European Spatial Research and Policy


This paper seeks to explore the issues of innovation and new path creation in the UK and Germany, illustrated through the case of the modern wind power industry. Taking an evolutionary perspective drawing on path dependence theory, the paper examines the role of niche environments in the creation of new economic pathways. The research finds that new economic pathways are more likely to develop in places where niche conditions provide receptive environments for innovations to flourish. The policy implications of the research include the importance of supporting niche environments that encourage growth in new sectors and the need for financial support to bring innovations to market, to encourage the development of new economic pathways.


innovation, new path creation, wind energy, niche environments, Germany, UK




AGTERBOSCH, S. and BREUKERS, S. (2008), ‘Socio-political Embedding of Onshore Wind Power in the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia’, Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 20, pp. 633–648.

ARTHUR, B. (1989), ‘Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-in by Historical Events’, Economic Journal, 99, pp. 116–131.

ARTHUR, W. M., DURLAUF, S. and LANE, D. (eds.), (1997), The Economy as a Complex Evolving System, II, Reading, MA: Perseus Books.

BEINHOCKER, E. D. (2006), The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity and the Radical Remaking of Economics, London: Random House.

BOSCHMA, R. and FRENKEN, K. (2011), ‘Technological Relatedness, Related Variety and Economic Geography’, [in:] COOKE, P., ASHEIM, B., BOSCHMA, R., MARTIN, R., SCHWARTZ, D. and TODTLING, F. (eds.), The Handbook on Regional Innovation and Growth, Chapter 14, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

BOSCHMA, R. and MARTIN, R. (2010), ‘The Aims and Scope of Evolutionary Economic Geography’, [in:] BOSCHMA, R and MARTIN, R (eds.), Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

BWE (Bundesverband Windenergie), (2012), Beschaftigte in der Windindustrie, http://www.wind-energie.de/infocenter/statistiken/deutschland/beschaeftigte-der-windindustrie 7th May.

DAVID, P. A. (1985), ‘Clio and the Economics of QWERTY’, American Economic Review, 75, pp. 332–337.

DOSI, G. (1982), ‘Technological Paradigms and Technological Trajectories: A Suggested Interpretation’, Research Policy, 11, pp. 147–162.

DOSI, G. (1984), Technological Change and Industrial Transformation: The Theory and an Application to the Semiconductor Industry, London: Macmillan.

DOSI, G. and GRAZZI, M. (2010), ‘On the Nature of Technological Knowledge, Procedures, Artefacts and Production Inputs’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34 (1), pp. 173–184.

EWEA (2004), Wind Energy: The Facts. Industry and Employment. Volume 3, Brussels.

EWEA (2009), Wind at Work: Wind Energy and Job Creation in the EU, Brussels.

FOSTER, J. (2005), ‘From Simplistic to Complex Systems in Economics’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 29, pp. 873–92.

GARUD, R. and KARNØE, P. (2001), Path Dependence and Creation, London: LE Associates.

GUNDERSON, L. and HOLLLING, C. S. (eds.), (2002), Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems, Washington: Island Press.

HOOGMA, R., KEMP, R., SCHOT, J. and TRUFFER, B. (2002), Experimenting for Sustainable Transport. The Approach of Strategic Niche Management, London: Spon.

IEEP (2009), Positive Planning for Onshore Wind, http://www.sofnet.org/apps/file.asp?Path=2&ID=4943&File=RSBP_Positive+Planning+Onshore+Wind.pdf 10th May 2011.

JACOBSSON, S. and LAUBER, V (2006), ‘The Politics and Policy of Energy System Transformation. Explaining the German Diffusion of Renewable Energy Technology’, Energy Policy, 34, pp. 256–276.

KAMMER, J. (2011), Die Windenergieindustrie. Evolution von Akteuren und Unternehmensstrukturen in einer Wachstumsindustrie mit raumlicher Perspektive (Mitteilungen der Geographischen Gesellschaft in Hamburg, Bd. 103), Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

KEMP, R., SCHOT, J. and HOOGMA, R. (1998), ‘Regime Shifts to Sustainability Through Processes of Niche Formation: The Approach of Strategic Niche Management’, Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 10 (2), pp. 175–195.

