Designing a Paradigm Model to Improve Business Development Services in Business Clusters

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Management, Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Iran.

2 Department of Accounting, Faculty of Social Sciences, Imam Khomeini International University, Qazvin, Iran.


Objective: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in sustainable development and economic growth. These types of businesses significantly contribute to gross domestic product (GDP) generation, employment creation, income production, and poverty reduction in both developing and developed countries. Business clusters, as groups of commercial and non-commercial entities in a geographical location, collaborate in the production of similar and related products, establishing vertical and horizontal communications, and often engage in collective cooperation and joint initiatives. Cluster formation facilitates coordination in local networks among industries, universities, and other factors within a region, enabling them to gain competitive advantages over other regions. Business clusters require business development services to effectively harness the potential and resources of the region. A business cluster comprises not only member companies but also organizations, raw material suppliers, subcontractors, buyers, exporters, machinery suppliers, various support institutions, consultants, public services, transportation system-related units, and other business development service providers. The present research aims to provide a paradigmatic model for improving business development services in business clusters. It seeks to answer the question of how an appropriate model for enhancing business development services in business clusters looks like and what components it encompasses.
 Method: This research is categorized as goal-oriented, practical, and, in terms of nature, exploratory, employing a qualitative and data-driven research method. The statistical population comprises experts, stakeholders in the field of business clusters, and consultants based in business advisory centers nationwide in the year 2022. The sample was selected using purposive theoretical sampling, totaling 16 participants. The primary data collection tool consisted of semi-structured in-depth interviews, continuing until theoretical saturation was achieved. In addition to interviews, written sources were also utilized. Furthermore, online documents were examined through searches in databases and online resources, reviewing articles and relevant materials on the topic to obtain new and updated information. To ensure the research's validity, efforts were made to select a statistical sample of individuals with the necessary knowledge and expertise in the research field. Additionally, researchers' intervention in the study was minimized as much as possible. The findings of the interviews were provided to the participants (interviewees) after implementation for them to express their opinions regarding the accuracy and reliability. The validity of interview questions was confirmed using a content validity method, and its reliability was verified through a test-retest method (82.0). For data analysis, the MAXQDA 2020 qualitative analysis software package was employed.
Results: In this research, the collected data from semi-structured in-depth interviews underwent a three-stage coding process, including open, axial, and selective coding. In the open, axial, and selective coding stages, 1367 raw codes related to the main axes of the phenomenon, causal factors, contextual factors, intervening factors, impactful strategies, and implementation consequences of the extraction model were analyzed. After completing the coding stages, 66 core themes were confirmed as final themes and categorized into 17 main themes. In the domain of the central phenomenon, 1 main theme and 6 core themes, in the domain of influential factors, 2 main themes and 5 core themes, in the domain of contextual factors, 4 main themes and 16 core themes, in the domain of intervening factors, 5 main themes and 16 core themes, and in the domain of impactful strategies, 4 main themes and 20 core themes were identified. In the field of consequences, 1 main theme and 3 core themes were also identified as the most important components shaping the improvement of business development services in business clusters.
Conclusion: This research has proposed a paradigmatic model for enhancing business development services in business clusters.Top of Form
 The research findings demonstrate that the theoretical model of enhancing business development services, derived from the results of open and axial coding, articulates that business development services are influenced by contextual conditions, such as the demand and supply status of business services, contextual factors including institutional structures, political and economic factors, organizational functions and supporting institutions, and intervening conditions, such as the involvement of industrial estates, stakeholders, monitoring and evaluation, features and performance of the cluster development management group, empowerment, and trust-building, information, and communication. These factors create conditions that encompass a diverse range of actions and interactions related to business development services, including the creation and development of both hard and soft structures, networking among stakeholders, and diversification of the business development services domain. The consequences are also examined and evaluated at the macro, cluster, and business levels. Ultimately, the improvement of business development services has been chosen as the central theme, integrating and comprehensively examining other themes.


Main Subjects

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