More on Path Dependence . . .

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More on Path Dependence . . .

On March 21, 2017, Posted by , in Research, tags , With No Comments

In developing my paper on path dependence and planning (see my previous post), I compiled a short bibliography. This wasn’t really part of the assignment, but it’s a good exercise and can create something of value for your own work and for colleagues.

For the curious . . Acemoglu, Daron and James A. Robinson. 2013. Why Nations Fail. The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, Profile Books: London.  Book for popular audiences that argues that long-standing cultural, economic, and social institutions explain the unevenness of development around the world.  A direct challenge to Jared Diamond’s thesis about environmental factors (availability of domesticatable species, etc) as a major driver of economic development. These authors have also published extensively in the scholarly literature and blog about their research and current news here:

Andersson-Skog, Lena. 2009. Revisiting railway history: the case of institutional change and path dependence. In The Evolution of Path Dependence, Lars Magnusson and Jan Ottosson, eds. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp 70- 86.   Example of path dependence as an analysis framework in the railway sector. Good literature review of similar studies. She covers the technological lock-in as well as the interrelationship between technology and institutions.

Arthur, W. Brian, 1990. Positive Feedbacks in the Economy. Scientific American, February 1990, pp 92-99.   In this magazine article Arthur describes the development of his ideas about increasing returns and how they feed into the path dependence concept. A good summary of his contributions.

Boschma, Ron and Ron Martin, 2007. Editorial: Constructing an evolutionary economic geography. Journal of Economic Geography, Vol. 7, No. 5 (September 2007), pp 537-548.  Editorial introduction to a special issue of this journal. The journal includes several papers on evolutionary theory for economic geography, network evolution, regional development, complexity theory and space, and knowledge development and institutions. Although a few years old now, a very nice overview of how theory and researchers are working in this cross-disciplinary field. Outline some basic, consensus principles forming for the discipline. For economic geography, evolutionary ideas have merit: space and place offer the conditions and constraints for how knowledge and rules develop. Several areas where additional theoretical development is yet needed are listed.

David, Paul A. 1985. Clio and the economics of QWERTY. American Economic Review, Vol. 75, No. 2, pp 332-337.  Seminal work in the path dependence literature. David explains how the QWERTY keyboard, a suboptimal technology came to be the standard through a process of technological ‘lock-in’.

David, Paul A. 2001. Path dependence, its critics and the quest for ‘historical economics’. In Evolution and Path Dependence in Economic Ideas, Pierre Garrouste and Stavros Ioannides, eds. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp 15-40.  David defends his ‘QWERTY-nomics’ against many of the common critiques of his ideas of technological lock-in and of path dependence more generally.

Garrouste, Pierre and Stavros Ioannides. 2001. Evolution and path dependence in economic ideas: past and present. In Evolution and Path Dependence in Economic Ideas: Past and Present, Pierre Garrouste and Stavros Ioannides, eds. Edward Elger: Cheltenham, pp 1-13.  Introductory chapter to an edited volume. These authors provide a history of the development of the path dependence concept, including criticisms and its use in economics and other disciplines. The balance of the volume offers examples of using path dependence in histories of technology and other social science fields. Lots of references provided.

Garud, Raghu, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Peter Karnøe. 2010. Path Dependence or Path Creation? Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 47, No. 4 (June 2010), pp 760-774. One of a two-part ‘debate over the concept of path dependence in this journal issue (along with Vergne and Durand, below).  These authors propose a focus on agency, action networks and actors rather than mechanical processes.  They defend the narrative approach, but suggest ways to strengthen narratives of path dependence.

Iammarino, Simona. 2005. An evolutionary integrated view of Regional Systems of Innovation: Concepts, measures and historical perspectives. European Planning Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp 497-519. A literature review on the concept of Regional Systems of Innovation  (RSI) along with a suggested framework that integrates bottom-up and top-down processes in an evolutionary fashion.

Jolink, Albert and Jack J. Vromen. Path dependence in scientific evolution. In Evolution and Path Dependence in Economic Ideas: Past and Present, Pierre Garrouste and Stavros Ioannides, eds. Edward Elger: Cheltenham, 205-224.  These authors apply the concept of path dependence to the evolution of scientific disciplines and scientific ideas. Their point of departure is that the underlying process of scientific progress is social in nature, thus socially-focused explanations are relevant.  They reconceptualize variety-adoption as diversification-conventionalization and discuss the ‘locked-in’ nature of conventional science. A useful reference for those with an interest in the sociology of science.

Kay, Adrian. 2005. A Critique of the Use of Path Dependency in Policy Studies. Public Administration, Vol 83, No. 3, pp 553-571. Paper in the management literature responding to the ‘fashionability’ of path dependence as part of the overall historical turn in the social sciences.  She outlines how a path dependence perspective might be applied in a public policy evolution analysis.

Krugman, Paul. 1997. How the Economy Organizes Itself in Space: A Survey of the New Economic Geography. In The Economy as an Evolving Complex System II, W. Brian Arthur, Steven N. Durlauf, and David A. Lane, eds. The Sante Fe Institute. Perseus Books: Reading, pp 239-258.  Excellent summary of the essential concepts of the New Economic Geography, including Krugman’s own contributions and his ’59 Cadillac model. In connection with path dependence, this chapter offers a good explanation of the concept of increasing returns in economic models.

Lagerholm, Magnus and Anders Malmberg. 2009. Path dependence in economic geography. In Evolution and Path Dependence in Economic Ideas, Pierre Garrouste and Stavros Ioannides, eds. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp 87-107. Discussion of using path dependence and technological lock-in for economic geography. Focus is on spatial clustering and knowledge economies. These authors generally find path dependence to be a useful concept in their field; they outline research questions that may be answered, at least in part, from a path dependence perspective.

