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Rethinking Path Creation: A Geographical Political Economy Approach

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Danny MacKinnonORCiD, Professor Stuart Dawley, Professor Andy Pike



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Taylor and Francis, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


A burgeoning strand of Evolutionary Economic Geography (EEG) research is addressing questions of regional path creation, based upon the idea that place-specific legacies and conditions play a critical role in supporting the emergence of new economic activities. Yet there has been little effort thus far to take stock of this emerging body of research. In response, the aims of this paper are to offer a fresh synthesis of recent work and to develop a broader theoretical framework to inform future research. First, it presents a critical appraisal of the state of the art in path creation research. In an effort to address identified gaps in EEG research, this incorporates insights from sociological perspectives, the global production networks (GPN) approach and transition studies. Second, the paper’s development of a systematic theoretical framework is based upon the identification of key dimensions of path creation and their constitutive inter-relations. This contribution is underpinned by a geographical political economy (GPE) approach which provides the ontological basis for the integration of the five key dimensions of path creation within an overarching framework and the positioning of regional processes in relation to the broader dynamics of uneven development. Informed by GPE, the argument is that knowledgeable actors, operating within multi-scalar institutional environments, create paths through the strategic coupling of regional and extra-regional assets to mechanisms of path creation and associated markets. To inform further research, the paper outlines four concrete propositions regarding the operation of path creation processes in different types of regions and explores these through case studies of Berlin and Pittsburgh.

Publication metadata

Author(s): MacKinnon D, Dawley S, Pike A, Cumbers A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Economic Geography

Year: 2019

Volume: 95

Issue: 2

Pages: 113-135

Online publication date: 15/01/2019

Acceptance date: 19/01/2018

Date deposited: 22/06/2018

ISSN (print): 0013-0095

ISSN (electronic): 1944-8287

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/00130095.2018.1498294


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