Institutional work in emerging industries: a comparative study of video games and potable water reuse

Authors: Huiwen Gong*, Department of Geography, Kiel University, Germany, Christian Binz, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Sweden
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: Institutional work, emerging industries, video games, potable water reuse
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Blue Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the recent decade, increasing academic and political attention has been paid to the initiation and development of new industries in regions. While the extant literature has contributed substantial insights into the mechanisms of new industry emergence, a range of significant questions remain unanswered, particularly concerning the institutional contexts and demand-side structures in which such industries develop. Based on the emerging trajectories of two sectors—the video games industry in Hamburg (early 2000s-), and the potable water reuse industry in California (1990-), this article investigates the efforts taken by multiple actors in legitimizing the emerging industries. The comparative results demonstrate that legitimation dynamics systematically differ between industries with varying innovation and valuation system structures as well as between industries that are new to the region (video games, ‘transplantation from elsewhere’) and industries that are new to the region and to the world (potable water reuse, ‘saltation’). Our framework contributes to recent debates on industrial path creation in regions by systematizing the forms of institutional work and policy interventions that appear effective for supporting emerging industries.

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