Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2015/5: The Challenge of Combinatorial Knowledge Dynamics to Study of Institutions, Towards an Actor-centric Bottom-up View of Institutions

Markku Sotarauta ()
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Markku Sotarauta: University of Tampere, School of Management

Abstract: This paper argues that obstruction of agency, intention and interest is a weakness in institutional studies in geography. There is a need to systematically anchor a role for agency in institutionally oriented combinatorial knowledge dynamics studies, and thus to reach beyond snapshots of top-down institutions, and to produce a more nuanced view on institutions bottom up. Without in-depth studies on how actors perceive institutions, reflect upon them and either comply with them or aim to push for institutional change, it may impossible to fully understand the true impact of them. The aim here is to construct a link between agency and institutions in the context of combinatorial knowledge dynamics. To elaborate the conceptual link between institutions and combinatorial knowledge dynamics, this paper discusses three intertwined theoretical lenses. First, a conceptual distinction between cumulative and combinatorial knowledge dynamics is introduced; second, the basic tenets of institutions in regional economic development are discussed; and, third, a conceptual framework to study institutions in the context of combinatorial knowledge dynamics is constructed. The main scientific motivation here is to open a bottom-up view on institutions by linking them to the combinatorial knowledge dynamics approach by using agency as an intermediating framework.

Keywords: Institution; agency; knowledge base; combinatorial knowledge; institutional entrepreneurship

JEL-codes: B52; O30; O38; O43; R11; R50

40 pages, February 8, 2015

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