The study of regional growth paths is a key theme in economic geography and of elemental interest for regional development. This paper addresses the interplay between path-dependent, structural forces and the construction and utilization of opportunities through agentic processes. Extending the evolutionary framework, it is argued that not only history but also perceived futures influence agentic processes in the present and thus shape regional development paths. The paper discusses the relevance and interdependencies of three types of agency with distinct theoretical roots, namely Schumpeterian innovative entrepreneurship, institutional entrepreneurship and place-based leadership, as main drivers of regional structural change.
Grillitsch, M., & Sotarauta, M. (2019). Trinity of change agency, regional development paths and opportunity spaces. Progress in human geography
Associate Professor at Department of Human Geography and Director at CIRCLE
Lund University Sweden
The interview transcript
Thank you Marcus again for having this chat with me about one of your papers, how are you doing?
Hello Lorena it’s a pleasure to be here again.
I want to talk with you about the paper you wrote in which you analyzed the role of change agency in regional development, could you please tell me what the paper was about?
Yes, it is about the actions about how actors like firms, local government, universities and others civil society actors, how they shape the future of the region they are in.
It sounds very interesting and I see that the key notion of the paper is change agency, could you please explain it?
Yes, agency is about actions, so actions of individuals, groups of individuals and organizations and the consequences of these actions, both intended and unintended and change agency is than other actions that are directed towards making a change to the region structures.
I see, thank you for that and based on these notions, which ones will you say are the key findings of your paper?
Yes, there are three I would say, so we did a in-depth literature review and found three types of agency, change agency that matter, that help actors to shape the region. So the first one is innovative entrepreneurship and this is about creating new products, new services, the processes, new organizations and this is something that humankind has been doing from ancient times, from the idea of the wheel to the semiconductor to the combustion engine, this is something that we humans have been doing, then the second thing is institutional entrepreneurship and that’s about changing the rules of the game, so former institutions informal institutions and this is also something that humankind has been doing from ancient romans to the global world we live in nowadays and the third type of change agency that we identified in literature is place-based leadership and this is a form of you could say collective action, so actions that are directed to coordinate activities in the region to create for instance common resources like educational institutes or infrastructure or resources that benefit others in the region, we found that these are three types of agency that having effect on the economy and institutions and places
Very interesting indeed, thank you and what about your personal motivation in writing this paper?
yes it was a bit of a frustration because much of the literature, but also the policy debate is about the structures that almost determine let’s say the outcome so you could say that non-core regions regions outside the agglomerations they have bad structural preconditions and therefore they fall behind and there was little room for agency so to what extent and how actors can maybe overcome structural barriers and so with this paper we wanted to shed light on this black
spot in economic geography.
That’s great and what about policy implications, what would you suggest to policy makers based on your research?
Yes this research would suggest that not only structures matter but also agency, so also the actions of policy makers firms universities civil society actors and then it’s about empowering these different actors to make a change in the region so I think to put an emphasis on facilitating this change process and supporting the change agents would be one important policy implication.
Thank you very much and it’s been again a pleasure for me to have you here in a coffee break I wish you all the best for your future research and hope to see you again soon.
That would be very nice bye bye.
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