Institutional Agency and Path Creation

Institutional Path from Industrial to Knowledge City


This chapter argues for the need to focus more explicitly on institutions and the related agency to gain a better understanding of the relationship between micro and macro levels and thus of path creation. The core concepts related to path creation and institutional agency are investigated. The research question is: What are the main institutional strategies adopted by intentional actors, independently or in collaboration, in their efforts to boost institutional path creation and renewal? This question is scrutinized in the context of a knowledge-city development and use Tampere, Finland as a case in point. The analysis reveals that the early stages of new path creation can be explained by both institutional factors and/or the strong entrepreneurial agency It also highlights the crucial role of the institutional agency shaping the rules of the game and the playing field for industry-oriented efforts.


Institution Agency Path creation Tampere 



With this piece of writing colleagues from Tampere, Finland wish to congratulate Björn on his birthday, and especially appreciate his longstanding contribution to the field and warm friendship. As a highly-cited scholar Björn is used to seeing his name in the list of references. As a token of appreciation, we decided not to cite Björn’s work in this chapter, and thus provide him with a rare opportunity to see a scholarly piece without his name.

The authors are grateful to Kevin Morgan and Jon P. Knudsen for very constructive and useful pieces of advice.


  1. Ahonen, P. (1993). Tampereen teknillisen korkeakoulun synty [The birth of Tampere University of Techonology]. In Tekniikan Tampere. Tampereen teknillinen seura.Google Scholar
  2. Battilana, J., Leca, B., & Boxenbaum, E. (2009). How actors change institutions: Towards a theory of institutional entrepreneurship. The Academy of Management Annals, 3, 65–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benneworth, P. (2007). Leading innovation: Building effective regional coalitions for innovation. Research report. London: Nesta.Google Scholar
  4. Boschma, R. (2017). Relatedness as driver of regional diversification: A research agenda. Regional Studies, 51(3), 351–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boschma, R., & Frenken, K. (2006). Why is economic geography not an evolutionary science? Towards an evolutionary economic geography. Journal of Economic Geography, 6, 273–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boschma, R., & Martin, R. (2010). The aims and scope of evolutionary economic geography. In R. Boschma & R. Martin (Eds.), The handbook of evolutionary economic geography (pp. 3–39). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brömmelstroet, M. T., & Schrijnen, P. M. (2010). From planning support systems to mediated planning support: A structured dialogue to overcome the implementation gap. Environment and Planning B: Planning Design, 37(1), 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carrillo, F. J., Yititcanlar, T., García, B., & Lönnqvist, A. (2014). Knowledge and the city: Concepts, applications and trends of knowledge-based urban development. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Dawley, S. (2014). Creating new paths? Offshore wind, policy activism, and peripheral region development. Economic Geography, 90(1), 91–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Djelic, M.-L., & Quack, S. (2007). Overcoming path dependency: Path generation in open systems. Theory and Society, 36(2), 161–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Drori, I., & Landau, D. (2011). Vision and change in institutional entrepreneurship. New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  12. Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A. (1998). What is agency? The American Journal of Sociology, 103(4), 962–1032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garud, R., & Karnøe, P. (2001). Path dependence and creation. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Garud, R., Kumaraswamy, A., & Karnøe, P. (2010). Path dependency or path creation? Journal of Management Studies, 47, 760–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gertler, M. S. (2010). Rules of the game: The place of institutions in regional economic change. Regional Studies, 44(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grillitsch, M. (2016). Institutions, smart specialisation dynamics and policy. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 34(1), 22–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Häikiö, M. (2015). Tampereen teknillisen yliopiston historia 1965–2015 [History of the Tampere University of Technology 1965–2015]. Kirjokansi, 97, Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.Google Scholar
  18. Hassi, O. (1993). Tampereen teknillinen korkeakoulu vuosina 1975–1992 [Tampere University of Technology in 1975–1992]. In Tekniikan Tampere. Tampereen teknillinen seura.Google Scholar
  19. Holmen, A. K. T., & Fosse, J. K. (2017). Regional agency and constitution of new paths: A study of agency in early formation of new paths on the west coast of Norway. European Planning Studies, 25(3), 498–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Isaksen, A. (2015). Industrial development in thin regions: Trapped in path extension? Journal of Economic Geography, 15(3), 585–600. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jepperson, R. L. (1991). Institutions, institutional effects, and institutionalism. In W. W. Powell & P. J. DiMaggio (Eds.), The new institutionalism in organizational analysis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kaarninen, M. (2000). Murros ja mielikuva. Tampereen yliopisto 1960–2000 [Period of transition and image: University of Tampere 1960–2000]. Tampere: Tampereen yliopisto & Vastapaino.Google Scholar
  23. Kostiainen, J., & Sotarauta, M. (2003). Great leap or long march to knowledge economy: Institutions, actors and resources in the development of Tampere, Finland. European Planning Studies, 10(5), 415–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lemola, T. (2016). Finland: Building the base for telecom breakthrough. A paper presented in “Industrial Policy for New Growth Areas and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems”. Helsinki 28–29, November 2016.Google Scholar
