The Norwegian economy is facing significant challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. In this project, we will analyse how companies, industries, and regions handle these challenges. We will reveal both how companies and industries adapt during the crisis, how policy can foster new adaptations, and what type of strategies companies choose in the longer term when the situation with a global pandemic hopefully is over. A fundamental question for our analyses will be to what extent companies and industries return to the 'old' normal after the crisis or whether they use the crisis to develop more robust strategies and adaptations. Here we are particularly concerned with how companies balance economic efficiency, environmentally friendly solutions, and socially inclusive industrial practices. For example, do companies combine the need for developing product and process innovations that are cost-effective with the broader demand for green innovations and solutions that reduce companies' carbon footprint? Will there be more emphasis on securing jobs and the company's long-term future, or do they prioritize generating profits for their owners in the short term? And finally, what new opportunities does the increasing digitalization of society provide?
The project will conduct studies of both industries and regions and combine different data sets (qualitative and quantitative). The focus will be on resource-based industries (e.g., seafood, maritime sector, and renewable energy), and we will uncover different development trajectories in different industries. The project will also map and analyse variations in adaptability between urban regions, with a differentiated industry structure, and rural areas where the industry structure often are more specialized. Finally, we will make in-depth analyses of the importance of policy and discuss which type of policy efforts that are most effective in supporting the companies during the crisis
The proposed project investigates the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on industrial development patterns and industrial policy in Norwegian regions. When considering the economic consequences of this crisis on Norwegian businesses, the strategic, long-term question remains whether to bounce back to the ‘old normal’, i.e. to a situation we had before the outbreak of the Corona crisis, or to use this crisis as a departure point towards a ‘new normal’. To answer this , the project maps and explains the ability of regions, industries and firms not just to bounce back (adaptation) but also their potential to bounce forward (adaptability) towards new, more sustainable development paths in terms of economically robust, environmentally friendly and socially inclusive industrial activities. Theoretically, the research builds on and adds to evolutionary economic geography to understand the uneven distribution of firm-level and regional capabilities and combines this with insights from socio-technical transition studies to understand the agentic role of firms’ innovation strategies and public policies in driving new path development. Methodologically the analysis combines large scale quantitative data on determinants of regional resilience and in-depth qualitative case studies of the uneven impacts and responses to crisis across industries and regions. The research will provide analytical tools and policy-relevant insights how sustainable and digital industry restructuring unfolds in different ways across different types of regions. Given its strategic importance for the Norwegian economy the project emphasis resource-based industries (seafood/aquaculture, maritime, offshore renewable energy technologies and bioenergy/biomaterials). Through a focus on policy experimentation we also contribute with insights for policy-making on how to shape industry and innovation policies that balance an expedient recovery with sustainable restructuring across Norwegian industries and regions.