Heterogeneous agency in tourism path development in rural Western Norway

Project owner

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences,

Project categories

PhD Project

Project period

August 2018 - August 2021

Project summary

Evolutionary economic geography has become a largely structure-centred field. The role of agency, in creating both continuity and change, has remained largely neglected. This project aims to improve our understanding of the role of agency in industry creation and development. Thee aspects of the role of agency are being investigated:

- The changing roles of agency in the course of local industry evolution.
- Who the change agents are and how they operate.
- How different actors negotiate the direction of the sector.

How different actors negotiate the direction of the sector.Three cases of industry development in the tourism sector are being studied: Mass tourism in Flåm, rapidly growing hiking tourism in Odda, and niche tourism in Sogndal. The tourism sector lends itself to understanding the role of agency in industry development for two reasons. First, it is a fragmented sector consisting of a large amount of variegated actors who are forced to interact. This lays their actions relatively open for observation. Second, the sector strongly impacts local communities, with both positive and negative consequences. Thus, actors beyond industry are likely to get involved, and so it is possible to investigate the way they operate and their scope for action. The three cases are also interesting in their own right, shedding light on development strategies for rural areas, success-factors and pitfalls, as well as the different logics that co-exist in the travel industries.