  25. Lewin, K. (1951). Field theory in social sciences. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  26. Linnamaa, R. (2002). Development process of the ICT cluster in the Jyväskylä urban region. In M. Sotarauta, H. Bruun (Eds.), Nordic perspectives on process-based regional development policy. Nordregio report 2002:3, Stockholm.Google Scholar
  27. Männistö, J. (2002). Voluntaristinen alueellinen innovaatiojärjestelmä: Tapaustutkimus Oulun ict-klusterista [A voluntaristic regional innovation system: The ICT cluster in the Oulu area]. Acta universitatis lappoensis 46. Rovaniemi.Google Scholar
  28. Martin, R. (2000). Institutional approaches to economic geography. In T. Barnes & M. Sheppard (Eds.), A companion to economic geography (pp. 77–94). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  29. Martin, R. (2010). Roepke lecture in economic geography—rethinking regional path dependence: Beyond lock-in to evolution. Economic Geography, 86, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mazzucato, M. (2014). The entrepreneurial state: Debunking public vs private sector myths. London: Anthem Press.Google Scholar
  31. Miettinen, R. (2002). National innovation system: Scientific concept or political rhetoric. Helsinki: Edita.Google Scholar
  32. Morgan, K. (1997). The learning region: Institutions, innovation and regional renewal. Regional Studies, 31, 491–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. North, D. C. (1991). Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Parkinson, M., Meegan, R., Karecha, J., Evans, R., Jones, G., Sotarauta, M., et al. (2012). Second tier cities in Europe: In an age of austerity why invest beyond the capitals? Liverpool: Liverpool John Moores University.Google Scholar
  35. Pelkonen, A. (2008). The Finnish competition state and entrepreneurial policies in the Helsinki region. Research reports no. 254, Helsinki University Print. University of Helsinki, Department of Sociology.Google Scholar
  36. Rafiqui, P. (2009). Evolving economic landscapes: Why new institutional economics matters for economic geography. Journal of Economic Geography, 9(3), 329–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rasila, V. (1988). Markkinapaikasta tehdaskaupungiksi [From market place to industrial city]. In Tampereen historia I. Tampereen kaupunki.Google Scholar
  38. Ritvala, T. Y., & Kleymann, B. (2012). Scientists as midwives to cluster emergence: An institutional work framework. Industry and Innovation, 19, 477–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2013). Do institutions matter for regional development? Regional Studies, 47(7), 1034–1047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Romanainen, J. (2001). The cluster approach in Finnish technology policy. In Innovative clusters: Drivers of national innovation systems (pp. 377–388). Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  41. Scott, W. R. (2001). Institutions and organizations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Seppälä, R. (1998). Hyökkäävä puolustaja. Maakunnan selviytymistaistelu ja Tampereen Kauppakamari 1918–1998 [Offensive defender: Regional fight for survival and Tampere Chamber of Commerce 1918–1998]. Otava, Helsinki.Google Scholar
  43. Simmie, J. (2012). Path dependence and new technological path creation in the Danish wind power industry. European Planning Studies, 20, 753–772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sotarauta, M. (2016). Leadership and the city: Power, strategy and networks in the making of knowledge cities. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Sotarauta, M. (2017). An actor-centric bottom-up view of institutions: Combinatorial knowledge dynamics through the eyes of institutional entrepreneurs and institutional navigators. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 35(4), 584–599.Google Scholar
  46. Sotarauta, M., & Heinonen, T. (2016). The Triple Helix model and the competence set: Human spare parts industry under scrutiny. Triple Helix, 3(8), 1–20.Google Scholar
  47. Sotarauta, M., & Mustikkamäki, N. (2015). Institutional entrepreneurship, power, and knowledge in innovation systems: Institutionalization of regenerative medicine in Tampere, Finland. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 33(2), 342–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sotarauta, M., & Pulkkinen, R.-L. (2011). Institutional entrepreneurship for knowledge regions: In search of a fresh set of questions for regional innovation studies. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 29, 96–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sotarauta, M., Heinonen, T., Sorvisto, P., & Kolehmainen, J. (Eds.) (2016). Innovation ecosystems, competencies and leadership: Human spare parts and venture finance ecosystems under scrutiny. Tekes review 329/2016. Tekes, Helsinki.Google Scholar
  50. Statistics Finland. PX-Web Database.Google Scholar
  51. Streeck, W., & Thelen, K. (2005). Introduction: Institutional change in advanced political economies. In W. Streeck & K. Thelen (Eds.), Beyond continuity: Institutional change in advanced political economies (pp. 1–39). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Suvinen, N. (2014). Individual actors building an innovation network. In R. Rutten, P. Benneworth, D. Irawati, & F. Boekema (Eds.), The social dynamics of innovation networks (pp. 140–156). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Tirronen, J. (2005). Modernin yliopistokoulutuksen lähtökohdat ja sivistyskäsitys. Kuopion yliopiston julkaisuja E. Yhteiskuntatieteet 122. Kuopio.Google Scholar
  54. Wacklin, M. (1995). Lainahöyhenissä kohti teknopolista. Kronikka 30-vuotiaan TTKK:n vaiheista [In borrowed plumes towards technopole: 30 years chronicle of Tampere University of Techology]. Tampereen teknillinen korkeakoulu.Google Scholar
  55. Weick, K. E., & Quinn, R. E. (1999). Organizational change and development. Annual Review of Psychology, 50, 361–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Weik, E. (2011). Institutional entrepreneurship and agency. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 41(4), 466–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ManagementUniversity of TampereTampereFinland

Personalised recommendations