Knowledge Cluster Formation as a Science Policy in Malaysia: Lessons Learned

Hans-Dieter Evers, Solvay Gerke


Regional science policy aims to create productive knowledge clusters, which are central places within an epistemic landscape of knowledge production and dissemination. These so-called K-clusters are said to have the organisational capability to drive innovations and create new industries. Many governments have used cluster formation as one of their development strategies. This paper looks at Malaysia’s path towards a knowledge-based economy and offers some evidence on the current state of knowledge cluster formation in that country. If the formation of a knowledge cluster has been the government policy, what has been the result? Is there an epistemic landscape of knowledge clusters? Has the main knowledge cluster really materialised? Data collected from websites, directories, government publications and expert interviews have enabled us to construct the epistemic landscape of Peninsular Malaysia, and Penang in particular. We identify and describe several knowledge clusters with a high density of knowledge producing institutions and their knowledge workers. An analysis of the knowledge output, measured in terms of scientific publications, patents and trademarks, shows that knowledge clusters have indeed been productive – as predicted by cluster theory – although the internal working of clusters require further explanation.

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