Poles of competitiveness embody the ‘new industrial policy’ implemented in France since 2004. This notion of pole is embedded in the French economic analysis tradition and has taken different forms over time. Paraphrasing the title of a famous article of Krugman, the paper questions this French ‘obsession’. The paper analyses the huge evolution of these poles of competitiveness in France, from top-down to bottom-up policies, presents the analytical frameworks underlying the present form and attempts to draw a first assessment of the policy implemented in 2004.
Keywords: clusters, competitiveness, globalisation, industrial policy, innovation, R&D