Development of Agro-industrial Clusters in Russia: Synergetic Approach

Huhrin A.S., Bundina О.I., Аgnaeva I.Yu., Тolmacheva N.P.

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Development of Agro-industrial Clusters in Russia: Synergetic Approach

Huhrin A.S.1,, Bundina О.I.1, Аgnaeva I.Yu.1, Тolmacheva N.P.1

1All-Russia Research Institute of Economics, Labor and Management in Agriculture, Moscow, Russian Federation


Based on the analysis of objective statistical data authors identified a global megatrend of the XXI century and the related growth of knowledge-intensive clustering, which provides high efficiency and competitiveness of the world economy. Based on the study of synergy, the self-organization theory and the eastern philosophy on original principles of synergy, the synergetic approach to the cluster development is elaborated. Article shows an artificial and rapid creation and development of clusters that uses the achievements of synergy, in particular ultrafast processes of the hyperbolic growth. The proposed model of clustering considers these processes.

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Cite this article:

  • A.S., Huhrin, et al. "Development of Agro-industrial Clusters in Russia: Synergetic Approach." International Journal of Econometrics and Financial Management 2.4 (2014): 130-135.
  • A.S., H. , О.I., B. , I.Yu., А. , & N.P., Т. (2014). Development of Agro-industrial Clusters in Russia: Synergetic Approach. International Journal of Econometrics and Financial Management, 2(4), 130-135.
  • A.S., Huhrin, Bundina О.I., Аgnaeva I.Yu., and Тolmacheva N.P.. "Development of Agro-industrial Clusters in Russia: Synergetic Approach." International Journal of Econometrics and Financial Management 2, no. 4 (2014): 130-135.

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1. Introduction

Clustering in the Russian Federation has acquired an all-embracing nature. Clusters are being formed and developed in the majority of Russian regions. The existence of 25 regional innovative clusters is officially recognized by the state. While additional 27 agro-industrial clusters and seven clusters of food processing industry are being formed.

The formation of clusters conceals an enormous economic development potential for the whole of Russia, which is clearly evident from Table 1. The main feature of the chosen approach to the data representation is objectivity of the information used. The data is acuired from independent sources [1, 2, 3] and is being interpreted strictly on a logical basis, based on the figures. Any reader can easily verify the reliability and validity of conclusions made. The table includes primarily 10 countries with the maximum amount of public expenditure on R&D and education (as % of GDP), which are ranked according to their valume. For comparison reasons, Table 1 also includes data on Russia, China and India, as the largest and most dynamic world economies. Thus, the indicators in Table 1 are formed purposefully and without bias.

Analysis of the data in Table 1 shows that the list of countries formed by the specified criteria, includes countries, ranked the first 24 places (i.e. 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 12, 20, 21 and 24) in the world competitiveness ranking in 2013. These countries are the United States (1st), Switzerland (2nd), Sweden (4th), Singapore (5th), Germany (9th), and Denmark (12th). Performance indicators suggest that the most efficient economy of the world is in the United States.

This fact can be partly explained based on the data from Table 1. Although the United States spend only 8.2% of the GDP on research and education, in absolute term this value is the largest, especially on R&D (more than one third of the world expenses). In addition, the United States has the maximum number of clusters – 380 units. Efficiency of the economy of Denmark, which has, in our opinion, the most balanced and maximum relative expenditure on R&D and education, is combined with an almost complete clustering of the national economy. Denmark in 2011 had a maximum level of GNI per capita.

Therefore, analysis of the data shows that the higher the public expenditure on R&D and education is, as well as the level of clustering of the economy, the higher is the level of competitiveness and efficiency of the economy. Of course, the level of competitiveness and efficiency of the world’s economies is additionally influenced by other factors, but the factors that we named “research intensity and clustering” are the basic driver of economic development in the XXI century. Growth of R&D intensity and clustering are interconnected. Increase in the values of these indicators is consuggested to be the global megatrend of the XXI century. Thus, the country that gives weighted preference to the development of R&D within the formation of clusters will have the most dynamic development.

