City Research Online

The Primordial Soup: Exploring the Emotional Micro-Foundations of Cluster Genesis

Aversa, P. ORCID: 0000-0003-3175-9477, Furnari, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-3212-6604 & Jenkins, M. (2022). The Primordial Soup: Exploring the Emotional Micro-Foundations of Cluster Genesis. Organization Science, 33(4), pp. 1340-1371. doi: 10.1287/orsc.2021.1484


Previous research on the genesis of industrial clusters has focused on macro-level (e.g., agglomeration economies, institutions) or meso-level explanatory factors (e.g., serial entrepreneurship, spin-offs). Less studied are the micro-foundations of cluster genesis, intended as the individual- and group-level processes underlying such macro-level outcome. Yet, micro-foundations are key to understand the “primordial soup” of cluster genesis—i.e., the processes unfolding in the early moments of cluster formation, before the first emergence of commercial activity. Through a historical case study of the British Motorsport Valley cluster (1911-1970s), we trace back the primordial origins of this cluster to the casual leisure activities of groups of amateur motorsport enthusiasts who then prompted the professionalization of motorsport racing and its transformation into the business at the core of the industrial cluster. We theorize that clusters emerge through the layering of different domains (casual leisure, serious leisure, business), each made of three elements (actors, activities, artefacts), which interact via two micro-level mechanisms: 1) localizing passion, a shared emotional energy by which people become affectively attached to the spaces where they carry out activities that they enjoy; 2) domain repurposing, the shift of a configuration of actors, activities, and artefacts towards a new purpose, originating a new domain. While domain repurposing induces the transformation of activities from leisure to business (thus originating the industry at the core of a cluster), localizing passion anchors the activities to the same geographical area (clustering the industry). Our key contribution is to explore the emotional micro-foundations of cluster genesis.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Cluster genesis; Industry emergence; Micro-foundations; Emotions; Historical methods; Motorsport
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Paper_OS-MS-18-12190.R4_FINAL.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login