SS16: Innovation and path dependence

Name and affiliations of the session organisers

  • Thomas Brenner (Philipps-Universität Marburg)
  • Sonja zu Jeddeloh (Philipps-Universität Marburg)
  • Abdulhak Anwer Alsharif (Philipps-Universität Marburg)
  • Felix Schmidt (Philipps-Universität Marburg)


Like a dirt track, innovation can be radical, unconventional, adapted to human’s requirements, sometimes arising in a spontaneous order, and, most importantly, always evolving. This characteristic of continuous development fascinates scientists ever since and has led to a huge corpus of literature in the geography of innovation. But still, innovation always happens within the (edges of the) known, also depending on the paths that someone already took. Following Brenner and zu Jeddeloh (2023), those paths can be identified, categorized, and used to analyze systems that do not only depend on their history but also are reproduced, shaped, and created by human action. Given the complexity and diversity of today’s economic and innovation systems, further detailed analyses are still needed to improve our knowledge of path dependence in innovation processes and economic development.

This special session follows the questions of how and why innovations emerge, evolve, and (maybe) end within path-dependent systems. Since those are complex and diverse issues, we highlight the necessity to do research with the same amount of diversity. Therefore, we encourage scientists from all fields and methodological backgrounds to contribute on, but not limited to: 

  • Innovations in emerging markets, e.g. electric mobility, and the dependence on previous markets and developments 
  • Innovations and path dependence in developing and emerging economies (including the aspects of fragmented innovation systems, the role of FDI, natural resources, quality of institutions, international organizations and social capital) 
  • The role of geographic circumstances for technological developments and innovation 
  • The implementation of (alternative) path in the existing economic, social, geographical, and political structures 
  • The role of path dependence and innovation for the 21st century challenges, e.g., in the context of climate change, political instability, food supply, energy, and the (demographic) change of labor markets 
  • (Empirical) applications of path dependence models 
  • The diverse roles of different stakeholders in the field of innovation and path dependence 
  • The drivers and barriers of innovation in path-dependent systems (including their variation between regions) 

Accepted papers for this session are planned to be part of a special issue of the Review of Regional Research, a SCOPUS and Web of Science indexed journal. 


Brenner, T., zu Jeddeloh, S. Path dependence in an evolving system: a modeling perspective. Cliometrica (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-023-00266-z


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