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Embracing the future: Path transformation and system reconfiguration for self-driving cars in West Sweden

Johan Miörner and Michaela Trippl

PEGIS from Institute for Economic Geography and GIScience, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract: The past years have witnessed a surge of academic interest into how new industrial paths are developed in regions. Transformation processes of existing regional industries have received less attention in recent work. We introduce the notion of ‘path transformation’ to describe a form of path development taking place within mature industries where both input and output factors are substantially altered and investigate how regional innovation systems are tackling challenges related to path transformation processes. Drawing on insights from the regional and technological innovation systems literatures, we develop an analytical framework that aims to elucidate the relation between path transformation and system reconfiguration. The framework suggests that regional system elements are layered or adapted to i) target the build-up of system functions regionally; ii) link up to system functions in other locations, and iii) transplant system functions from elsewhere to the region. The analytical framework is applied to an empirical case study of the transformation of the automotive industry in West Sweden towards self-driving cars. The empirical analysis provides support for the importance of the three types of system reconfiguration suggested by the framework, and emphasises the relevance of different types of resources. Furthermore, it highlights how actors tend to utilise previous networks and positions in global innovation systems rather than turning to the development of system functions regionally as the ‘default option’ of system reconfiguration.

Keywords: path transformation; system reconfiguration; self-driving cars; automotive industry (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 22 pages
Date: 2018
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