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When history does not matter? The rise of Quebec’s wine industry



This article contributes to the debate on new regional path development, proposing an analytical framework that accounts for new industries arising almost ex nihilo in places with weakly developed preconditions. The paper explores how seemingly adverse initial conditions can be translated into a new development path over time and casts light on the interplay between structure and agency in such settings. We find that new path development processes are not necessarily conditioned by past trajectories or by prior regional and technological capabilities, but can be initiated by forward-looking, entrepreneurial pioneers and consolidated by actors who develop the wider institutional and organizational structures to facilitate further growth of the new industry. We study the case of the wine industry in Southern Quebec, which emerged despite weakly developed preconditions and developed into a fully established, legitimized and supported path over the past forty years.
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
Available online 23 December 2021
0016-7185/© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
When history does not matter? The rise of Quebecs wine industry
Simon Baumgartinger-Seiringer
, David Doloreux
, Richard Shearmur
, Michaela Trippl
Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna, Austria
HEC Montreal, Montreal, Canada
School of Urban Planning, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Path development
Wine industry
This article contributes to the debate on new regional path development, proposing an analytical framework that
accounts for new industries arising almost ex nihilo in places with weakly developed preconditions. The paper
explores how seemingly adverse initial conditions can be translated into a new development path over time and
casts light on the interplay between structure and agency in such settings. We nd that new path development
processes are not necessarily conditioned by past trajectories or by prior regional and technological capabilities,
but can be initiated by forward-looking, entrepreneurial pioneers and consolidated by actors who develop the
wider institutional and organizational structures to facilitate further growth of the new industry. We study the
case of the wine industry in Southern Quebec, which emerged despite weakly developed preconditions and
developed into a fully established, legitimized and supported path over the past forty years.
1. Introduction
The question of how new industries and economic activities emerge
and grow in regions is a central theme of evolutionary economic geog-
raphy (MacKinnon et al. 2019). Scholars have examined the forms,
mechanisms and geographical patterns of new industry formation
(Hassink et al. 2019), alongside historical and institutional path de-
pendencies (Boschma and Frenken 2011; Martin and Sunley 2006). Key
questions relate to the origins of new industries and to how regions
develop new sources of industrial growth. Various approaches have
been employed to tackle these queries. They have been explored through
the concept of windows of locational opportunity (WLO) (Storper and
Walker 1989), in research on clusters and industry formation dynamics
(e.g. Menzel and Fornahl 2010) and in work on regional diversication
and relatedness (Boschma 2017). Recently, there have been calls for
broader conceptualization of new path development that goes beyond
the related and unrelated diversication dichotomy, taking account of
differentiated typologies with a wide range of sources, mechanisms, and
local and non-local capabilities, including closer attention to ‘the social,
cultural and institutional environment of economic activities(Hassink et al.
2019, 1637).
Earlier perspectives on the development of new growth paths
highlight the locational freedom of emerging industries (Storper and
Walker 1989) and the impact of exogeneous perturbations, chance
events or historical accidents as triggers of change (Krugman 1991). In
contrast, more recent approaches emphasize the role of regional struc-
tural preconditions and share the key argument that new industrial
paths emerge out of existing economic activities, assets and compe-
tencies (Martin 2010; Boschma 2017). Studies have indeed found evi-
dence that new industries are rooted in pre-existing local knowledge
bases and the historical economic structure of a region (Boschma and
Frenken 2011).
This article examines an industry which emerged almost ex nihilo, the
wine industry in Southern Quebec. Our inquiry explores the creation of a
new path that bears no obvious relationship to historical conditions, to
pre-existing regional, institutional, or technological capabilities, nor to
favorable natural conditions (Phillips 2017). From a viticulture
perspective, climate change has recently enabled the production of
grapes with some oenological potential (Jones 2019), but this occurred
after the entrepreneurial beginnings of the wine industry in the early
1980s. Thus, even though viticulture has a longstanding history else-
where, it is new to the region of Southern Quebec, does not rely on deep-
* Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (S. Baumgartinger-Seiringer), (D. Doloreux),
(R. Shearmur), (M. Trippl).
Following Binz et al. (2016, 177) we dene a new industrial path as ‘a set of functionally related rms and supportive actors and institutions that are established and
legitimized beyond emergence and facing early stages of growth, developing new processes and products.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
journal homepage:
Received 21 June 2021; Received in revised form 30 October 2021; Accepted 15 December 2021
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
seated local traditions, and its recent growth rests on no prior local
knowledge base, no rm clustering, nor on an initial endowment of
support organizations (Doloreux and Frigon 2019).
The case therefore sheds light on new path development in a region
presenting unfavorable preconditions. However, in contrast to earlier
accounts of industry emergence that downplay the role of regional
preconditions, this paper does not explain the rise of Quebecs wine
industry by neglecting structural inuences, but by reconsidering the
opportunities and constraints inherent in certain structural congura-
tions (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. 2021a) and by exploring the role of
agents in exploiting existing conditions and overcoming constraints over
time (Grillitsch and Sotarauta, 2020; MacKinnon et al. 2019). In other
words, the rise of Quebecs wine industry is not apprehended as the
result of exogeneous perturbations, chance events or windows of loca-
tional opportunity that would have been open in many places, but as the
outcome of interplay between distinct regional structural conditions and
particular types of agency. Thus, following Hassink, Isaksen, and Trippl
(2019), we suggest a comprehensive approach to how new economic
activities emerge and grow in regions, shedding light on a range of
different relevant actors, on mechanisms beyond path branching, and on
regional institutional conditions and dynamics.
This paper makes two key contributions. First, we challenge estab-
lished perspectives on seemingly weak structural preconditions for new
path development and cast light on the potentials for industry emer-
gence residing in such settings, particularly in early phases of new path
development. Second, in line with other recent contributions (Simmie
2012; Boschma et al. 2017; Grillitsch and Sotarauta 2020), we contend
that structural perspectives alone are insufcient to explain how, where
and why new industrial paths develop in regions, paying explicit
attention to the decisive role played by agency. To this end, we adopt a
dynamic multi-actor approach and seek to unravel how multiple agents
translate seemingly weak structural preconditions into a new, estab-
lished and institutionalized industrial path over time.
2. Literature review and analytical framework
There is widespread consensus in economic geography that some
places are better suited to nurture new industries than others (Martin
2010). In particular, the ‘evolutionary turnin economic geography has
sparked interest in what constitutes a favorable environment for the rise
of new industries.
Industries never arise out of a complete void (Gustafsson et al. 2016)
and the (regional) factors and conditions that inuence industry emer-
gence often reect a localitys economic, social, cultural, and institu-
tional history (Martin 2010). Assuming that economic development is
(Hassink et al. 2019; Gong and Hassink 2020), evolutionary
economic geography (EEG) has led to better understanding of structural
preconditions for new path development. However, in this paper we
argue that established perspectives provide an incomplete view of how
structural preconditions affect the emergence of new industries in re-
gions (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. 2021a).
2.1. Weak structural preconditions in the EEG literature
Earlier accounts of path development portray the creation of new
industrial paths either as the result of historical accidents, random
events with a signicant long-term effect (Krugman 1991), or as
serendipitous outcomes of ‘windows of locational opportunitythat are
open in early phases of industry emergence due to the generic properties
of new technologies(Dawley 2014, 94). Accordingly, these canonical
models of path dependence (Martin 2010) downplay the role of regional
preconditions to the point where they hardly matter.
More recent contributions challenge these models, arguing that pre-
existing regional structures inuence the emergence of new industries,
either in a positive or negative way (Martin and Sunley 2006; Martin
2010). Martin (2010) draws attention to place-specic competences,
skills and experiences inherited from previous rounds of regional eco-
nomic development, which are said to provide a platform for subsequent
rounds and constitute either an enabling or constraining environment
for new path development. Despite this more dynamic view, the model
draws a somewhat dismal outlook for regions with weak structural
preconditions: they will struggle to turn their poor endowments of his-
torically inherited assets into dynamic environments that support new
industrial paths.
The regional diversication literature (Boschma 2017) offers a
similar perspective on the role of pre-existing structural conditions. Its
core argument is that new industries branch out of existing ones based
on the re-combination of related local capabilities (Boschma and
Frenken 2011; Boschma 2017). Hence, a regional industry mix that
consists of a large variety of different yet related economic activities
(‘related variety) exhibits a high diversication capacity due to its
numerous possible re-combinations. Consequently, regions with low
relatedness, where there is little to diversify into, are constraining en-
vironments (Balland et al. 2016).
Recently, scholars have developed systemic perspectives on new
path development by combining EEG insights with the Regional Inno-
vation System (RIS) approach (Isaksen and Trippl 2016; Trippl et al.
2020). They distinguish between thick and thin RISs, and contend that
opportunities for (new) path development vary considerably across
these two types of RISs (Isaksen and Trippl 2016). Thin RIS offer weak
conditions due to their poor endowments of industrial structures,
capable rms, skills, knowledge and other assets, and due to their weak
organizational support structures and institutions (Isaksen and Trippl
2016). Empirical studies of new path development in peripheral regions,
often equated with thin RISs, suggest that importing and anchoring non-
local knowledge and other assets is vital for new path emergence
(Isaksen and Trippl 2017).
