Regions as Selection Environments? The Emergence of the Solar Industry in Germany from 1992 to 2008
The spatial evolution of the German solar industry is analysed in the light of the “window of locational opportunity” and the “selection environment” approach. The paper argues that differences in the regions' ability to promote the emergence of local external economies contribute to increasing regional differentiation in the German structure of the industry. Applied empirical methods enclose longitudinal firm entry and network analysis. A special focus is given upon the realignment processes in the science system. Our findings show a relatively rapid spatial concentration of production in eastern Germany since the year 2000. This process is accompanied by intensified networking between firms and between firms and universities as well as research institutes. The responsiveness of regional institutions and the self-organizing capabilities of the solar firms substantiate some propositions of the “selection environment” approach.