The notion of regional clusters of firms has been the subject of research for over a century. Recent research has increasingly reported evidence of cluster firms’ growth, contrasting with the general assumption that being embedded in a cluster restrains the possibility for firm growth in terms of attitude, opportunities and resources. However, despite the recent research interest on those firms that have experienced growth, detaching from the cluster cliché of being small, local and homogeneous, little is known on the antecedents of such growth. In this paper, we use the lenses of firm-level entrepreneurship as a framework for analysing, comparing and generalising the empirical results of four case studies (Alessi, Illycaffè, Luxottica and Geox). We argue that local and non-local resources and competencies, together with firm capabilities of acquisition and recombination, are the main antecedents of the continuous process of opportunity recognition and exploitation, i.e., growth of cluster firms.
Keywords: entrepreneurial growth, innovation, clusters, cross-case study, knowledge