2.2. Reconsidering weak structural preconditions for new regional
industrial path development
These three perspectives - ‘path as a process, regional diversica-
tion, and systemic perspectives - suggest that certain structural cong-
urations either enable or constrain new path development. Moreover,
they suggest that weakly developed or absent pre-existing structures are
unfavorable to the emergence of new industries. Against this backdrop,
work on innovation in the periphery often focuses on how innovative
activities (that might lead to new path development) occur despite the
absence of seemingly favorable preconditions (Shearmur 2012).
Accordingly, the few contributions explicitly dealing with new path
development in the periphery highlight how weak structural conditions
can be compensated for through the inow of external knowledge and
policy support (Isaksen and Trippl 2017) or through improvisation
strategies and compensation for missing technological relatedness
through other forms of relatedness (Carvalho and Vale 2018).
Recently, scholarly work has begun to question the neglect of ben-
ets in peripheral regions and highlight that these areas may offer
various advantages to innovative actors (Shearmur 2012, 2017; Mayer
and Baumgartner 2014; Grabher 2018; Eder and Trippl 2019). Such
potentials include, for instance, a protective space for experimentation,
high institutional leeway, soft factors, or cost incentives.
In a more generic vein, Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. (2020) argue
for a critical reassessment of structural preconditions in the context of
regional path development. Drawing on organizational institutionalism
(Hinings et al. 2017), the authors cast light on the degree of elaboration
and coherence of structural elements and their implications for
innovation-based industrial change. Preconditions are not seen as strong
In general terms, context can be dened as the wider settings (subject to
change) in which key objects and events are embedded (for example, in specic
regions, countries, time periods, etc.)(Gong and Hassink 2020, 2).
S. Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
or weak per se. Rather, the authors highlight that different structural
congurations (characterized by various degrees of elaboration and
coherence) offer both opportunities for and constraints to path devel-
opment. Accordingly, the absence of many relevant structural elements
(resembling ‘thinness, Zukauskaite et al. 2017), is indeed a constraint in
the sense that there is no platform from which to set alterations in
motion (Trippl et al. 2020). However, poor endowment of structural
elements might also be benecial for new industries, as it offers op-
portunities for experimentation and niche development that would be
hindered in places with more elaborated structures (Baumgartinger-
Seiringer et al. 2021a).
A well-known example is the rise of the Danish wind turbine industry
(Karnoe and Garud 2012) which emerged in the absence of many rele-
vant structural preconditions such as competencies, regulations or
markets. While this setting led to challenges (no market framework, no
political ‘plan, lack of interest and unsuitable materials), at the same
time it allowed for a somewhat improvised yet ultimately successful
‘bricolageapproach to new path development, enabling experimenta-
tion and distributed action (Garud and Karnoe 2003).
2.3. Bringing agency into play: Harnessing and valorizing potentials
Structural approaches are insufcient to fully elucidate new industry
emergence. Inspired by Garud and Karnoes (2001, 2003) seminal work,
structure-centered perspectives in EEG are to an increasing extent
complemented by approaches that highlight the importance of agency
in creating, recreating or altering paths (Boschma et al. 2017; Hassink
et al. 2019; Grillitsch and Sotarauta, 2020). Accordingly, for path
development to unfold, the opportunities and potentials inherent in
structural preconditions must be harnessed and valorized by actors
(MacKinnon et al. 2019; Trippl et al. 2020). This opens the debate on
path development ‘to another classic in social science, namely the interplay
between structure and agency(Grillitsch and Sotarauta 2018, 5).
Structures and agency are linked through complex interdependence:
agency will never be fully determined by structures, nor can agency ever
be completely free from them (Emirbayer and Mische 1998). This rela-
tionship has been explained through the inter-temporal nature of social
action (Emirbayer and Mische 1998): ‘agency is a process [] shaped by
historically developed structures and perceived futures (Grillitsch and
Sotarauta 2018, 8). In the context of regional economic change and new
path development, agency is often portrayed as a departure from the
past towards the future (Garud and Karnøe 2001). The more radical the
form of change, the more severe this break from the past must be.
Scholarly contributions on the role of agency in new path develop-
ment focus on certain actors or actor groups, or/and on different types of
agency based on the intention or outcome of purposive action (e.g.
Isaksen and Jacobsen 2017; Grillitsch and Sotarauta 2018; Sotarauta
et al. 2020). One core aspect of this work is to adopt a multi-actor
approach (Hassink, Isaksen, and Trippl 2019), drawing attention not
only to the role of innovative entrepreneurs and their ‘mindful devia-
tionfrom the past (Garud and Karnøe 2001), but also to various non-
rm actors (Karnøe and Garud 2012), such as universities, policy ac-
tors or support organizations (Dawley 2014).
To this end, Grillitsch and Sotarauta (2020) distinguish between
three different types of agency that drive regional path development.
First, they highlight the role of Schumpeterian entrepreneurship as a
shaping force for change. Schumpeterian entrepreneurship is capable of
breaking with existing industrial paths and working towards the reali-
zation of new ones. It is driven by belief in future opportunities, rather
than reliance on the past. As this paper will demonstrate, this can be of
critical importance to new path development in regions with no
apparent favorable preconditions. Second, Grillitsch and Sotarauta focus
on institutional entrepreneurship that aims at creating new or trans-
forming existing institutions (formal and informal ones) and organiza-
tions (such as economic, political, social and educational bodies). The
adaptation of these ‘rules of the gameand the wider innovation system
structures is often necessary for innovative entrepreneurship to succeed
(Musiolik et al. 2012). Third, they draw attention to place-based lead-
ership that completes the ‘trinity of change agency. This is mainly
concerned with mobilizing actors and coordinating their efforts. As
such, place-based leadership stimulates regional path development by
launching an interactive process that transcends boundaries, and by
guiding individual actors to both contribute to and benet from the
broader regional development process that reaches beyond individual
ambitions and interests (Grillitsch and Sotarauta, 2020).
3. Analytical framework
This section builds on the insights outlined above and proposes an
analytical framework to apprehend how seemingly weak (or absent)
structural preconditions can be translated into new path development.
To this end, we argue for (a) acknowledging the ‘bright sideof weak
structural preconditions, and (b) adopting a dynamic multi-actor
approach to the role of agency in such settings. It sets out an approach
to understand the ways actors work to construct and exploit opportunity
spaces, change institutions for new development paths and break from path
dependency(Grillitsch and Sotarauta 2020, 718) in contexts of weak or
absent preconditions.
3.1. Reconsidering weak preconditions
Drawing on systemic approaches to new path development, we
advocate a differentiated view of potentials residing within seemingly
unfavorable structural congurations, without neglecting constraints.
Established perspectives suggest that regions poorly endowed with as-
sets offer adverse conditions for new path development.
It is evident that the absence of structural preconditions can inhibit
industry emergence. However, such preconditions can also be enabling,
a possibility largely overlooked by established views. Localities with
weak pre-existing structures can offer freedom for change and a pro-
tected environment for niches (Grabher 2018; Eder and Trippl 2020),
thereby stimulating experimentation by pioneers (Garud and Karnøe
2001). They can also spur new activities as a survival mechanism for
local rms in search of competitive advantage (Shearmur 2012).
In contrast to well-endowed settings, where often as a consequence
of previous success (Martin 2010) structural congurations tend to
facilitate maintenance agency
, less-elaborated settings allow for more
change agency. Hence, pioneering actors might be attracted to (or
emerge from) these regions not despite, but because of, their weak
structural elements, which present opportunities to break free of rigid-
ities associated with a high structural elaboration
Seiringer et al. 2021a). Accordingly, in contrast to other work on new
path development in weakly developed settings (Isaksen and Trippl
2017; Carvalho and Vale 2018), we focus attention not only on how the
constraining environment can be overcome, but on how such places
especially in early phases of new path development - may offer potential
and enabling conditions.
Agency can be understood as actions or interventions by actors in order to
produce a particular effect(Sotarauta and Suvinen 2018, 90).
According to Jolly et al. (2020, 179), maintenance agency involves actions
such as introducing new practices to create deterrence for change, supporting the
persistence of existing institutional routines, and using narratives to support the
routinization of existing practices and adherence to rules.
Arguably, this factor is more relevant for ‘new-to-the-regionindustry
emergence, i.e. where the industrial path exists elsewhere (like the wine in-
dustry) in contrast to a ‘new-to-the-world type (Gustafsson et al. 2016).
S. Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
3.2. Dynamic multi-actor approach
To understand how potentials are utilized for new path development,
we focus upon agents and their actions to valorize and harness regional
opportunities (MacKinnon et al. 2019). Drawing on a multi-actor
approach (Hassink et al. 2019), we consider both innovative entrepre-
neurship and agency oriented towards modifying wider regional struc-
tures (Isaksen et al. 2019; Trippl et al. 2020; Grillitsch and Sotarauta,
We suggest that new path development unfolds in different stages,
ranging from initiation to consolidation, and that different types of
agency are of varying importance at each stage, often originating from
actors with different backgrounds (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
2021b; Jolly et al. 2020).