Liebowitz, Stan J. and Stephen E. Margolis. 2000. Path dependence. Encyclopedia of law and economics1, pp. 981-998. Very thorough and well-considered critique of the concept of path dependence. Liebowitz and Margolis are among the leading critics of the idea; this online resource brings their ideas together.

Magnusson, Lars and Jan Ottoson, 2009. Path dependence: some introductory remarks. In The Evolution of Path Dependence, Lars Magnusson and Jan Ottosson, eds. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp 1-18.  Introduction to an edited volume. This chapter very clearly lays out the general shape of the concept of path dependence and  how it is applied as a theoretical and analytic construct in both economics and other disciplines. These authors point out the weakness of the theory and the lack of a consensus definition of the concept.

Mahoney, James and Kathleen Thelen. 2010. A Theory of Gradual Institutional Change. In Explaining Institutional Change. Ambiguity, Agency, and Power, James Mahoney and Kathleen Thelen, eds. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp 1-37.  In this first chapter of an edited volume filled with examples of institutional evolution, Thelen and Mahoney present their theory about how institutions evolve: slowly, gradually and through processes of layering onto existing structures or by displacing them. These authors do not completely reject path dependence for describing institutional change, but find it not appropriate for universal explanation of this phenomenon and are especially critical of ‘critical junctures’ as explanations for path emergence and trajectories. Their ideas are between institutional economics, historical institutionalism, and political science. Balance of the book filled with example studies of institutional change. [Hat tip, Bernhard Leubolt.]

Margolis, Stephen E, 2009. Path dependence and public policy: lessons from economics. In The Evolution of Path Dependence, Lars Magnusson and Jan Ottosson, eds. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp 166-190.  Margolis (writing solo this time) presents his criticisms of path dependence in this edited volume.  His chief complaint is that path dependence explains nothing that is not already explained by mainstream economics: transaction costs, sunk costs, durable investments, externalities, network effects and complementarities, and the like. For him, path dependence is really historical case writing, and offers almost nothing to explain how and why ‘history matters’. Despite his general suspicion, he does list several circumstances where it may arise in public policy settings.

Martin, Ron and Peter Sunley. 2006. Path dependence and regional economic development. Journal of Economic Geography, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp 395-437. Good introduction of path dependence in the area of regional development. Describe how economic geography adopted path dependence as a ‘third way’ between New Economic Geography and cultural and institutional approaches. A good theoretical exploration of the potential and pitfall of path dependence for anyone interested in its applicability to regional development questions.

North, Douglass C. 1993. Toward a theory of institutional change. In Political Economy: Institutions, Competition and Representation:  Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium in Economic Theory and Econometrics, William A Marnett, Melvin Iinich, Norman Schofield, eds. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp 61-69. Important author who proposed an analytic framework for institutional change. He asserted that understanding the influence of ideas and ideology, which are carried and transmitted by institutions, can help explain human decision making. Further, institutions play an important role in regulating economic behavior.  According to North, change in informal and formal institutions is slow and incremental, a path-dependent process constrained by the interests of those benefiting from the existing regime of formal institutions.

Öberg, PerOla and Kajsa Hallberg Adu. 2009. The deceptive juncture: the temptation of attractive explanations and the reality of political life. In The Evolution of Path Dependence, Lars Magnusson and Jan Ottosson, eds. Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, pp 108-138.  Very good discussion of one of the potential pitfalls in using the path dependence concept. These authors explain various methodological aspects including time horizons, political agency, and the like. While they believe path dependence can explain many outcomes in the economy and politics, they argue that the concept must continue to be developed and that researchers must not default to easy explanations. Demonstrate the ‘seductiveness’ of critical junctures with an analysis of the Swedish welfare system.

Pierson, Paul. 2000. Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics. American Political Science Review, Vol. 94, No. 2 (June 2000), pp 251-267. A political scientist takes up  path dependence for his discipline.  He argues this is a useful approach in political science because sequence and timing of historical events is important and many alternative results are possible, while once a certain trajectory is begun, it may be difficult to reverse.

Simmie, James. 2012. Path Dependence and New Technological Path Creation in the Danish Wind Power Industry. European Planning Studies, Vol. 20, No. 5, pp 753-772.  Excellent recent paper that offers some refinements of the application of path dependence, and greater focus on causality and process rather than simple description.  Uses the wind power industry in Denmark and the US as an example of technological innovation and adoption. [Hat tip, Alexander Auer.]

Vergne, Jean-Philippe and Rodolphe Durand. 2010. The Missing Link Between the Theory and Empirics of Path Dependence: Conceptual Clarification, Testability Issue, and Methodological Implications. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 47, No. 4 (June 2010), pp 736-759. One of a two-part ‘debate’ in this journal issue (along with Garud et al, above). These authors lay out a thorough discussion of the epistemological problems with the concept of path dependence. Includes a large table dissecting the use of path dependency as a theoretical framework. They suggest a much narrower definition to allow rigorous methodology and avoid problems around falsifiability/verifiability of contingent outcomes.

Wimmer, Andrew. 2006. Methodologies, and Metaphors on the Move. In Understanding Change: Models, Methodologies, and Metaphors, Andreas Wimmer and Reinhart Kössler, eds. Palgrave McMillan: Houndsmills/Basingstoke/Hampshire, pp 1-36.  Good reference for methodology issues related to interdisciplinary concept- and theory-borrowing, especially with respect to integrating them into economics.

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