Conceptualizing the materiality of path dependence in resource based industries

Authors: Bjornar Sather*, University Of Oslo
Topics: Economic Geography, Environment, Resources
Keywords: evolutionary economic geography, path dependency, materiality, forest industries
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Path-dependency is among the building blocks of evolutionary economic geography. This paper argues the role of materiality has to be included in analysis of path creation, destruction and renewal in natural resource based industries. Evolutionary economic geography sometimes seems to be immaterial and there is a need to pay closer attention to materiality. Based on the David-Arthur type of path dependence models, it is argued that the physical/chemical materiality of natural resources influence path creation, lock in, dissolution and possible renewal. The shifting role of materiality has a direct influence on the evolution of the forest industry and without an understanding of this role analysis will be incomplete. An analytic framework making it possible to understand the balance between how materiality enable and constrain industrial path dependency will be presented. An analysis of the shifting role of materiality in path establishment, destruction and renewal of the forest industries in eastern Norway, with an emphasize on the current crisis, is offered. An understanding of the flows of and processing of forest bio-mass is integrated into an analysis of technological change and the institutional set-up. The current imbalance between demand for pulp wood and wood for construction is particularly problematic. It is argued that the forest industries of eastern Norway are a case of related path dependence, with the physical and chemical composition of wood being one source of this relatedness

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