3.3. Turning weak structural preconditions into a new development path
over time
In light of these considerations, we distinguish two phases of new
path development in places with weak preconditions, an initiation and
a consolidation phase. In the former, the driving actors are a few
entrepreneurial pioneers - from either inside or outside the region - who
identify potential in a region despite objective constraints. They are
attracted, on the one hand, by high levels of freedom and leeway for the
creation of novelty. On the other hand, the very challenges posed by
such weak preconditions might serve as a stimulus and appeal to certain
With their risky and uncertain initiating and experimenting activities
(Garud and Karnoe 2003), these actors exploit the regions potentials
and, if successful, can lay early foundations for a new development path.
In this respect, Dewald and Truffer (2012) provide interesting insights
into how pioneers paved the way for a photovoltaic market in Germany:
through early activities such as marketing, educating, lobbying and so
on, local citizen groups across the country presented local proofs of
feasibility(Bergek et al. 2015, 58).
However, rarely are such isolated activities sufcient for an
emerging industry to grow and consolidate into a fully established path.
New path development requires distributed action to jointly modify (or
build) regional structures and ultimately create an environment for a
new industry to develop and prosper (Garud et al. 2010; Grillitsch and
Sotarauta, 2020).
Seeds planted by pioneers require resources to grow (Mi¨
orner and
Trippl 2017). While a low degree of structural elaboration provides
agility in early phases, it might hinder growth later on (Baumgartinger-
Seiringer et al. 2021a; Shearmur, 2017). Accordingly, we suggest that
after the initiating phase of early experimentation, institutional en-
trepreneurs and place-leaders need to create the wider regional
structures to institutionalize and consolidate initial path development
activities (Grillitsch and Sotarauta, 2020; Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
2021b). This may include agentic processes geared towards the devel-
opment of an industry-specic knowledge and skill base, of conditions
that enable individual actors to contribute and coordinate their efforts,
institutional change, market formation, establishment of organizational
support structures, and so on (Trippl et al. 2020).
Similar ideas have been suggested in work on windows of locational
opportunity (Storper and Walker 1989), which reasons that industry-
specic assets co-evolve with the new path and are created once de-
mand for them has emerged (Martin and Sunley 2006). In other words, a
conducive regional environment is seen not as a precondition for, but as
a result of, new path development. However, the concept says little
about how and by whom this change comes about (Boschma et al. 2017).
In contrast, this paper moves this collective process and its unfolding
centerstage. Moreover, by explaining new path development through
the interplay and co-evolution of structure and agency, our analytical
framework does not place as much emphasis on exogeneous perturba-
tions, chance events or historical accidents as triggers of change as
earlier accounts of industry emergence.
In sum, our approach draws attention to the often overlooked
enabling side of seemingly weak structural preconditions. We highlight
the need for a dynamic multi-actor approach to unravel industry
emergence, in particular in places with weakly elaborated structures.
We propose a two-stage process of new path development. In the former,
pioneers identify potential and initiate the formation of a new industrial
path. In the latter, institutional entrepreneurs and place-leaders (acting
both at the regional and at higher spatial levels) establish structures that
are necessary for the new industry to grow, thus enhancing the consol-
idation of the new path.
4. Methodology
To illustrate this framework, we describe the emergence of Southern
ebecs wine industry in two specic regions, the Eastern townships
and Mont´
egie. Our approach consists of a theoretically informed,
qualitative and historically-rich case study (Yin 1984; Eisenhardt 1989),
tracing the industrys evolution from the late 1970s to today. As Jolly
et al. (2020) argue, such a process-oriented investigation allows for a
deep understanding of the interlinkages between agency and structures
and to uncover processes of regional path development
Bearing this in mind, our research pieces together material from
diverse sources in order to tell the story of the wine industrys emer-
gence and evolution in Qu´
ebec. The approach rests on three pillars. First,
we draw on and present statistics from public sources that highlight the
dynamism of Quebecs wine industry. Second, an analysis of secondary
material provides important information. It also serves to contextualize
and triangulate other ndings. The secondary material was obtained
from three main sources: (i) documents and digital material published
through various channels, such as websites and press releases; (ii) doc-
uments and articles from other sources, such as Soci´
e des Alcools du
ebec (SAQ) and the Conseil des vins du Qu´
ebec; (iii) material pro-
vided by public authorities, primarily in the form of industrial reports.
Finally, our research rests on conversations, often informal, with key
actors (e.g. winemakers, support organizations, government, enthusi-
asts, regulators). These conversations (and interviews) have occurred
over the last decade, conducted by a co-author. They cover aspects of the
industrys birth and development, and have been revisited to shed light
on the broader question of path development. The information gathered
provides context and insight into the conditions under which wine-
making developed in Quebec, and informs our interpretation of the data
and secondary sources upon which our narrative rests.
5. The rise and evolution of Quebecs wine industry
To illustrate the crystallization of a new regional path, we rst
describe the current state of Qu´
ebecs wine industry. This is followed by
a discussion of Quebecs initial weak structural preconditions and con-
straints for new path development. We then focus on the industrys
emergence from a structure-agency perspective and distinguish two
phases: rst, an initiation phase, driven by a few foolhardy pioneers;
then, a consolidation phase, characterized by institutional entrepre-
neurship and rst signs of place-leadership enabling further develop-
ment of the industry.
5.1. Quebecs wine industry today
Today, Quebec hosts a small but growing and innovative wine sector.
With 148 commercial wineries and a production threshold of 4.25
million nine-liter equivalent cases in 2019, the Quebec industry remains
S. Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
a marginal player in Canadian and global markets. In 2016, Quebec
accounted for less than 15 % of Canadian wine revenues
, but over the
last 30 years the number of production permits has steadily increased
(Fig. 1). Production is dominated by independent family-owned win-
eries and by small companies that mainly sell their products on local
domestic markets.
The industry produces a range of varietals, in particular hybrids such
as Vidal, Frontenac, Seyval Blanc, Mar´
echal Foch and Sainte-Croix; but
over the last decade changing climatic conditions (Jones 2012) have
allowed wine makers to gradually introduce better-known and more
marketable Vitis vinifera varieties such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet
Franc, and Chardonnay.
Since its emergence, Qu´
ebecs wine industry has shifted from a
marginal agri-food to a dynamic, relatively knowledge-intensive, in-
dustrial path (Doloreux and Frigon 2019). It is characterized by
consistent quality improvement, which is mainly based on on-site
experimentation and learning, as winter-hardy grape varieties require
high levels of know-how and tacit knowledge. For instance, wineries
have invested in geotextile or hoses heated by geothermal energy to
extend the growing season and protect plants from intense winter cold.
Accordingly, Quebecs harsh preconditions stimulated quite specic
innovation activities.
However, the rise of Quebecs wine industry is not only a story of
innovative pioneers but also one of actors who lobbied for and estab-
lished support organizations, altered institutions and coordinated ef-
forts, thereby enabling the industrys development. Nowadays,
viniculture in Quebec is embedded in facilitating structures that stand in
stark contrast to the initial situation in which early path development
activities took place, including suitable regulations, market conditions
and distributional channels as well as supportive public bodies and in-
dustry associations.
Hence, the industrys current viability is a consequence of Schum-
peterian and institutional entrepreneurship, as well as some place-based
leadership (mainly undertaken at higher spatial scales). These have been
specic to the industry, but have also emerged in wider agri-food and
tourism activities (Doloreux and Frigon 2019; Phillips 2017).
5.2. Initial conditions
Quebecs wineries are an example of emerging cool climate wine
industries (Jones 2019), part of the ‘New-New-World (Chen and
Kingsbury 2019). This ‘New-New-World (including, for example, the
UK and Nordic countries) contrasts with the New-World (Li et al. 2018;
Giuliani et al. 2011): whereas the latter comprises places where there
existed appropriate climatic and soil conditions for wine growing
(though no wine-making tradition), the former possess neither the tra-
ditions nor, in most cases, appropriate natural conditions.
As such, Quebec differs considerably from most European regions
which have been settled for a long time and where new (wine) paths,
even if they are unrelated to previous economic activities, often take
root in better dened cultural contexts. The Eastern townships tradi-
tionally Abenaki territory - were essentially unsettled (by colonial set-
tlers) until the early 19th century. Their principal industries have been
agriculture, forestry and in a few urban centres textiles.
Hence, in the early 1980s neither deep-seated traditions nor pre-
existing knowledge or support structures would have suggested the
development of a new wine path in Quebec (Doloreux and Frigon 2019).
What is more, winters are cold and long and the growing season short.
