainly due to the EU accession process. Even the visit of Michael Porter's team to Turkey is a strong evidence of internationalization of national cluster policies. In this line the chapter tries to illustrate the international dimension in the development of cluster policies in Turkey. To do so it discusses the brief history of absence(ness) of regional development policies in Turkey and recent efforts to regionalize. In this regard the policy shifts towards clusters in various public policy documents are examined and the efforts by the international and local organizations for developing clusters in various parts of the country are shown.