Given the objectivity of this global megatrend, Russia cannot ignore the mainstream of economic development of the XXI century. The country has a ‘young’ and unestablished disharmonious market economy. Russia does not have 100 years and nor it has 40 years waiting time for the natural development of the economy, and clusters in particular. Russia should choose and use the most rational, efficient, and withal a super-fast way (i.e. process) to achieve the goal (a hyperbolic growth). In other words, we propose to develop the economy and clusters by using a synergistic approach. Let us laconically consider the essence of this statement.

Table 1. Impact of R&D intensity and clustering on the competitiveness and efficiency of the economies of a number of countries in the world

2. The Cluster and the Synergy

Clusters are self-organizing forms of integration. It is generally recognized that the most effective clusters are formed naturally as a result of self-organization, for example, Silicon Valley, California wine cluster in the United States and others. Consequently, it is logical to consider the clusters as complex self-organizing systems and explore them in terms of synergy (i.e. the theory of self-organization). In our opinion, synergy is not only a new paradigm of development of agro-industrial clusters, but also the clusters in general. Especially since an original scientific direction of synergy is founded and in being developed Russia. This direction of synergy created by the outstanding Russian scientist Sergei Pavlovich Kurdyumov.

Namely, Kurdyumov has studied ultrafast processes in a hyperbolic growth [4, 5]. Synergetics investigates the mechanisms of self-organizing systems of a quite different nature, as it would seem (i.e. open and non-linear; starting with physics to sociology, and a private individual). Conclusions and recommendations of synergetics are based on the results of computational experiments and a number of rigorous mathematical results that are obtained for relatively simple models of open nonlinear environ. Development of non-linear mathematics, primarily based on the generalization of the results of computer calculations of mathematical models in different fields of science, it has become a source of new ideas and new paradoxical philosophical representations. It is appropriate to recall the words of a prominent scientist, the founder of tectology A.A. Bogdanov: “Is it permissible that the same laws to be applicaple to combinations of astronomical worlds and biological cells, living people and ethereal waves, scientific ideas and atomic energy? ... Mathematics provides a strong and irrefutable answer: yes" [6].

In 2003, S.P. Kurdiumov spoke at a conference in Suzdal to the humanities with a report on the symbolic theme “Acupuncture of the world” [4]. It has a great heuristic value, in which he not only revealed the essence of synergy in an accessible language, but also inadvertently pointed out the connection of synergy with certain synergistic anticipations of Chinese philosophy and strategy. Paradoxically, some of their achievements in synergy (e.g. proliferation of small) rediscovered the extreme efficiency of small resonant effects [4]. At the same time, special attention deserves such traditional Chinese concepts on strategy as ‘potential of a situation’, ‘adherence to the circumstances’, and ‘non-action’ [7, 8]. It seems to us that the heuristic synthesis and application of these concepts and theories will freshen the view of the opportunities and drivers for the development of clusters in the Russian Federation. Kurdiumov ended his brilliant performance in 2003 in Suzdal with the words: “No need to wait with bowed head for a new global catastrophe, but it is necessary to simulate a different path of development of the world”. To paraphrase, this brilliant idea, we could state the following: “Do not expect that someone abroad, for example, Michael Porter develops new organizational principles for the development of clusters for us. We need to simulate our own original Russian way of cluster development, which would be appropriate to our context”.

The need for a synergistic approach for the development of clusters is due to several reasons: clusters as real systems are open and non-linear; there is a similarity between the cluster and synergistic approaches; effective clusters organize themselves over a long period (10-30 years or more); the global systemic crisis. Let us explain the least obvious reasons: the second, third and fourth.

Cluster and synergetic approach are similar: the first, on the one hand, it not focuses on systemic issues of macroeconomic level, and on the other – not aimed at the study of individual organizations. In other words, the cluster approach involves research on organizational linkages, which tend to form a network. Synergetic approach has a similar unit of description as a set of objects, a network, properties are studied in ensembles, a set of objects, and not of individual units.

The world practice, primarily the experience of the United States, has shown that effective clusters organize themselves for a long time (more than 10 years), which is unacceptable for the Russian economy, for its agriculture under the conditions of WTO. If Russia is at a pace to create effective clusters, in 10 years time it may suffer huge economic losses. As the global competition consists not of individual firms and even TNCs, but clusters. Effective clusters should be created in 2-3 years, of course on a different basis, using new technologies and organizational principles.