Even though climate change has recently brought about more favorable
conditions for viticulture (Jones 2019), these changes only began to
have decisive inuence after the wine industrys entrepreneurial
ebec did not only lack suitable natural conditions and historically
inherited knowledge bases: formal institutional framework conditions
were hardly enabling either (see below). And yet, in spite of these cir-
cumstances, the past forty years have witnessed the emergence and
development of winemaking. This can only be understood through a
change in perspective and a reconsideration of regional structural con-
ditions. This change in perspective rests fundamentally on the normative
dimension inherent in assessing structural conditions: ‘unfavourable
conditions are unfavourable according to certain criteria applied by
certain actors. Other actors e.g., in Qu´
ebec, some adventurous anti-
establishment French entrepreneurs may take a different view and
apply different criteria.
Thus, structural conditions cannot be considered enabling or con-
straining per se (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. 2021a). While in
ebec in the early 1980s - preconditions for winemaking would have
been considered weak by most industry specialists, they motivated and
enabled certain actors. Over the years, these pioneers navigated cli-
matic, knowledge and institutional constraints, exploiting the potential
they perceived. Others followed and consolidated new path development.
Structural conditions can only be evaluated against the backdrop of the
dynamic interdependence between structure and agency.
In the next section, we show how multiple actors turned these
(apparently) weak structural preconditions into a new development
5.3. Initiation stage: Turning weak preconditions into a wine path
5.3.1. Cowboys and pioneers (19801985): forward-looking entrepreneurs
Wine making was virtually unheard of in Quebec until the provinces
rst commercial winery, Le Domaine des Cˆ
otes dArdoise, opened in
1980 in Dunham. It was created by Christian Barthomeuf who migrated
from Cantal (France). Its rst bottles were produced illegally in 1983,
there being no licensing process for the production or sale of artisanal
wine. The second commercial winery, Domaine de lOrpailleur, was
opened in 1982 by Charles-Henri de Coussergues and Herv´
e Durant,
both from winemaking families in the Roussillon (France). With Bar-
thomeufs help, they bought a 20-hectare dairy farm and began (ille-
gally) making and selling wine in 1985. These people were the pioneers
of Qu´
ebec viticulture, and have been described as bull-headed (van
Praet, 2014). According to Barthomeuf (2020) himself, to enter the in-
dustry one needed to be crazy and determined.
These modest beginnings are critical, initiating the process of new
path development (Fig. 2). They beg the question of why individuals
would consider settling and starting production in a region so seemingly
unfavorable. There are two reasons for this, both reecting the bright
sideof weak regional structural preconditions.
First, as discussed above, the downside of tradition can be the stiing
of innovation and entrepreneurship: many French people migrate to
ebec because they chafe against Frances strict hierarchy and regu-
lated social and economic contexts (Roudaut, 2009)
. Qu´
ebec espe-
cially in the early 1980s beckoned to some French-speakers just as the
rest of North-America did to Anglophone and other immigrants. In 1974,
Barthomeuf, who has proven to be a serial entrepreneur, escaped France
to spend a sabbatical year in Quebec: he never left Quebec. The fact that
he produced his rst wines illegally speaks to this pioneering maybe
even cowboy mentality and energy.
The second motivation that propelled these pioneers is the challenge:
the apparent impossibility of producing a commercially viable winery
(let alone a wine industry) in Qu´
ebec served as a spur. During our
conversations with them they described how growing grapes in Quebec
was a constant battle against harsh climate conditions: however, this
Canadas wine industry is small by international standards. In 2018, it
produces about 0.3% of world output (Wine Growers Canada 2019).
ebec is in fact a highly regulated society. However, in its rural areas there
is still a sense of independence and freedom from constraint that does not exist
in larger cities.
S. Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
battle forced them to be creative, innovative and resilient. Arguably, had
the challenge been less acute, these particular pioneers may not have
been so motivated.
5.3.2. The sheriffs: rst regulatory and institutional changes (19852000)
Further to the industrys illegal beginnings, the rst artisanal wine
production permits were issued in 1985. In this early phase, wineries in
Quebec were vineyard[s] of the extreme(Velasco-Graciet and Lasserre
2006), not only because of the climate but because of the legal and
administrative hurdles erected by the province and the Soci´
e des
Alcools du Qu´
ebec (SAQ) the public monopoly responsible for
distributing and selling alcohol products.
The administrative restrictions of the mid-1980s are such that it is
almost unbelievable, notwithstanding the pioneers, that winemaking
developed in the province. Indeed, these conditions were so restrictive
they seem designed to stie rather than regulate the industry. The
principal restrictions were (Le Domaine des Cˆ
otes dArdoise, 2020):
(1) in addition to the different taxes (sales tax, excise tax and duty),
winemakers had to a pay an additional 30% sales tax to the SAQ;
(2) sales were limited to the vineyard only;
(3) wine tasting was prohibited (unless the vineyard had a liquor
(4) wine tasting was also prohibited in agricultural and wine exhi-
bitions and fairs;
(5) the purchase of grapes from other winegrowers was not allowed;
(6) prohibition to deliver products and to sell to restaurants;
(7) prohibition to use common terms such as ‘Domaine, ‘Clos,
‘primeurto describe the vineyard or the wine itself; and,
(8) prohibition on selling to the SAQ (the provincial alcohol mo-
nopoly), even in cases where equivalent foreign wines would be
purchased (for example even internationally prize-winning Qu´
wines were excluded from the SAQ).
In discussion, winemakers have pointed out to us that these re-
strictions were obviously ‘out of date, reecting early twentieth century
prohibition. According to them, these (unjustied) restrictions created
Fig. 1. Artisanal wine production permits in Quebec, 19852019. Source: R´
egie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, multiple years.
Fig. 2. The emergence and evolution of Qu´
ebecs wine industry. Source: Authors.
S. Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
obstacles and barriers directly hampering development of the industry.
Arguably, these restrictions had been left in place because no-one
actually envisaged making wine in Qu´
ebec. After the early 1980s this
continued to change: 1985 to 2000 is characterized by a slow increase in
the number of wine-making permits (Fig. 1). Still, by 2000, there were
only 39 commercial wineries - of which 13 returned their permit due to
low volume and high production costs. On the one hand, this reects the
constraints that still prevailed. On the other hand, it shows that a
(growing) number of pioneers stubbornly believed in the regions
The major obstacle to expansion of Quebecs vineyards was the dif-
culty of selling products and the absence of market-oriented mecha-
nisms to support sales. An inexion-point in the industrys development
was the introduction of new sales regulations. In 1996, the government
allowed wine producers to sell their products to restaurants, bars, hotels,
and at public markets and agricultural fairs. Winemakers could use the
terms ‘Domaine, ‘Clos, and ‘Cˆ
otes, etc. (important for marketing
purposes) and were no longer required to produce all grapes used in
their wines, though at least 50% still needed to be sourced from the
vineyard. The same year the SAQ signed its rst distribution contract
with le Domaine de lOrpailleur. These changes occurred in part due to
persistent lobbying by the of Association des Vignerons du Qu´
(AVC, Qu´
ebec WinemakersAssociation).
The winemakers we have spoken to have pointed out the importance
of these changes. In the beginning, they were forced to sell their pro-
duction on the property only. Furthermore, they had very limited access
to the restaurant market. And for years, they fought to gain access to
These changes to formal institutions mark the humble beginnings of
a phase of increased system-building which gradually turned the unfa-
vorable environment into a more enabling one, creating the broader
system-level structures necessary to institutionalize and consolidate
activity. The period corresponds to the establishment of new institutions
and support organizations enhancing the industrys development and
promotional activities. Since 2000, Quebecs wine industry has
expanded considerably (Fig. 1). However, until the end of the 1990s it is
difcult to qualify these changes as institutional entrepreneurship:
rather institutions and provincial regulators reluctantly adapted to the
fait accompli of local winemaking.
5.4. Consolidation stage: 2000 to today
5.4.1. The development of markets for Qu´
ebec wines
In addition to regulatory factors, it is useful to consider the structure
of demand for wine: since about 2010 there has been a sharp increase in
wine consumption, and growing interest in domestic products. Quebec is
the largest wine-importing province in Canada: in 2015, consumers
spent $2.3 billion on retail wine, representing 43 % of total alcoholic
beverage spending (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service 2017). Between
2000 and 2018 Quebecs wine consumption consisted predominantly of
imported wines, with modest but fast growing volumes of domestic
(Table 1).
Reacting to these changes, and in response to further lobbying, new
strategies were implemented by the SAQ to promote local wine. For
instance, in 2005, the SAQ introduced a Quebec wine section in its stores
and increased the variety of domestic products sold. By 2020, the SAQ
sold 119 different Quebec wines, and Quebecs wine industry has
expanded, with a threefold increase from 39 commercial wineries in
2000 to 148 in 2019 (Fig. 1).
It is not only production and sales outlets that have evolved since
2000. In 2013, the government, in collaboration with the SAQ, intro-
duced a commercialization program for Quebec wines. With an
investment of $4.3 million over three years, new measures include
nancial aid to increase both productivity and quality, and improved
product visibility in SAQ stores. In 2016, the government introduced Bill
88. This law allows the distribution of Quebec wine via groceries and
convenience stores, and has encouraged new distribution channels such
as wine boutiques, gourmet food stores and online shops.
