The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography
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The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography

Edited by Ron Boschma and Ron Martin

This wide-ranging Handbook is the first major compilation of the theoretical and empirical research that is forging the new and exciting paradigm of evolutionary economic geography.
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Chapter 20: On the Notion of Co-evolution in Economic Geography

Eike W. Schamp


Eike W. Schamp Economic geography has recently seen various ‘turns’ in its way of thinking, adapting and absorbing approaches that have been developed in related disciplines. Evolutionary economics is a case in point that seems to increasingly influence empirical work in economic geography, although the ‘evolutionary turn’ is still considered ‘embryonic’ (Martin and Sunley, 2006, p. 396). This state of affairs calls for further reflection on the way in which the ‘original’ meaning of a concept in another discipline can be adapted to the perspectives of economic geography. As the prefix implies, co-evolution always occurs in association with evolution. While a serious debate on the concept of evolutionary economic geography (Boschma and Frenken, 2006) has already begun, its apparent ‘alter ego’, co-evolution, needs to be examined more closely as a concept in economic geography. This chapter attempts to shed some light on the possible significance of introducing co-evolution into economic geographical thought. Using an analytical rather than a systemic approach, it argues in favour of a very specific interpretation of co-evolution. In a word, in this chapter co-evolution is not seen as a phenomenon that generally accompanies the evolution of something else but as one that applies to a special case. If co-evolution is therefore to be understood as a type of alter ego, it is helpful to begin with a brief reflection about evolution and its interweaving with co-evolution. Broadly speaking, there are two different perspectives on evolution; that is, the neoSchumpeterian perspective which looks at the emergence of...

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