Innovation Agency and Institutional Powers: The Case of Norwegian Salmon Farming

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Arcade Courtyard (Main Building)
Finn ORSTAVIK, USN, Norway
The discourse on innovation has gradually expanded its scope to cover important questions regarding sustainable development and the future of modern societies. Innovation involves the emergence of novelty, specifically in the form of sticky changes in institutionalized modes of value creation (Orstavik, Dainty and Abbott, 2015). Factors shaping the innovative profile and the innovation performance of society cannot be seen as relevant exclusively for business, since innovation significantly influences society as a whole. The relationship between innovation and society (or the innovation system of a society) is reflexive. Innovation leads to re-institutionalization in an evolutionary process that shapes society, including the future forms and shapes of innovation. An example of this is the practice of farming Atlantic salmon in Norway that started out at the same time as the petroleum activities in the North Sea commenced. The business of domesticizing Atlantic salmon was pioneered in local communities in entrepreneurial efforts financed locally, based on revenues from traditional fisheries. By exploring the agency, power, status, and organizational arrangements of the local communities, and relating this to the broader institutional and industrial context, it is seen that fish farming was a successful, locally embedded innovation. This innovation, however, was emerging in what on a national level became a highly contested institutional field. By highlighting how interactions played out between local entrepreneurs and other industrial and institutional stakeholders over five decades, it is demonstrated that fish farming became an innovation that encompassed significant re-institutionalization. In this process, the context for industrial innovation changed as did the prospects for the future of a locally controlled fish farming industry. What started out as local industry and inclusive innovation, ended up as a multinational process industry with centralized ownership, and served by a nationally embedded institutional innovation system.