Drivers and challenges for cross-industry innovation in Western Norway

Project owner

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences,

Project categories

PhD Project

Project period

May 2017 - May 2021

Project summary

Western Norway, a region heavily dependent on the oil industry, is in need of economic restructuring. When the crude oil price dropped in 2014 it presented the entire oil and gas industry with a challenging situation. To recover from this, stabilise itself against future market fluxes, and follow the societal and political winds; the region, industry and the firms that operate within it need to undergo a restructuring process to develop a more diverse, environmentally sustainable and less oil dependent economy.
        The process of change, renewal and restructuring is a difficult and often costly process, and in times of economic prosperity, it is often easier to continue along existing paths. The paths of many of the firms operating within the oil and gas industry have been altered over the past few years, due to the low oil price. Though challenging, it may be advantageous for firms affected by this situation to diversify either their technology, structure or market segments. A likely course for these firms are to aspire to turn to different, but related industries, where they may apply their competence and technology without making major altercations. Alternatives for the oil and gas dependent industries may be related industries like renewable energy, maritime industry or marine industry. Thus, the economic downturn may set the precedence for innovativeness and change, and the firms’ and sectors’ ability to innovate are dependent both on firms innovation capability and regional resources.
        By looking at the firms' path dependency, when meeting with a need for cross-industry innovation and renewal, the processes working towards diversification may be identified and analysed. Further, I will consider the firms cognitive and geographical distance, related variety, competence base, networks, routines and relevant historical aspects in the firms path development towards their cross-industry innovation capability (CIIC).

Method

The data material will be based on qualitative semi-structured interviews with firms resulting in two articles, as well as a quantitative survey resulting in one article. The survey is conducted through the larger reserach project "Drivers of regional economic restructuring: Actors, institutions and policy".

The primary level of analysis will be at the organisational-levels, though connections to the regional level will be drawn. The interconnectedness between the two levels, i.e. the firm-region nexus is not much explored and the project intend to touch upon this matter in its exploration of cross-industry innovation capabilities. In this regard, Western Norway's dependency on the oil and gas industry, and the recent downturn within this segment makes for a unique research case. Cross-industry innovation at the firm level, and branching at the regional level are also relatively new fields of study, and further exploration of these subjects, as well as of CIIC, will serve to better ground and build upon these theories.