Framing industrialization of the offshore wind value chain – A discourse approach to an event

Asbjorn Karlsen (2018)

Geoforum 88, pp. 148-156

Abstract. The paper explores value chain governance through a discourse approach to an event which included an exhibition and a conference. This approach appears promising for investigating industries in their formative phase and is particularly relevant for new renewable energy sectors. By studying the European offshore wind value chain, the paper investigates the coupling between wind industries and offshore industries as an encounter of various conventions. The key speakers at the conference, particularly those from the utility companies, introduced new principles for organizing the value chains they are leading, in order to reduce costs, and turn the immature sector into a mature one. Their storyline of industrialization by standardization breaks, however, with the storyline demonstrated by the firms in offshore oil and gas, and maritime industries at the exhibition. The latter offshore suppliers find evidence of quality in their business history and their trust-based relations to their clients. Theoretically the paper contributes to the global value chain governance debate by offering another perspective on power. The discourse approach helps us explain how influential actors could enforce one convention over another. The paper contributes methodically by suggesting a discourse approach to events. Events appear as a significant arena for negotiating industry formation and convenient for researcher’s data gathering for text analysis.

Link to the review