Assistant Professor

Nora Geirsdotter Bækkelund

Field of work

Research on the role of different types of agency in place development and industry development in rural places. In-depth qualitative research on three cases of rural tourism development in Western Norway: Flåm, Odda and Sogndal. 

Masters in human geography.


Evolutionary economic geography has become a largely structure-centred field. The role of agency, in creating both continuity and change, has remained largely neglected. This project aims to improve our understanding of the role of agency in industry creation and development. Thee aspects of the role of agency are being investigated:

  •          The changing roles of agency in the course of local industry evolution.

  •       Who the change agents are and how they operate.

  •       How different actors negotiate the direction of the sector.

Three cases of industry development in the tourism sector are being studied: Mass tourism in Flåm, rapidly growing hiking tourism in Odda, and niche tourism in Sogndal. The tourism sector lends itself to understanding the role of agency in industry development for two reasons. First, it is a fragmented sector consisting of a large amount of variegated actors who are forced to interact. This lays their actions relatively open for observation. Second, the sector strongly impacts local communities, with both positive and negative consequences. Thus, actors beyond industry are likely to get involved, and so it is possible to investigate the way they operate and their scope for action. The three cases are also interesting in their own right, shedding light on development strategies for rural areas, success-factors and pitfalls, as well as the different logics that co-exist in the travel industries.

Research areas
  • Agency in industry development
  • Rural tourism
  • Place development
  • Sustainable economic development