Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography

January 8, 2010

#10.01 The Aims and Scope of Evolutionary Economic Geography

Ron Boschma and Ron Martin

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This aim of this paper is to present the objectives and scope of an evolutionary approach to economic geography. We argue that the goal is not only to utilise the concepts and ideas from evolutionary economics (and evolutionary thinking more broadly) to help interpret and explain how the economic landscape changes over historical time, but also to reveal how situating the economy in space adds to our understanding of the processes that drive economic evolution, that is to say, to demonstrate how geography matters in determining the nature and trajectory of evolution of the economic system. We will argue that evolutionary economic geography is concerned with the spatialities of economic novelty; with how the spatial structures of the economy emerge from the micro-behaviours of economic agents; with how, in the absence of central coordination or direction, the economic landscape exhibits self-organisation; and with how the processes of path creation and path dependence interact to shape geographies of economic development and transformation, and why and how such processes may themselves be place dependent. Economic transformation proceeds differently in different places, and the mechanisms involved neither originate nor operate evenly across space. Our concern is both with the ways in which the forces making for economic change, adaptation and novelty shape and reshape the geographies of wealth creation, work and welfare, and with how the spatial structures and features so produced themselves feed back to influence the forces driving economic evolution. In the final part, we summarize a number of papers that have contributed to evolutionary economic geography, and which will be published in The Handbook on Evolutionary Economic Geography that is edited by the two authors, and forthcoming at Edward Elgar.

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