The ultimate reason of a global scale that encourages to use synergetic approach is that currently there is a systemic global crisis, which manifests itself in many ways, particularly in the economic, environmental, as a consequence of the fact that mankind is completing its hyperbolic growth [4, 5]. In order to reduce in part the relief of this crisis, it is necessary to carry out the clustering of the world's economies, including Russia, which will contribute to the sustainable development of the ‘world – system’.

It should be noted that earlier in the debate on clusters in the journal “Economics of agricultural and processing enterprises” was published a number of scientific papers related to the systemic – synergistic approach and hyperbolic growth [9, 10, 11, 12]. However, these studies have pointed to the need for a synergistic approach, the use of hyperbolic growth processes, but did not answer the question: “How to do it?”. This publication addresses these issues in detail and constructively. Table 2 presents the basic idea of using the synergy in the development of clusters, its basic concepts, features and fundamental characteristics.

Table 2. Synergetics applied to the development of clusters

The first idea suggests that by using the achievement of synergy one can purposefully create effective clusters. In terms of synergy this idea can be revealed as follows: first of all, to form a cluster of optimal structure the interests, benefits, factors and trends, contradictions, obstacles in its development must be identified. Further, based on their analysis and evaluation, small resonant efforts should be applied to cluster to help create a target structure. Cluster organizes itself very quickly if the benefits of joining the cluster for potential participants are significant and obvious. In this case, cluster members will join the cluster at their own will.

The second idea of synergy in relation to clusters is the need to achieve sustainable development through the implementation of interconnected coevolution of clusters’ participants. For this purpose, in addition to traditional measures – development of a strategy for clusters, new organizational principles of the formation and development of clusters should be created and implemented in practice.

Next idea of using synergy in the development of clusters is to manage small resonance effects, which are based on accounting benefits derived by participants from joining a cluster. Clusters are self-organizing organizations, which are joined by the participants in a desire to receive certain benefits. The concept of ‘benefit’ is subject to ‘everything’, including the development of a strategy and tactics of clusters. But the ‘benefit’ is not only an ‘objective’, but also an ‘instrument’. Clusters are joined for profit gains. Profiting forms the goal of the cluster members. Therefore, managing the objective – benefits of the participants, one can control their actions and cluster as a whole.

It is possible to manage individual cluster members, the cluster as a whole, and its development by using small resonant effects. For this, cluster members need to be given the precise real benefits or losses they might get from joining the cluster or from other individual actions. Based on a deeper understanding of the situation, the manager or the head of a cluster can inform cluster participants on the benefits or losses from their actions, thus do a ‘soft’ guidance of their behavior. The early presented information will resonate with an already available information about the benefits and losses, and encourages them to act in the right direction.

The latter idea is to accelerate the development of effective clusters, reducing the period to 2-3 years instead of 10-30 years or more. This may be done, first of all, by the implementation of the first three ideas, as well as the use of new organizational principles and ultrafast processes of hyperbolic growth. In contrast to the naturally occurring clusters, engeneered cluster is created on the basis of innovative technologies, the use of which contributes to the rapid integration of potential cluster members.

Basic concepts of synergy in relation to the development of clusters are shown in Table 3. It should be noted that the novelty of this conceptual apparatus is the inclusion of a complex and sophisticated concepts of traditional Chinese strategy of ‘situational potential’ (i.e. SHI) [7, 8]. It is our deep conviction that the introduction, comprehension and application of this conceptual understanding of clusters may increase the efficiency of cluster governance.

The third column of the Table 2 shows the main features of the synergetic approach. We shall further explain the most important ones.

