Path Dependence and the Spatial Economy: A Key Concept in Retrospect and Prospect

  • Ron Martin
Reference work entry


The concept of path dependence has rapidly assumed the status of a “fundamental principle” in the new paradigm of evolutionary economic geography that has emerged over the past few years. This chapter reviews the interpretation and use of this concept within this new field. The dominant interpretation has been that of “lock-in,” by self-reinforcing mechanisms, of particular (equilibrium) patterns of industrial location and regional specialization. This model is somewhat restrictive, however, and does not capture the full repertoire of ongoing path-dependent evolutionary trajectories that can be observed in the economic landscape. To respond to this limitation, the chapter suggests a “developmental–evolutionary” model of path dependence that includes “lock-in” as a special case, but which is also more general in its application and relevance.


Local Economy Path Dependence Local Firm Agglomeration Economy Local Industry 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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