Theoretical advancement in economic geography by engaged pluralism
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Theoretical advancement in economic geography by engaged pluralism. Robert Hassink Dept . of Geography, University of Kiel, Germany. Fragmented vs. engaged pluralism (Barnes & Sheppard 2010).

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Theoretical advancement in economic geography by engaged pluralism

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Theoretical advancement in economic geography by engaged pluralism

Robert Hassink

Dept. of Geography,

University of Kiel,




engaged pluralism (Barnes & Sheppard 2010)

Evolutionary economic geography analyses and explains “the processes by which the economic landscape – the spatial organisation of economic production, circulation, exchange, distribution and

consumption – is transformed from within over time” (Boschma & Martin 2010, 6).

“why it is that some regional economies become locked into development paths that lose dynamism, whilst other regional economies seem able to avoid this danger” (Martin & Sunley 2006, 395)


advancing evolutionary economic geography by reviewing its core critique and proposed solutions, particularly that of geographical political economy.

  • Introduction

  • Evolutionaryeconomicgeography

  • Critique

  • Alternative paradigms

  • Empiricalreflection: locked in decline?

  • Conclusions

Source: Boschma & Frenken 2006

  • Evolutionaryconceptsandnotes:

  • Path dependenceand lock-ins,

  • Relatedandunrelatedvariety,

  • Co-evolution,

  • Sunkcosts,

  • Cluster lifecycles.

‘‘A path-dependent process or system is one whose outcome evolves as a consequence of the process’s or system’s own history’’ (Martin & Sunley, 2006, 399)

Path dependence is not past dependence;

it is rather a contingent process

‘‘Lock-in is this notion that most fully captures the idea that the combination of historical contingency and the emergence of self-reinforcing effects, steers a technology, industry or regional economy along one ‘path’ rather than another’’ (Martin 2010, 3)

Source: Boschma & Frenken 2006

Source: Boschma & Frenken 2006

3. Critique

Pike et al 2009, MacKinnon et al 2009:

limited importance attached to institutions

under-conceptualized notion of social agency and power

neglected multi-scalar interrelatedness and embeddedness of firms

Source: Hassink & Klaerding 2012

4. Alternative paradigms

Geographical political economy

Institutional economic geography

Relational economic geography

5. Empirical reflection: locked in decline?

Hassink, R. (2010) Locked in decline? On the role of regional lock-ins in old industrial areas. The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography, 450.

"When the wind of change blows, some build walls, others build windmills“


Chinese proverb

Monostructure despite strong de-industrialisation after reunification

All yards are part of larger concern

Strong competition with East Asian shipyards

Strong state support (federal state, Land, EU) to modernise production capacities (3 billion €, 500,000 € per job) => capacity limitation


Yard cities

Local trade


State of




Federal government

European Shipbuilding


European Commission

  • Lobby:

  • Against capacity limitation

  • Against alleged dumping prices of Korean yards


  • Capacity limitations have become less strict

  • WTO case and due to that allowance of subsidies (84 million €)

  • Westmünsterland

  • History

  • cross-border textile region since the 19th Century

  • impulses from Twente (the Netherlands)

  • early 1960s about 75% of manufacturing employment in the textile industry

  • crisisand de-industrialisation

  • Political reactions

  • Little protest against plant

  • closures => “quiet” restructuring due to the lack of lock-ins:

  • few subsidies

  • support for new industry

  • entrepreneur Schmitz

Company reactions

Technical textiles:

Examples: car industry,

medical technology, fishery,

road and railroad construction,


  • Daegu

  • History

  • genesis during colonial period

  • strong growth during 1960s/1970s (targeted industry)

  • natural fibres => synthetic fibres

  • crisisand de-industrialisation

Political reactions



Strongly subsidised: € 650 mill.

Kim Dae-Jung’s official pledge (공약)

& regionalism


  • Fashion industry

  • Upgrading textile

  • Exhibitions

  • Problems:

  • Conflicts

  • Gap

6. Conclusions

Evolutionary economic geography has some clear and powerful theoretical notions

In order to overcome shortcomings in favour of engaged pluralism => incorporating institutional and relational economic geography => evolutionary economic geography as a pluralistic project

In favour of theoretical stability

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