Stickiness and slipperiness are two extreme socio-economic and institutional conditions under which industrial clusters operate. In much of the economic geography literature, these conditions have been investigated separately. This article challenges this conventional view by developing an alternative framework that utilises some of the basic concepts and approaches of evolutionary thinking and dialectic understanding of agglomeration. With the evidence from Istanbul’s old city jewellery cluster, we argue that stickiness and slipperiness are inextricably tied together and the spatial configuration of clusters is the result of a complicated balance between these two. In Istanbul, these twin conditions are complementary and interact allowing the possibility to transform each other. In the course of cluster evolution, the interactions of the opposite trends result in the emergence of new actions, networks and contexts.

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