Connecting to Global Production Networks: Challenges for Regional Actors in Northern Norway


  • Trond Nilsen Northern Research Institute Norway
  • Stig Karlstad Northern Research Institute Norway


Over the past few years, Northern Norway has been perceived as a land of opportunity. Announcements of offshore oil and gas discoveries off the coast of Finnmark have contributed to increased market activity in related sectors like service and construction. However, regional firms continue to score at the bottom of innovation indexes and seldom compete on international markets. Based on indepth interviews with representatives from key businesses in three sectors in Northern Norway, we examine the bottlenecks that have prevented these firms from gaining new market positions through the interplay of these regional firms and agencies with the Global Production Network (GPN). We adopt the concept of ‘‘strategic coupling’’ and explore whether an actor approach can contribute to an improved understanding of this relationship. The paper demonstrates that regional strategies and public policy differ between the sectors. Public policy is important for regional firms within the petroleum sector. However, the funds available for regional firms continue to be limited due to the size and relevance of the measures. In the construction sector, public policy instruments are important, but not sufficiently adapted to the challenges these firms face. While the petroleum sector receives support and backing from regional agencies in order to connect to GPN, the wind power sector is actively hindered by the same agencies. The former have the opportunity to take part in new regional path creation; the latter have experienced a lack of strategic cooperation and face the risk of reducing strategic couplings to GPN, leading to path dependent processes that lock these firms into traditional and low-tech sectors.

(Published: May 2016)

Citation: T. Nilsen and S. Karlstad. “Connecting to Global Production Networks: Challenges for Regional Actors in Northern Norway.” Arctic Review on Law and Politics, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2016, pp. 42–59.

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Author Biographies

Trond Nilsen, Northern Research Institute Norway

Ph.D., Senior Researcher Scientist

Stig Karlstad, Northern Research Institute Norway




How to Cite

Nilsen, T., & Karlstad, S. (2016). Connecting to Global Production Networks: Challenges for Regional Actors in Northern Norway. Arctic Review on Law and Politics, 7(1).



Original Articles


path renewal, business development, path dependency, strategic couplings, public instruments