Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research

No 2019/12: Trinity of Change Agency: Connecting Agency and Structure in Studies of Regional Development

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

Abstract: The promise of connecting agency and structure in studies of regional development is to disentangle causal effects and to better understand to what extent and how individuals, groups of individuals, and organisations can shape regional trajectories. This is not without challenges because agency and structure are deep theoretical constructs, which are not easily translated into empirical research. We have devoted a research project to study how agency and structure are connected in the context of regional development and have faced many difficulties on the way. Here, we would like to share our experiences and proposed solutions grouped into six challenges, which were present in all of the 12 comparative case studies in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The challenges refer to the ontology of agency and structure, the research design, the time period of study, the spatial scale, the research instrument, and the data collection.

Keywords: agency; structure; regional development; research design; comparative case study; critical junctures; key events

JEL-codes: P48; R10; R58

18 pages, July 23, 2019

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