The geography of legitimacy formation in emerging industries - mapping global discourse coalitions in the modular water technology industry

Authors: Jonas Heiberg, Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Bernhard Truffer, Utrecht University, Christian Binz*, EAWAG
Topics: Economic Geography, Social Geography, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: path creation, legitimacy, global innovation system, discourse network analysis, modular water technology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Blue Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Research in economic geography and transition studies has recently advocated a more systemic and multi-scalar understanding of the determinants of early industry formation and path creation processes. Yet, most of the existing work has focused on supply-side knowledge and innovation dynamics in newly emerging industries, while downplaying the equally important socio-cultural and institutional determinants of path creation. In particular, the formation of valuation-related innovation system resources like financial investment, market formation and technology legitimacy was only cursorily addressed from a multi-scalar perspective. This paper addresses this gap by creating a conceptual framework and methodological approach for mapping the global legitimation dynamics in newly emerging industries. Empirically, it explores the multi-scalar technology legitimation processes for novel water technologies that may contribute to a transition towards more sustainable urban water infrastructures. Discourse Network Analysis (DNA), a methodology combining elements from discourse analysis and social network analysis, is applied to a global sample of newspaper articles covering legitimacy formation processes for modular water technologies. Preliminary results indicate that legitimacy formation depends on complex, multi-scalar actor configurations that resemble the existing evidence on the knowledge dimension. Regional policies to support the legitimation of emerging industries should reflect on these multi-scalar interdependencies and create interventions that either weaken the influence of powerful external ‘regime’ structures or support the local creation and anchoring of supportive ‘niche’ discourses.

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