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Navigation in new terrain with familiar maps: Masterminding socio-spatial equality through resource oriented innovation policy


  • Sjur Kasa

    (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo)

  • Anders Underthun

    (Department of Geography, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology)


This paper explores how political struggles influence innovation policy through a Norwegian case study on the formation of a state-funded research and development program for utilizing natural gas feedstock from the North Sea. Despite the apparent dominance of business, specialized branches of the state, and R&D institutions in the realm of innovation policy, the key argument of this paper is that labor unions and regional interests exert considerable influence in shaping national innovation policy, in particular when reflexively exploiting new forms of state accumulation strategies while retaining a defensive stance against deindustrialization. First, we argue that the struggle for state funding to natural-gasbased R&D was particularly effective because appropriate strategic political networks and alliances were mobilized. Second, the construction of strategic arguments to accommodate the social corporatist heritage of state intervention on the one hand and the competitionoriented language of flexible specialization on the other, proved crucial for acceptance as a state strategy. The paper engages a Strategic– Relational Approach to state theory and argues that this is a useful starting point when studying how particular contexts affect how and why certain innovation policies emerge. In doing so, we also address the lack of political analysis in innovation studies.

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  • Sjur Kasa & Anders Underthun, 2009. "Navigation in new terrain with familiar maps: Masterminding socio-spatial equality through resource oriented innovation policy," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20091217, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tik:inowpp:20091217 Note: Forthcoming in Environment and Planning A, volume 42, 2010.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fagerberg, Jan, 1987. "A technology gap approach to why growth rates differ," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2-4), pages 87-99, August.
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    3. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
    4. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
    5. Bloom, David E & Canning, David & Sevilla, Jaypee, 2003. "Geography and Poverty Traps," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 355-378, December.
    6. Jan Fagerberg & Martin Srholec, 2008. "Technology and development: Unpacking the relationship(s)," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20080623, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
    7. Fearon, James D, 2003. "Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
    8. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    9. Fagerberg, Jan, 1994. "Technology and International Differences in Growth Rates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 1147-1175, September.
    10. Dahlman, Carl J. & Ross-Larson, Bruce & Westphal, Larry E., 1987. "Managing technological development: Lessons from the newly industrializing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 759-775, June.
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