These regulations boosted annual wine production in Quebec, which
rose from 1 million bottles (in 2013) to 2.3 million (in 2019) (CVQ
2020). Although total sales of wine have plateaued in Qu´
ebec since
about 2013 (after increasing rapidly over the preceding fourteen years,
especially for Canadian products, see Table 1) the proportion of Qu´
produce has steadily increased over recent years (Morissette, 2021).
5.4.2. Institutional change and the development of support organizations
Since the late 1990s the organizational and institutional context
which at rst inhibited the development of Qu´
ebecs wine industry has
adapted. In the 1990s this adaptation was slow and almost reluctant, but
over the last twenty years there has been more evidence of institutional
entrepreneurship at the provincial level. Whilst the institutional envi-
ronment has become supportive, it remains underdeveloped.
Most institutions are provincial: constitutionally, the regulation of
alcohol sales, wine production and agriculture come under provincial
jurisdiction: the Federal (Canadian) government plays virtually no role.
In this context, three forms of support organizations have emerged:
public bodies, industrial associations, and research organizations.
The wine industry in Quebec is strongly regulated, with two orga-
nizations playing pivotal roles, the SAQ and the R´
egie des alcools, des
courses et des jeux (RACJ). While the SAQ is responsible for sales and
distribution of alcohol in Qu´
ebec, the RACJ fashions the underlying
regulatory environment for alcohol production and sale. The RACJ
grants licenses for the manufacture and distribution of alcoholic bev-
erages, for artisanal wine and beer production, and for the warehousing
of these beverages. At rst, these organizations discouraged local wine
production, only gradually recognizing its potential under pressure from
pioneering winemakers (and, more recently consumers).
In addition to the SAQ and RACJ, other government departments
assist in the regulation and promotion of wine, as well as protecting
producer interests. The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Food (MAPAQ) operates programs focusing on agriculture and food
production. It supports artisanal wine producers, promotes Qu´
wine, played an important role in securing a designation for Qu´
wines, and has carried out exploratory research to support the industry.
At the Federal level, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) provides
similar support and nances projects related to the agri-food sector, a
small portion of which benets the wine industry.
The Conseils des Appellations R´
ees et des Termes Valorisants
(CARTV) was set up in 2006 by the Government of Qu´
ebec as an inde-
pendent organization to develop and maintain the recognition, certica-
tion, inspection and information systems that allow groups of agri-food
enterprises to use a designation for products distinguished by their origin or
quality as well as to ensure the integrity of these products in order to gain the
condence of those who consume them(CARTV 2020). The CARTV
accredited, in 2008, the designation ‘Vin Certi´
e du Qu´
ebec (Qu´
Certied Wine) which certies wines origin and specicity. In 2010,
CARTV recognized Ecocert Canada, allowing it to certify wines ac-
cording to the AVQ certication manual which species traceability and
sustainable practices. This has evolved into Indication G´
ee (IGP) pour les vins du Qu´
ebec (Protected Geographical
Designation for Quebec wine).
Over the years the industry itself has contributed to build favorable
institutional structures and has demonstrated rst signs of successful
place-based leadership. For instance, it has generated its own collective
interest organizations on the provincial level, such as the Conseil des
Vins du Qu´
ebec (CVQ) and Association des Vignerons Ind´
ependants du
ebec (VIQ). The CVQ was created in 1987 by the pioneers. It is a
bottom-up initiative reecting the need for operational and strategic
It was not possible to disaggregate the data for Canadian products at the
level of Quebec.
S. Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
interaction and coordination within the wine industry, founded and
funded by its members: the CVQ mobilizes resources, know-how and
lobbying on issues related to marketing, vintner prosperity, scientic
development and knowledge sharing. Hence, the CVQ also plays a
prominent role in efforts of institutional entrepreneurship.
For instance, the CVQ has been instrumental in pushing for the
ebec Certied Wines label, it published a forward-looking report
‘Plan de d´
eveloppement 2010-2020that provided a foundation for the
recent development of Quebecs wine industry, and it lobbied for and
promoted the ‘Protected Geographical Indication designation. In 2020,
the association comprises overs 80 members, including 60 winegrowers
and 20 inter-professional members.
The VIQ, created in 2006, comprises independent winemakers, and
promotes the exchange of information and knowledge related to the
industry and wine production. This association is part of the Vintners
Quality Alliance network established in Ontario and British-Columbia
and the Conf´
eration Europ´
eenne des Vignerons Ind´
ependants which
covers 11 countries.
In contrast to wine-growing regions in Ontario and British Columbia,
Quebecs wineries are not yet supported by a network of public and
private research organizations: the adaptation of broader regional
structures is still an ongoing process. With only $0.5 million invested in
2017 in education and public R&D, the Quebec wine industry has
limited resources for improving crops and product quality, or to test new
vine varieties and growing practices (Rimerman and Eyler 2017).
However, some research is conducted under the auspices of broader
agricultural and agri-food activities, such as the Centre de recherche
Agricole de Mirabel (CRAM), a non-prot organization that provides
research and technology transfer services in horticulture and agri-food.
There has been some effort to bolster the research base: the Centre de
erence en Agriculture et Agroalimentaire du Qu´
ebec (CRAAQ) has set up
a network of advisory services mandated to promote wine-related
research, innovation and knowledge transfer - the Comit´
e Vigne et Vin.
There is also some research collaboration between the CRAM, MAPAQ
and CVQ, for example research on cold-climate grape varieties and
growing techniques (CRAM 2020). Overall, though, R&D is conducted
on a piecemeal basis within organizations that have far broader man-
dates, by winemakers themselves in a somewhat ad-hoc manner or by
relying on external knowledge sources and partners.
6. Discussion
In this paper we suggest a framework that conceptualizes path
development ex nihilo, i.e. in regions that present few if any branching
opportunities, that are organizationally and institutionally thin, and that
present no particular natural advantages.
Such were the preconditions for winemaking in Quebec in the 1980
s. Yet, this article has shown that regional paths can emerge in such
conditions because conditions cannot be evaluated whilst abstracting
from the agents who act within and upon them. Whilst many rational
agents (and analysts) would view Qu´
ebecs initial conditions as inaus-
picious, clearly some agents perceived them as advantageous.
The potential that drives these agents is not necessarily linked to
rational economic calculation, though it might be: for example, such
regions may be low-cost, may allow for experimentation away from
stiing institutions, or may present ideal conditions for very specic
innovations. Yet, agentsperception of advantage can also be linked to
the challenges posed by such conditions. Initiating activities in these
regions can stimulate innovation merely as a way to nd solutions.
Apparently unfavorable conditions may also allow certain actors to
apply their knowledge (such as the traditional winemaking know-how of
the Roussillon) in new and exciting contexts.
The Qu´
ebec wine industry is a good example of this. There was no
apparent reason, in the early 1980s, for anyone to produce wine in
ebec: France and Spain were overproducing, and New-world wines
from countries with better viticulture conditions such as Argentina,
Chile, and Australia were gaining widespread acceptance.
Why, therefore, attempt to start a wine industry in Qu´
ebec, where
making and bottling wine was illegal, where winters are brutal, and
where the growing season is short? The industry was started by two
mavericks from France, who were excited by the challenge and eager to
leave behind the old world. Had conditions been more auspicious it is
possible that they would have sought challenges elsewhere (Barthomeuf
These winemakers did not merely initiate the practice of making
wine commercially. They quickly became involved in challenging
existing laws and institutions. As other winemakers gradually followed
their example, lobbies and collective-interest organizations were
formed, winegrowers pushed for change, and consumers began to show
an interest in local produce (despite its initial expense and poor quality
relative to imports).
From about the mid-1990s, institutional change had gained mo-
mentum, and organizations such as the SAQ began taking the initiative,
becoming a cumbersome - yet essentially constructive - partner in the
continued development and maturation of the industry and the wider
innovation system. Many more winemakers were attracted to the ac-
tivity, which today plays a small but important role in regional tourism
and whose products are available across Qu´
ebec, in grocery stores,
restaurants and the SAQ (Morissette, 2021). Winemakers increasingly
devote funds to product, process and marketing innovation, and it is fair
to say that a minor but established, legitimized, and dynamic industrial
path - embedded in a supportive environment - now exists in Southern
Table 1
Sales of alcoholic beverages of liquor authorities, Quebec 20002020 (actual $).