Polyalternativeness of cluster development. Nowadays it is recognized, that the most effective clusters emerge and organize themselves in a ‘natural’ way. A ‘natural’ way is an unintentional self-organization of clusters, nevertheless based on active meaningful human activities, their arbitrary decisions. At the same cluster (latent, potential) is created spontaneously, unintentionally, without knowing, what the end result would be. If the cluster is to create intentionally, which according to Marx differs a human being from bees, the effective cluster can be created in a shorter time and without errors of spontaneity. In terms of synergy not only natural way of cluster formation is real, but also an artificial – purposeful creation of effective clusters seems to be more rational and plausible, especially in terms of rapid scientific and technological progress. Moreover, the principal characteristic of the ‘cluster’ phenomenon, as shown by this study, is the presence of a unique competitive advantage due to location and the use of innovative technologies.

It is paradoxical and surprising that in ancient China, philosophers to some extent anticipated the opening of synergy. The latter makes it even more compelling. Moreover, some of the achievements of Chinese philosophy and art of strategy in a synergistic sense remain inaccessible because of their depth of penetration into the essence of reality. Such as the concept of a ‘situational potential’. It is denoted by the term ‘Shi’, which is extremely difficult to translate and roughly translates as ‘the force of circumstances’. Situational potential (i.e. SHI) identifies conditions or some aggregate force of events (i.e. of cluster formation) [7, 8].

A famous sinologist V.V. Maljavin defines the situational potential (i.e. ‘Shi’) as a kind of cumulative life force flow, dynamic configuration of forces created by the game all the circumstances ‘of the moment’ [7].

Table 3 shows the definition of situational potential from the point of view of synergetics. Necessity to introduce this term in the scientific context and its practical application in the formation of clusters is due to the fact that synergetics does not have a term that would characterize the results of the joint, collective interaction of all factors, or ‘game’ of all the circumstances of the situation, which are surrounding the cluster creation. In this case, at the heart of the ‘situational potential’ is placed a fundamentally important socio-economic category – the ‘benefit’. It socializes authors’ vision of the synergetic approach to the development of clusters.

Table 3. Basic concepts of synergy in relation to the development of agro-industrial clusters

Non-linearity (Table 2) is a fundamental characteristic of reality, synergy conjugated with ultrafast processes in a hyperbolic growth, which is reasonable to use for the construction of clusters and to improve their efficiency. The non-linearity refers to an unusual reaction to external stimuli, when the ‘right’ effect has a greater impact on the evolution of systems, such as clusters, than that of the more powerful, but not adequately organized relative to their own trends [4, 5].

Summarizing the results of the research of synergy and eastern worldview, authors propose the following set of principles of a synergetic approach to the development of clusters:

• Clusters are considered to be highly complex, open, non-linear systems, with all their properties and principles of development. The main thing is the account of self-organizing mechanisms, including chaos, treated as a constructive mechanism of self-organization, giving clusters the opportunity to enter their own trend of development as a tool of clusters’ self-complition up to the optimal structure.

• Clusters should be investigated in their development.

• There are always several ways to develop real systems (i.e. clusters), its irreversibility and alternativeness in perspective and retrospective.

• There may be a number of dead-end development paths of clusters.

• The present of cluster is determined by their past and future.

• Small causes can generate huge consequences. Under certain conditions (e.g. instability) of the small effects, causes (i.e. mikro-fluctuations) can break through to the macro-level and determine makro-picture of the evolutionary process of clusters’ development. Small effects can create clusters.

• At certain stages of clusters’ development, an ultrafast development of processes in a hyperbolic growth is possible. The mechanism of such a development is non-linear positive feedback. Hyperbolic growth can lead (under certain conditions) to localization, to the formation of non-stationary dissipative structures (i.e. clusters).

• Hyperbolic growth are regimes of growth, when the characteristic values repeatedly increase up to infinity in a finite time. Hyperbolic growth have a number of stages that significantly differ. A long metastable stage, when all the characteristics of the processes are growing very slowly and marginally; and a stage of the asymptotic instability near the the moment of peaking, when there is a threat of decay of a complex structure (i.e. clusters).

• A complex organization (i.e. cluster), is rather metastable. In order to maintain its integrity and to periodically overcome the tendency of stochastic decomposition, it must exist in the vibrational mode, which allows slowing processes and restoring the overall pace of development of the substructures within a complex structure (i.e. cluster). The fundamental principle of the behavior of complex systems – a periodic alternation of stages of evolution and involution, expansion and invertion.

