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How Do Regions Diversify over Time? Industry Relatedness and the Development of New Growth Paths in Regions


  • Frank Neffke
  • Martin Henning
  • Ron Boschma


The question of how new regional growth paths emerge has been raised by many leading economic geographers. From an evolutionary perspective, there are strong reasons to believe that regions are most likely to branch into industries that are technologically related to the preexisting industries in the regions. Using a new indicator of technological relatedness between manufacturing industries, we analyzed the economic evolution of 70 Swedish regions from 1969 to 2002 with detailed plant-level data. Our analyses show that the long-term evolution of the economic landscape in Sweden is subject to strong path dependencies. Industries that were technologically related to the preexisting industries in a region had a higher probability of entering that region than did industries that were technologically unrelated to the region’s preexisting industries. These industries had a higher probability of exiting that region. Moreover, the industrial profiles of Swedish regions showed a high degree of technological cohesion. Despite substantial structural change, this cohesion was persistent over time. Our methodology also proved useful when we focused on the economic evolution of one particular region. Our analysis indicates that the Linköping region increased its industrial cohesion over 30 years because of the entry of industries that were closely related to its regional portfolio and the exit of industries that were technologically peripheral. In summary, we found systematic evidence that the rise and fall of industries is strongly conditioned by industrial relatedness at the regional level.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Neffke & Martin Henning & Ron Boschma, 2011. "How Do Regions Diversify over Time? Industry Relatedness and the Development of New Growth Paths in Regions," Economic Geography, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 87(3), pages 237-265, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:recgxx:v:87:y:2011:i:3:p:237-265
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1944-8287.2011.01121.x

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    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • N94 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology


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