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Revisiting the role of selection for the evolution of industries


  • Markus Grillitsch
  • Josephine V. Rekers


Despite a growing reliance on evolutionary theories when explaining industrial dynamics, the mechanism of selection has received limited attention. Selection is often taken for granted and conceptualised as product market competition. We go beyond this view and distinguish between different types of selection—formal and social—and consider how these lead to different entities being selected. Formal selection relies on codified selection criteria and often applies in selection environments where processes are standardised and institutions formalised. Social selection relies on reputation, referrals and previous interactions in order to evaluate intangible properties of the entities being selected. We argue that firms compete in multiple selection environments, not limited to product markets, that different selection environments may rely on different types of selection and that this has profound implications for industrial dynamics. This theoretical discussion is inspired by empirical observations of the medical technology industry in Sweden.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus Grillitsch & Josephine V. Rekers, 2016. "Revisiting the role of selection for the evolution of industries," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 112-129, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:23:y:2016:i:1:p:112-129
    DOI: 10.1080/13662716.2015.1129317

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    Cited by:

    1. Grillitsch, Markus & Asheim, Bjørn & Nielsen, Hjalti, 2019. "Does long-term proactive agency matter for regional development?," Papers in Innovation Studies 2019/16, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation Research.
    2. Markus Grillitsch & Magnus Nilsson, 2019. "Knowledge externalities and firm heterogeneity: Effects on high and low growth firms," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(1), pages 93-114, February.
    3. Grillitsch, Markus & Sotarauta, Markku, 2018. "Regional Growth Paths: From Structure to Agency and Back," Papers in Innovation Studies 2018/1, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation Research.

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