• Not any structure (i.e. cluster) can can be implemented in this environment, but only a certain subset of structures (i.e. clusters), defined by the intrinsic properties of the environ; human actions are doomed to failure if they are contrary to the internal potency of the environ.

• Elimination of zigzags of clusters’ development is possible, if resonantly excite the correct structures in a nonlinear environ, which are almost perfect, close to the attractors – the target of evolution. Resonance is an unusual mutual reinforcement of parallel efforts, and the effectiveness of small, but topologically correct impact.

• Configurationly proper unification of parts into a whole (structures of varying degrees of sophistication, i.e. ‘all ages’, in a complex structure – cluster) makes it possible to accelerate the pace of evolution as of a whole (i.e. cluster) and its constituent parts (i.e. cluster members).

• Sometimes to speed up the emergence and development of a cluster, one must create and exacerbate conflicts, resolve them, for example, including a cluster member with certain interests.

• Adherence to the circumstances – a component of the capacity situation. Any act of violence is excluded, but followence is allowed. Potential effect should not be looked for, one should not put any effort for independent action. Effect (of cluster formation) derives from the natural process, and the whole strategy comes down to learn how to find a process that is moving in the right direction. The appearance of the effect occurs naturally, by itself.

• The art of strategy is to find the soonest possible the weakest trends that tend to develop a cluster: highlighting them in the moment when they are barely there and begin to influence the continuous course of the circumstances before they could emerge and visibly show their efficiency.

• Managing the development of a cluster is possible through situational potential.

3. The Synergetic Approach on Cluster Formation

Based on the synergetic approach, authors suggest a block diagram of a non-linear positive feedback, which is advisable to base the system of agro-industrial clusters and individual clusters of the system, such as clusters of a 2nd generation (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Block diagram of the nonlinear positive feedback in the system of agroindustrial clusters or cluster

Synergetic model of artificially generated cluster, based on innovative technologies, is shown in Figure 2. The latter is built on the principles of symbiosis, the positive and negative connections. The use of innovative technologies and their symbiotic synthesis generates specific, but not abstract economic interests – benefits to the creation of industrial cluster for their potential participants. This leads to a fast and efficient self-organisation of a cluster. The principle of symbiosis is implemented in such a way that the output products, for example, of a participant 1 is the starting material (i.e. input) for the participant 2. Thus, technology of the 1st convert the waste into resources that revert to the process of the object 2. This demonstrates a positive feedback process, which is capable of generating ultrafast processes of hyperbolic growth and considerably improve the functioning of clusters.

Figure 2. Synergistic model of a turbo-cluster, in a framewotk of technological perspective

It is crucial that the implementation of the cluster and its associated synergetic approach has the objective conditions in Russian agriculture [13, 14, 16].

Thus, the use of a synergistic approach with elements of Eastern worldview (i.e. the concept of ‘situational potential’, ‘following circumstances’, etc.), opens a new, unusual and paradoxical opportunities for the development of agro-industrial clusters in Russia.

4. Conclusion

Overall, the study of the synergetic approach to the development of agro-industrial clusters leads to several conclusions:

• Interconnected growth of research intensity and clustering in the world economies is a megatrend of development in the XXI century, which defines the civilized development in general. Russia cannot ignore this megatrend, or lag behind in development forever.

• Synergetic approach is appropriate to the development of agro-industrial clusters, as self-organizing forms of integration.

It is necessary to use three-way cluster formation: natural, artificial, and a combination of the two. The foundation of the cluster must be based upon innovative technologies, such as waste management in a variety of by-products.

• Heuristic synthesis of synergy and Eastern worldview seems productive in the theoretical and practical aspects.

• The formation of clusters is managabale by controlling the potential situation in which a cluster is formed.

• It is reasonable to adjust the modern definition of ‘agro-industrial cluster’ with characteristics of self-organization and synergy.

• The use of a synergistic approach enables to accelerate the emergence and development of clusters, considerably increase their efficiency.

• The implementation of ultrafast processes in clusters requires the clusters to be formed on the basis of the symbiosis, nonlinear positive and negative feedback. In each case, creating a cluster, one must find unique and distinctive forms of the implementation of these principles.


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