Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

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

No 2018/1: Regional Growth Paths: From Structure to Agency and Back

Markus Grillitsch () and Markku Sotarauta ()
Additional contact information
Markus Grillitsch: Lund University, Postal: Sweden
Markku Sotarauta: University of Tampere, Postal: Finland

Abstract: The study of regional growth paths is a key theme in economic geography and of elemental interest for policy makers concerned with regional development. Evolutionary theory explains the path-dependent nature of regional development, and points to its open-ended nature. This paper addresses the interplay between path-dependent, structural forces and the construction and utilization of opportunities through agentic processes. Extending to the evolutionary framework, it is argued that not only history but also perceived future opportunities influence agentic processes in the present and thus shape regional growth paths. Building on recent work about foresightful, strategic and distributed agency, this paper identifies three forms of agency, Schumpeterian innovative entrepreneurship, institutional entrepreneurship and place leadership, that call for and necessitate each other in the process of shaping regional growth paths. It is argued that such a holistic view is essential to understand regional development processes and in particular structural change as manifested in economic diversification and new industrial path development.

Keywords: Regional development; agency; path-dependency; Schumpeterian innovative entrepreneurship; institutional entrepreneurship; place leadership; economic diversification; new industrial path development

JEL-codes: B52; L16; O30; R10

23 pages, January 31, 2018

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