IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Evolution in Economic Geography: Institutions, Political Economy, and Adaptation


  • Danny MacKinnon
  • Andrew Cumbers
  • Andy Pike
  • Kean Birch
  • Robert McMaster


Economic geography has, over the past decade or so, drawn upon ideas from evolutionary economics in trying to understand processes of regional growth and change. Recently, some researchers have sought to delimit and develop an "evolutionary economic geography" (EEG), aiming to create a more systematic theoretical framework for research. This article provides a sympathetic critique and elaboration of this emergent EEG but takes issue with some aspects of its characterization in recent programmatic statements. While acknowledging that EEG is an evolving and pluralist project, we are concerned that the reliance on certain theoretical frameworks that are imported from evolutionary economics and complexity science threatens to isolate it from other approaches in economic geography, limiting the opportunities for cross-fertilization. In response, the article seeks to develop a social and pluralist conception of institutions and social agency in EEG, drawing upon the writings of leading institutional economists, and to link evolutionary concepts to political economy approaches, arguing that the evolution of the economic landscape must be related to processes of capital accumulation and uneven development. As such, we favor the use of evolutionary and institutional concepts within a geographical political economy approach, rather than the construction of some kind of theoretically separate EEG-evolution in economic geography, not an evolutionary economic geography. Copyright (c) 2009 Clark University.

Suggested Citation

  • Danny MacKinnon & Andrew Cumbers & Andy Pike & Kean Birch & Robert McMaster, 2009. "Evolution in Economic Geography: Institutions, Political Economy, and Adaptation," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 85(2), pages 129-150, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecgeog:v:85:y:2009:i:2:p:129-150

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bosma, Niels & Hessels, Jolanda & Schutjens, Veronique & Praag, Mirjam Van & Verheul, Ingrid, 2012. "Entrepreneurship and role models," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 410-424.
    2. Joachim Wagner, 2006. "Are nascent entrepreneurs 'Jacks-of-all-trades'? A test of Lazear's theory of entrepreneurship with German data," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(20), pages 2415-2419.
    3. Helsley, Robert W. & Strange, William C., 1991. "Agglomeration economies and urban capital markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 96-112, January.
    4. Michael Fritsch & Oliver Falck, 2007. "New Business Formation by Industry over Space and Time: A Multidimensional Analysis," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(2), pages 157-172.
    5. Yasuhiro Sato & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Kazuhiro Yamamoto, 2012. "Market size and entrepreneurship," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(6), pages 1139-1166, November.
    6. Stuart S. Rosenthal & William C. Strange, 2003. "Geography, Industrial Organization, and Agglomeration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 377-393, May.
    7. Edward P. Lazear, 2004. "Balanced Skills and Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 208-211, May.
    8. Wagner, Joachim, 2004. "Are Young and Small Firms Hothouses for Nascent Entrepreneurs? Evidence from German Micro Data," IZA Discussion Papers 989, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Ucbasaran, Deniz & Westhead, Paul & Wright, Mike, 2009. "The extent and nature of opportunity identification by experienced entrepreneurs," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 99-115, March.
    10. Erik Stam, 2006. "Why Butterflies Don’t Leave. Locational behaviour of entrepreneurial firms," Papers on Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy 2006-20, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy Group.
    11. Åstebro, Thomas & Thompson, Peter, 2011. "Entrepreneurs, Jacks of all trades or Hobos?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 637-649, June.
    12. Daniel W. Elfenbein & Barton H. Hamilton & Todd R. Zenger, 2010. "The Small Firm Effect and the Entrepreneurial Spawning of Scientists and Engineers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(4), pages 659-681, April.
    13. Silva, Olmo, 2007. "The Jack-of-All-Trades entrepreneur: Innate talent or acquired skill?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 118-123, November.
    14. Michael Fritsch & Udo Brixy & Oliver Falck, 2006. "The Effect of Industry, Region, and Time on New Business Survival – A Multi-Dimensional Analysis," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 28(3), pages 285-306, May.
    15. Edward C. Norton & Hua Wang & Chunrong Ai, 2004. "Computing interaction effects and standard errors in logit and probit models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(2), pages 154-167, June.
    16. J. Wagner, 2003. "Testing Lazear's jack-of-all-trades view of entrepreneurship with German micro data," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(11), pages 687-689.
    17. Michael Storper & Anthony J. Venables, 2004. "Buzz: face-to-face contact and the urban economy," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(4), pages 351-370, August.
    18. Elisabeth Bublitz & Florian Noseleit, 2014. "The skill balancing act: when does broad expertise pay off?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 17-32, January.
    19. Michael Fritsch & Alexandra Schroeter, 2011. "Why does the effect of new business formation differ across regions?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 383-400, May.
    20. Alfonso Miranda & Sophia Rabe-Hesketh, 2006. "Maximum likelihood estimation of endogenous switching and sample selection models for binary, ordinal, and count variables," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(3), pages 285-308, September.
    21. Ari Hyytinen & Mika Maliranta, 2008. "When Do Employees Leave Their Job for Entrepreneurship?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(1), pages 1-21, March.
    22. Unger, Jens M. & Rauch, Andreas & Frese, Michael & Rosenbusch, Nina, 2011. "Human capital and entrepreneurial success: A meta-analytical review," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 341-358, May.
    23. Thakur, Sanjay Prasad, 1999. "Size of investment, opportunity choice and human resources in new venture growth: Some typologies," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 283-309, May.
    24. Dirk Oberschachtsiek, 2012. "The experience of the founder and self-employment duration: a comparative advantage approach," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 1-17, July.
    25. David B. Audretsch, 1995. "Innovation and Industry Evolution," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011468, July.
    26. Scott Shane, 2000. "Prior Knowledge and the Discovery of Entrepreneurial Opportunities," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(4), pages 448-469, August.
    27. Catherine Armington & Zoltan Acs, 2002. "The Determinants of Regional Variation in New Firm Formation," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 33-45.
    28. Uwe Cantner & Maximilian Goethner & Michael Stuetzer, 2010. "Disentangling the Effects of New Venture Team Functional Heterogeneity on New Venture Performance," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-029, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:ecgeog:v:85:y:2009:i:2:p:129-150. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.