2000 (000 s) 2005 (000 s) 2010 (000 s) 2013 (000 s) 2020 (000 s) Change 000 s 200020 Growth % 200020 *
Total Wine Total products 916,046 1,397,759 2,104,821 2,417,939 2,503,824 1,587,778 118.5
Canadian products 150,250 175,016 455,338 509,004 480, 832 330,582 150.4
Import products 765,796 1,222,743 1,649,484 1,908,934 2,022,122 1,256,326 112.1
Change 000 s 200013 Growth % 200013 *
Red wines Total products 508,290 946,223 1,441,292 1,580,389 n/a 1,072,099 162.6
Canadian products 62,671 92,267 304,685 326,661 n/a 263,990 324.7
Import products 445,619 853,956 1,136,607 1,253,727 n/a 808,108 139.8
White wines Total products 334,720 365,010 502,473 655,897 n/a 622,425 74.0
Canadian products 78,712 76,623 124,437 150,610 n/a 71,898 70.4
Import products 256,008 288,387 378,037 505,287 n/a 249,279 75.1
Sparkling Total products 73,036 86,526 161,056 181,653 n/a 108,617 114.6
Canadian products 8,867 6,126 26,216 31,733 n/a 22,866 198.8
Import products 64,169 80,400 134,840 149,920 n/a 85,751 103.9
Source: For 2000 to 2013, Table 1010-003001 Sales of alcoholic beverages of liquor authorities, wineries and breweries, by value and volume, scal years ended
March 31 (x 1,000). For 2020, Table 1010-001101. Source: Statistics Canada.
* Growth rates are adjusted for changes in the Canadian price Index (CPI). From January 2000 to January 2013, the CPI increased from 93.5 to 121.3, and to January
2020 it increased to 136.8.
S. Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al.
Geoforum 128 (2022) 115–124
However, it is important to note that of the trinity of agents of change
posited by Grillitsch and Sorarauta (2020), only two are present:
Schumpeterian entrepreneurs and institutional entrepreneurship. The
third, place-based leadership, is lacking regionally. Efforts are observ-
able at higher spatial scales though. Most notably, collective interest
organizations at the provincial level (such as the CVQ and VIQ) have
been created that play a pivotal role in mobilizing and coordinating
actors. Whilst it is well established that exogenous inuences can affect
regional path development (Trippl et al., 2018), these insights suggest
an interesting avenue for future research concerning the multi-scalarity
of agency: (to what extent) can different types of agency substitute for
each other at different scales? How do regional (local) and non-regional
(non-local) agency interact in the course of path development? While we
believe there is considerable merit in following these questions, they are
beyond the scope of this article.
7. Conclusion
Over recent years, a rich body of EEG literature has led to better
understanding of how new industries emerge in space (Martin 2010;
Boschma 2017). Lately, a more comprehensive perspective which
combines EEG insights with the RIS approach has been developed
(Isaksen and Trippl 2016; Trippl et al. 2020). These contributions
emphasize regional structural preconditions, understood as the outcome
of previous rounds of regional economic development, reecting the
history of a locality (Martin 2010). In doing so, these perspectives from
different conceptual lenses articulate relatively clear ideas of which
preconditions enable or constrain new path development.
This paper challenges established views on how regional structural
preconditions affect industry emergence, paying particular attention to
weakly elaborated structures. Our contribution is twofold. First, we
show that structural preconditions offer complex, multifaceted condi-
tions for nascent industries, always encompassing opportunities and
constraints (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. 2021a). The rise of the wine
industry in Quebec demonstrates that weakly developed preconditions
do not only pose barriers to new path development; they also offer po-
tential. This understanding of the impact of structures is inseparably
linked to the role of agency (Grillitsch and Soraurata, 2020). Herein lies
our second contribution. We uncover how preconditions are recognized
and transformed into a new path through agentic processes. In line with
other work, we argue that industry emergence cannot be comprehen-
sively understood without considering the role of agency (Simmie, 2012;
Boschma et al. 2017). It is the agents that make sense of structural
conditions; they identify, harness and valorize opportunities and over-
come constraints (MacKinnon et al. 2019).
Agents act on the basis of motivation: Quebecs maverick pioneers
had clear, but essentially non-economic, reasons for choosing Qu´
linked to culture (the French language), absence of wine-making tradi-
tion, and challenging conditions for wine growing. Their arrival and their
actions brought about alterations necessary for a new path to emerge
and prosper.
We propose two main stages of new path development: an initiation
and a consolidation stage (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. 2021b). As we
have shown, in the early stage pioneering actions aimed at exploiting
regional potential prevail, while in the later stage institutional entre-
preneurship and place-leadership geared toward path consolidation
become important. This is particularly the case in settings with weakly
developed structural conditions, where the development of organiza-
tional and institutional support structures is pivotal to turn the seeds
planted by pioneers into fully established paths. These insights are
crucial for a more thorough understanding of new path development.
Our conceptual framework, which posits co-evolution of, and inter-
dependence between, structure and agency, calls for a reassessment of
methodologies that are often used when new path development is
analyzed. There has been considerable reliance on network analysis,
patent data, and other quantitative approaches (Boschma et al 2017):
these are good at identifying structures and knowledge bases, and also
answer Markusens (1999) call for more rigorous hypothesis testing.
However, qualitative approaches can also provide valuable information.
No amount of network analysis, data gathering or dissection of pre-
existing structures can explain the emergence of todays wine industry
in Qu´
ebec, whereas our qualitative and process-oriented case-study
(Jolly et al. 2020), which pays attention to structure, agency, and their
co-evolution, can unravel it.
Finally, the proposed framework bridges the gap between the
emergence of individual innovators in unpromising regions and the
wider question of regional development. Shearmur (2017) has pointed
out that innovation in a region does not necessarily lead to regional
development (nor to the emergence of a localized industry): the case
described in this paper is an example of a (not quite complete) bridge
between the two.
Our study explores a single case and examines an industry in a
particular context. It illustrates our conceptual framework. More in-
vestigations of new industry emergence and evolution in inauspicious
regional settings will be necessary to better understand how seemingly
weak conditions can nurture new industrial growth paths.
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Simon Baumgartinger-Seiringer: Conceptualization, Writing
original draft, Writing review & editing, Supervision. David Dolor-
eux: Conceptualization, Methodology, Investigation, Resources, Writing
original draft, Writing review & editing, Visualization. Richard
Shearmur: Conceptualization, Methodology, Resources, Writing
original draft, Writing review & editing. Michaela Trippl: Concep-
tualization, Writing original draft, Writing review & editing.
Declaration of Competing Interest
The authors declare that they have no known competing nancial
interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to inuence
the work reported in this paper.
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... Such potentials include, for example, short distance to specific natural resources or a specific climate, a protective space for experimentation, high institutional leeway, soft factors (high quality of life, a laid-back natural environment, local traditions and a certain image of rural areas which can be beneficial for the marketing of products, etc.) and cost incentives. When the differences across innovation types and stages are taken into account, it becomes clearer that some innovation process can work better in the periphery than the centre (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. 2022, Eder & Tripple 2019, Gluckler et al. 2022, Shearmur 2015. Peripherality can provide advantages to certain typologies of innovation that require slowness, radical departure from prevailing (urban) norms or resources (such as space, specific fauna, testing grounds, local culture) (Grabher 2018). ...
... Of course, while some villages will remain unsuitable, capacity can be built in others. Weak structural conditions can be compensated for by the inflow of external knowledge and policy support (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. 2022) One way to incorporate villages across the developmental spectrum is by assessing readiness levels. Readiness level scales are widely used to describe the relative maturity of an innovation and enable comparison across considerable diversity. ...
Technical Report
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The European Commission’s long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas identifies several areas of action towards stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous rural areas and communities by 2040. A flagship action on research and innovation aims to help tackle the challenges towards fulfilling rural potential. An annual Startup Village Forum is part of this action. The Forum intends to promote knowledge exchange and cooperation activities and to work as an open and inclusive space where institutions and stakeholders can meet, discuss and shape actions for startup-driven innovation in rural areas. Drawing upon the scientific literature, in this report we develop the Startup Village concept and define it as "A place (or a network of small places) that embraces innovation and ambitious entrepreneurship as a way to unlock development potential and support wellbeing in rural areas". Next, we explore the key enabling factors of Startup Villages- discussing in particular the pivotal role played by the ecosystem in enabling innovation and entrepreneurship - and outline the Startup Village Forum’s facilitating role.eur
... Les études sur les dynamiques territoriales en lien avec de nouvelles industries au sein des régions périphériques sont peu nombreuses (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al., 2022;Li et al., 2019). Deux raisons expliquent cette carence. ...
... Les limites de l'EGE proviennent de sa difficulté à expliquer les conditions sous-jacentes aux nouvelles industries qui émergent presque ex nihilo dans les régions où les conditions préalables sont peu développées ou absentes (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al., 2022). À cet effet, les travaux en EGE ne portent que très peu sur le développement de nouvelles industries en régions périphériques. ...
Collaborative innovation spaces (CIS) can bring together multiple actors to enhance creativity, collaboration and knowledge exchange, sometimes leading to innovation. In this paper, we suggest that CIS can be categorized into three broad types (internal to the firm, external and virtual) and that each type is related to innovation processes, knowledge‐sourcing and geographic context in specific ways. Our results, based on an original firm‐level survey, reveal that there is heterogeneity with respect to firm attributes and innovation activities associated with different types of CIS. In particular, whilst innovation is associated with the use of CIS in general, radical and technological innovations are more strongly associated with internal CIS, whereas smaller firms tend to use virtual CIS. External CIS, whilst not associated with technological innovation, are associated with high‐tech firms. CIS use does not vary across geographic context. These results emphasize the importance of in‐person, internal, CIS for radical and technological innovation and the need to distinguish between different types of CIS in order to understand how each is associated with different types of innovation, knowledge‐sourcing and firm.
