This study focuses on the petroleum related development in the middle and northern parts of Norway, specifically Kristiansund, Sandnessjøen and Harstad. The study draws upon theoretical perspectives from both economic and political science in order to construct a thorough analysis of the development process.
The focus of this research is the uneven development in Kristiansund, Sandnessjøen and Harstad. These places are located around the Norwegian Sea and have battled to attract the functions related to the activities on the continental shelf north of 62 degrees North. Despite this competition, the petroleum related development in Kristiansund has been massive compared to the development in the two other locations; why?
This study shows that a central element in explaining the uneven development is path dependence and increasing returns mechanisms present in processes both at the micro and macro level. These analyses are based on the theoretical perspective of, amongst others, Brian W. Arthur and Paul Pierson related to the mechanisms of increasing returns processes in economic and political science.
The analysis shows that a central factor in understanding the petroleum related development in Norway is to see the processes at the micro and macro level as interrelated and not isolated phenomena. The micro level mechanisms inspired by the economic perspective of Arthur are important elements in the increasing returns processes at the micro level in each of the different cases. But in order to give a full analysis of the petroleum sector in Norway one must include the macro level processes where both local and central governmental actors play important roles. The analysis shows that elements such as multiple equilibria, contingency, timing and sequencing, and inertia have all played important roles in the uneven petroleum related development processes present in the middle and northern part of Norway. Still, as this study clearly shows, political alliances at the central level combined with political skill at the local level have been decisive for the outcome of the development processes.