LANDUSE CONSULTANTS (2010), Research: Planning Implications of Renewables and Low Carbon Energy – Report to the Welsh Assembly Government, July, http://wales.gov.uk/docs/desh/research7100716planningimplicationsen.pdf 13th December.

LIPP, J. (2007), ‘Lessons for Effective Renewable Electricity Policy from Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom’, Energy Policy, 35 (11), pp. 5481–5495.

MARKARD, J. and TRUFFER, B. (2006), ‘Innovation Processes in Large Technical Systems: Market Liberalization as a Driver for Radical Change?’, Research Policy, 35, pp. 609–625.

MARTIN, R. and SIMMIE, J. (2008), ‘Path Dependence and Local Innovation Systems in City-Regions’, Innovation: Management, Policy and Practice, 10, pp. 183–196.

MARTIN, R. and SUNLEY, P. (2006), ‘Path Dependence and Regional Economic Evolution’, Journal of Economic Geography, 6 (4), pp 395–437.

MARTIN, R. and SUNLEY, P. (2010), ‘The Place of Path Dependence in an Evolutionary Perspective on the Economic Landscape’, [in:] BOSCHMA, R. and MARTIN, R. (eds.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 62–92.

METCALFE, J. S. (2005), ‘Systems Failure and the Case for Innovation Policy’, [in:] LLERENA, P. and MATT, M. (eds.), Innovation Policy in a Knowledge Based Economy, Berlin: Springer.

METCALFE, J. S., FOSTER, J and RAMLOGAN, R. (2006), ‘Adaptive Economic Growth’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 30, pp. 7–32.

MITCHELL, C., BAUKNECHT, D., CONNOR, P M. (2006), ‘Effectiveness Through Risk Reduction. A Comparison of the Renewable Obligation in England and Wales and the Feed-in System in Germany’, Energy Policy, 34 (3), pp. 297–305.

MUSGROVE, P (2010), Wind Power, Cambridge: CUP.

NELSON, R. R. and WINTER, S. G. (1982), An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change, Cam­bridge, MA, London: Belknap Press.

OECD (2009), OCED Patent Statistics Manual, Paris.

PARR, J. (2002), ‘Missing Elements in the Analysis of Agglomeration Economies’, International Regional Science Review, 25 (2), pp. 151–168.

PEREZ, C. (2010), ‘Technological Revolutions and Technological Paradigms’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34 (1), pp. 185–202.

PILAT, D. (2010), ‘Innovation and Green Growth: Findings from the OECD Innovation Strategy’, Workshop on Delivering Green Growth –Seizing New Opportunities for Industries, Seoul, 4th-5th March, http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/471/45008764.pdf 17th November.

SCHOT, J. and GEELS, F. W. (2007), ‘Niches in Evolutionary Theories of Technical Change: A Critical Survey of the Literature’, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 17 (5), pp. 605–622.

SCHUMPETER, J. A. (1911), The Theory of Economic Development, Cambridge: Harvard UP.

SCHUMPETER, J. A. (1939), Business Cycles. A Theoretical, Historical and Statistical Analysis of the Capitalist Process, New York, Toronto, London: McGraw-Hill.

SIMMIE, J. (2001), Innovative Cities, London: Spon.

STENZEL, T. and FRENZEL, A. (2008), ‘Regulating Technological Change. The Strategic Reactions of Utility Companies Towards Subsidy Policies in the German, Spanish and UK Electricity Markets’, Energy Policy, 36 (7), pp. 2645–2657.

SZARKA, J. (2007), Wind Power in Europe, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillian.

SZARKA, J. and BLÜHDORN, I. (2006), Wind Power in Britain and Germany: Explaining Contrasting Development Paths, Department of European Studies and Modern Languages, University of Bath, Anglo-German Foundation for the Study of Industrial Society.

WITT, U. (2003), The Evolving Economy: Essays on the Evolutionary Approach to Economics, Cheltenham, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

WOLSINK, M. and BREUKERS, S. (2010), ‘Contrasting the Core Beliefs Regarding the Effective Implementation of Wind Power. An International Study of Stakeholder Perspectives’, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 53 (5), pp. 535–558.

WWEA (World Wind Energy Association), (2009), World Wind Energy Report 2008, http://www.wwindea.org/home/images/stories/worldwindenergyreport2008_s.pdf 18th May 2011.

First Page


Last Page