... Les études sur les dynamiques territoriales en lien avec de nouvelles industries au sein des régions périphériques sont peu nombreuses (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al., 2022;Li et al., 2019). Deux raisons expliquent cette carence. ...
... Les limites de l'EGE proviennent de sa difficulté à expliquer les conditions sous-jacentes aux nouvelles industries qui émergent presque ex nihilo dans les régions où les conditions préalables sont peu développées ou absentes (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al., 2022). À cet effet, les travaux en EGE ne portent que très peu sur le développement de nouvelles industries en régions périphériques. ...
Cet article porte sur le développement d'une nouvelle industrie, à savoir l'industrie brassicole dans la région périphérique de l'Est‐du‐Québec. Son objectif consiste à comprendre et décrire les principales activités des microbrasseries pour déceler leur apport au développement des régions de l'Est‐du‐Québec, à savoir le Bas‐Saint‐Laurent et Gaspésie–Îles‐de‐la‐Madeleine. Les résultats de notre analyse permettent d'apporter des enseignements nouveaux sur la contribution de cette industrie au développement de ces deux régions. This article focuses on the development of a new industry, namely the brewing industry, in the peripheral region of Southeastern Quebec. Its objective is to understand and describe the main activities of the microbreweries and to detect their contribution to the development of Southeastern Quebec, namely the Lower‐Saint‐Lawrence and the Gaspé peninsula‐Magdelen islands regions. The results of our analysis allow us to shed new light on the contribution of this industry to the development of these two regions. Cet article étudie le développement de l'industrie microbrassicole dans la région périphérique de l'Est‐du‐Québec. Les microbrasseries de cette région ont émergé selon des processus identitaires et sociaux forts et un attachement à l'environnement local. Les microbrasseurs répondent à des motivations qui sont à la fois économiques mais aussi la quête d'un style de vie, l'attachement à la région, et le désir de faire développer leur communauté. Cet article étudie le développement de l'industrie microbrassicole dans la région périphérique de l'Est‐du‐Québec. Les microbrasseries de cette région ont émergé selon des processus identitaires et sociaux forts et un attachement à l'environnement local. Les microbrasseurs répondent à des motivations qui sont à la fois économiques mais aussi la quête d'un style de vie, l'attachement à la région, et le désir de faire développer leur communauté.
... While established perspectives would probably have difficulties explaining such a phenomenon, a conceptual framework drawing on key ideas proposed in this dissertation could do so. The article (Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al., 2022), first, builds on a reconsideration of structural conditions beyond the conventional wisdom. However, as outlined above, structural conditions alone are insufficient to explain the how, where, why and when paths develop in regions. ...
... Accordingly, when it comes to the selection process in smart specialisation, a more fine-grained understanding of potentials for and constraints to industrial change entailed in structural conditions might help to make more informed decisions. This is not to say that one should move back to 'anything goes anywhere' or 'one size fits all' (Tödtling & Trippl, 2005) kinds of approaches based on the conviction that there is all-encompassing potential everywhere, but insights from this thesis might help to find more appreciation for the complexity of structural implications and, in particular, for strengths in structures that are commonly perceived as weak (see also the case of the rise of the wine industry in Quebec, Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al., 2022). ...
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Since the ‘evolutionary turn’, much attention in Economic Geography has been devoted to the evolution of regional economies and industries. While earlier work focused on path dependence, inertia and lock-ins, the past decade has seen a shift of attention to the analysis of ‘new regional industrial path development’, that is, the emergence of new sectors and innovation-based renewal processes of mature industries. Over the recent years, scholars have developed an impressive body of work consisting of both, narrow and more comprehensive perspectives on the topic. However, reflecting a broader interest into how novelty is created, much of this literature is preoccupied with the rise of entirely new industrial paths, leaving transformation processes in existing paths under-studied. This thesis contrasts the recent trend and investigates, both conceptually and empirically, radical innovation-based changes in well-established industries (referred here to as ‘path transformations’). To this end, it utilises and further contributes to a burgeoning literature that has enriched Evolutionary Economic Geography with the Regional Innovation Systems (RIS) approach. This body of work essentially highlights that the capacity of regions to generate processes of new path development is determined by a wide set of regional factors and elements, their enabling and constraining influence and how they interact and work in concert. Informed by this systemic understanding of regional industrial change, this cumulative thesis unravels path transformations by identifying and casting light on four fundamental dimensions through four different research articles: (i) the structures that condition path transformation, (ii) the actors who drive it, (iii) the iterative process between structures and agency underlying it and, finally, (iv) the outcomes of this process. This dissertation projects contributes to the debate by identifying and addressing research gaps in the extant literature associated with each of these key dimensions. First, the thesis argues that it is necessary to move beyond simplistic conceptualisations of influences of (i) regional structural conditions. Arguably, many established perspectives portray structures as either per se enabling or constraining for certain forms of industrial development, thereby neglecting the greyscales. Inspired by complementary literature in Institutional Theory, this dissertation develops a conceptual lens that appreciates the nuances and distinct positive and negative dimensions inherited in different regional structural configurations. Second, this thesis argues for reconsidering (ii) the circle of relevant actors and types of agency in path transformations. In particular, it casts light on an actor group that has received very limited attention in the recent debate on new path development: powerful incumbent firms. Drawing on insights from Management and Transition Studies, it is shown how they steer the direction and pace of path transformation through their engagement that both can be oriented towards either change or maintenance. Third, this dissertation unravels (iii) the iterative process between structures and agency underlying path transformations. The extant literature tells us little about how this process unfolds. This thesis offers a dynamic perspective, develops a stage model and shows how path transformation requires not only initiation but also acceleration and consolidation. Fourth, this thesis explores (iv) the outcome of path transformation processes. It explicitly incorporates development outcomes in the wider RIS accompanying successful processes of path transformation. In doing so, it contrasts how this process has ultimately resulted in the upgrading of a regional industrial system in one spatiotemporal context, and to the reorientation in another. Hence, the thesis investigates where – based on varying structural preconditions, different types of agency and underlying mechanisms – path transformations might lead. Empirically, this cumulative dissertation explores path transformation processes in different mature automotive regions in Austria, Sweden and Canada. The four research articles offer different angles and perspectives on current transformations towards more digitalised and sustainable regional industries. Thereby, this thesis seeks to deepen our understanding of the ways in which these changes take place and why they differ across different automotive regions based on a qualitative research design. All in all, this cumulative dissertation contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of how, where, why and when path transformations unfold, offering nuanced perspectives on the structures, actors, the process itself and its outcome. Based on these insights, the thesis finally elucidates possible avenues for future research and the design and implementation of regional innovation policy, such as smart specialisation.
... Isaksen et al. (2019, p. 49) present these transformation modes as a continuum from "continuation (path extension) through to change and novelty (path creation) in the industrial development in a region." Path creation, whilst it can emerge from within a sector or region (Baumgartinger-Seringer et al., 2022), is an ambitious-and maybe unrealizable-policy objective: policies may only be able to accompany new path creation ex post, whilst being better suited to envisage and actively support path extension and inflection ex ante. ...
Since the late 1980s, there has been no explicit regional policy in Canada. Indirectly, though, equalization payments, industrial policies, as well as regional agencies encouraging the adoption of federal industrial and innovation policies, impact regional economies. In 2017, the federal government appeared to alter its approach: the Supercluster initiative was announced, drawing upon the idea that localized networks of interrelated firms can generate innovation and local development. In this paper, we discuss the mechanisms through which spatially focused industrial innovation policy can lead to regional development. We then focus on Canada's Ocean Supercluster initiative. The question we address is as follows: to what extent can this initiative (and, more widely, Canada's Supercluster policy) be understood as a regional development strategy driven by a coherent rationale for regional intervention? Apart from the fact that each Supercluster focuses on a pre‐existing core of firms located within a region, there is little evidence that the Supercluster initiative has regional development objectives or impacts. In 2018, Canada's federal government implemented the Supercluster policy. Five regionally focussed clusters were selected for support for business‐led innovation initiatives. Superclusters were presented as a means both to develop regional economies and to enhance Canada's global innovation impact, in a manner similar to Europe's smart specialization. Despite the initial regional dimension, Superclusters are geared towards national, not regional, objectives and do not focus upon regional development processes. In 2018, Canada's federal government implemented the Supercluster policy. Five regionally focussed clusters were selected for support for business‐led innovation initiatives. Superclusters were presented as a means both to develop regional economies and to enhance Canada's global innovation impact, in a manner similar to Europe's smart specialization. Despite the initial regional dimension, Superclusters are geared towards national, not regional, objectives and do not focus upon regional development processes. Depuis la fin des années 1980, il n'y a plus de politique régionale explicite au Canada. Par contre, de façon indirecte, la péréquation, les politiques industrielles, ainsi que les agences de développement régional qui encouragent l'adoption des politiques industrielles et d'innovation fédérales, ont un impact sur l'économie des diverses régions. En 2017, le gouvernement fédéral semble avoir changé son approche: la politique des « supergrappes » a alors été annoncée, construite autour de l'idée que des réseaux localisées d'entreprises interconnectées peuvent générer de l'innovation et du développement local. Dans cet article, nous passons en revue les mécanismes que permettent aux politiques territorialisées d'innovation de promouvoir le développement régional. Nous nous tournons ensuite vers la supergrappe océanique canadienne. La question qui nous motive est la suivante: dans quelle mesure cette initiative (et, de façon plus générale, la politique des supergrappes) peut‐elle être appréhendée comme une stratégie de développement régional guidée par une logique cohérente d'intervention régionalisée? Mis à part le fait que chaque supergrappe cible une concentration préexistante d'entreprises localisée dans chaque région, les objectifs de développement ou d'impact régionaux n'y sont pas mis en évidence.
