The Relational Geography of Post-Staples Development—a Case in Malå, north Sweden

Alexandre Dubois, Dean Bradley Carson


Mitigating the cycles of ‘boom and bust’ associated with natural resource led economic development in northern peripheries requires economic diversification through post-extractive ‘mature staples’ or ‘post-staples’ activities. The dominant thinking is that resource peripheries are subject to processes of exogenous development, with limited capacity for local agency—endogenous development. This paper argues that it is possible to achieve neoendogenous development that mobilises local resources and incorporates extra-local factors. The paper examines the case of Malå Geoscience, a small ground penetrating radar company based in a very small community in northern Sweden which has nonetheless achieved global niche positioning through innovation and product diversification. By using the ARTE framework—agglomeration, regionalisation, translocalisation, Europeanisation— the paper demonstrates how the company was able to pursue new development paths even as the local mining sector was closing down. There is a particular emphasis on how the maintenance of local and regional knowledge and supply networks enabled the company to remain locally based but globally relevant.

Keywords: northern development; resource peripheries; post-staples economies; small manufacturing; niche market; neoendogenous development

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.