Cluster Policies in Bulgaria: European Integration, Postsocialist Dynamics and Local Level Initiatives


This article investigates public policies aimed at developing industrial clusters in Bulgaria by looking at initiatives at supranational, national and local levels. It argues that cluster policies have functioned as paths directing actions in the postsocialist transformation of Bulgaria. In doing so, it seeks answers to the following research questions: what are the connections between policy implementation, institutional changes and economic transformation at the national and local levels in Bulgaria; what is the role of the European Union in shaping these changes; and what is the role of local actors in shaping the policies and development trends within one specific cluster? Through an analysis of government policies, data and empirical research, the article shows how different groups (foreign consultants, local elites and national administrators) have understood the concepts of ‘clusters’ and ‘industrial districts’ in different ways, then used these concepts as a tool to access foreign resources. The analysis highlights both similarities and differences in cluster policies at the three levels considered.