... To build the conceptual framework, I employ the RIS approach to analyze how regional preconditions tend to affect the outcome of asset modification at national and international scales. Comparing the RIS of a peripheral with a core region stimulating two intertwined cases of early path development in the food sector, I contribute empirical material of a rather under-researched topic in EEG (recent exceptions are Martin and Martin 2021;Baumgartinger-Seiringer et al. 2022). The results emphasize that regional preconditions play a meaningful role in complex multi-scalar governance mechanisms. ...
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Regional restructuring in the context of societal dynamics involves the development of several, possibly interacting regional industrial paths. Conceptualizations in evolutionary economic geography and innovation studies analyze the effects of relating regional industrial paths in the same regional or national context. While policy makers at EU, national and regional scales support research and development of transformative activities in different regions across countries, scholarly contributions on interpath relations across regions and the role of regional preconditions to enable paths in shaping them are scarce. This article combines recent conceptualizations of interpath relations within regions with considerations about the multi-scalarity of asset availability and modification to conceptualize interpath relations across regions. A framework is developed to explain how reinforcing or impeding effects of interpath relations across regions are related to regional preconditions. Empirically, transformative food sector innovations initiated to tackle societal challenges are investigated as an under-researched topic in the path development literature. Two case studies in a peripheral and a core region provide exemplified results about regional differences in supporting asset modification at multiple scales and demonstrate reinforcing or impeding effects for path development resulting from interpath relations across regions. The article offers policy recommendations and presents avenues for further research.
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This article develops a more comprehensive understanding of innovation-based renewal of industries from a structural perspective. Arguably, established perspectives offer rather simplistic views, portraying structures as either enabling or constraining for certain forms of regional industrial change. Inspired by work in organizational institutionalism on ‘institutional infrastructures’, this article focuses on the degree of elaboration and coherence as decisive features of regional structural conditions. Arguably, this conceptual lens allows for a better understanding of the potentials and limitations for industrial change entailed in different structural configurations. Empirically, we investigate renewal processes in traditional automotive regions in Austria and Sweden.
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Drawing upon critical realism and the literature on theorising in social sciences, this article contributes to the understanding of theorising in economic geography by highlighting the role of context throughout the theory development process. By critically reviewing two key concepts in economic geography—related variety and knowledge bases—from a critical realist theory development perspective, scholars’ sensitivity to local context through the whole theorising process is examined. We argue that the particular strength of economic geography with regard to advancing theory lies in the continuous application of concepts and theories (that is, generalities) within new contexts (that is, confrontation with new particularities).
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The rapidly expanding stream of path development studies recognises that translating observations from past paths to conscious path creation requires conceptually linking agency to path development frameworks. Actors frame issues about and for the future, coordinate their actions in the present and make sense of what may have transpired in the past. The main objective of the paper is to explore the roles that actors play in green path development by answering the following main research questions: (a) Who are the core actors in green path development in the Nordic regions, ie. in industrial development around products, solutions or technologies that make regional economies more sustainable? (b) What are their main roles in relation to other actors? (c) What are the differences and similarities between the regions in terms of agency? The paper explores whether similar actors take on different roles in different regions and whether different actors may assume similar roles. For the empirical analysis, we identified seven roles in change agency. The empirical results showed that institutional entrepreneurship was the core of change agency in conjunction with innovative entrepreneurship and place-based leadership. The other four roles supported path development efforts. The results also show that institutional entrepreneurship is not a solo activity but a collective form of agency and that well-functioning shared institutional entrepreneurship may have a chance to change institutions for green path development.
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The recent debate on innovation-based structural change in Evolutionary Economic Geography is characterised by a strong focus on the rise of new industrial paths. This paper seeks to shift attention and cast light on radical innovation activities occurring within existing paths without necessarily leading to their dissolution. Departing from a systemic perspective of path development we propose a stage model of path transformation. We outline how radical change becomes initiated, reinforced and finally consolidated in established industrial paths. Particular attention is devoted to the ways in which actors – influenced by ‘the past’ and driven by visions and expectations (that is, ‘the future’) – exert agency to stimulate asset modification processes that are assumed to underpin path transformation and the reconfiguration of the wider support structures. The framework is applied to the analysis of the automotive industry in West Sweden, which is currently transforming towards the development of self-driving cars.
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Despite significant interest in regional industrial restructuring in economic geography, surprisingly, scarce attention has been paid to the changing role of agency over time. The current paper develops a framework for understanding the role of multiple types of actors and the agency they exercise for regional industrial path development. The framework is employed in a longitudinal study of industry development in Värmland, Sweden, from forestry towards a bio-economy. The analysis highlights how actors exercise very different types of agency in different periods of regional industrial path development.
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Recent research has challenged the urban bias in economic geography and innovation studies, showing that highly innovative and competitive firms are also located in peripheral regions. So far, however, analyses has focused on how firms innovate despite their unfavourable location and little has been said about the innovation benefits of peripheral areas. Hence, this article identifies different compensation and exploitation strategies adopted by firms in order to overcome regional innovation constraints and to reap innovation benefits found in the periphery. Drawing on 20 in‐depth qualitative interviews with innovative firms situated in the Austrian periphery, our analysis reveals that innovation in peripheral regions is the outcome of a combination of compensation and exploitation practices. The uptake and composition of these strategies depend on the firm and regional characteristics, with firm size being the most influential factor.
Regions across the world are searching for ways to fashion new green growth paths and to promote green shifts in mature industries. The article aims to explore conceptually and based on illustrative empirical examples from the literature how green restructuring unfolds in regions. We propose a framework that explicates how regional preconditions in form of pre-existing industrial structures, organisational support structures, institutional set-ups and natural assets are transformed into various types of green path development through agentic processes of asset modification.
Drawing on multi-year fieldwork in two wine regions in two emerging wine producing counties, namely Erlin in Taiwan and the Kofu Basin in Japan, this paper discusses key institutional arrangements contributing the development processes of wine sector in the New-New World. Unlike existing studies on the catch-up experiences of wine industries in the New World with emphases on the capability-enhancing mechanisms embedded in the state- or MNC-initiated trans-local networks, this paper finds that the development of Taiwanese and Japanese wine sectors in these two regions has been driven mainly by local actors' active exploration of competence residing in their regional networks. This article employs the Triple Helix (TH) and Innovation systems (IS) as principal frameworks to narrow the research focus on the industry-government-university interaction, and examine the development process and nature of critical institutions supporting the interactive learning and collaboration among the TH actors. Through studying the cases of Taiwanese and Japanese wine industries, this paper goes beyond stating “institutions matter” as in existing IS and TH literature, by illuminating on how to develop institutions to allow actors' interaction to occur and be boosted especially when their local TH are still in the early phase of formation.
Recent climatic changes to warmer conditions, in both winter and summer, are creating more amenable conditions for growing vitis vinifera grapes in southern Quebec, an area considered to be a cool climate wine region. Gradual increases in growing season length, growing and dormant season temperatures, both maximum and minimum, are creating a general amelioration in wine grape growing conditions here. Although these recent increases in temperatures, as has been documented in southern Quebec, are well established, results from precipitation investigations are lacking. Both the intensity and magnitude of precipitation events require analysis. The present study uses non-parametric time series to analyze changes in growing season and September total precipitation, and changes in precipitation intensity during the September ripening period. This mid-latitude climatic zone has historically seen relatively high precipitation amounts. The results from this study indicate that in the southern Quebec wine grape growing regions little change has occurred in both the total amount of precipitation received and the intensity of that precipitation over the 35-year study period. Wet growing season and ripening period conditions continue to present a challenge for growers in this region.
The study of regional growth paths is a key theme in economic geography and of elemental interest for regional development. This paper addresses the interplay between path-dependent, structural forces and the construction and utilization of opportunities through agentic processes. Extending the evolutionary framework , it is argued that not only history but also perceived futures influence agentic processes in the present and thus shape regional development paths. The paper discusses the relevance and interdependencies of three types of agency with distinct theoretical roots, namely Schumpeterian innovative entrepreneurship, institutional entrepreneurship and place-based leadership, as main drivers of regional structural change.