Revisiting the role of selection for the evolution of industries

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Despite a growing reliance on evolutionary theories when explaining industrial dynamics, the mechanism of selection has received limited attention. Selection is often taken for granted and conceptualised as product market competition. We go beyond this view and distinguish between different types of selection—formal and social—and consider how these lead to different entities being selected. Formal selection relies on codified selection criteria and often applies in selection environments where processes are standardised and institutions formalised. Social selection relies on reputation, referrals and previous interactions in order to evaluate intangible properties of the entities being selected. We argue that firms compete in multiple selection environments, not limited to product markets, that different selection environments may rely on different types of selection and that this has profound implications for industrial dynamics. This theoretical discussion is inspired by empirical observations of the medical technology industry in Sweden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-129
Number of pages18
JournalIndustry and Innovation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Feb 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Geography

Free keywords

  • evolution
  • industrial dynamics
  • med-tech
  • Selection


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