Creating and Protecting paths. Learning in an entrepreneurial state
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionEnterprise & Society. 2021. 10.1017/eso.2021.54
This paper discusses how a Norwegian entrepreneurial state has performed over more than seventy years, based on an analysis of state involvement in Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk/the Kongsberg Group from 1945 and to 2015. Mariana Mazzucato has argued that bold technological investments by the state has long-term beneficial effects. The development of the Kongsberg companies adds nuance to this picture. On the one hand, the defense company Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk failed as a company in 1987 and was unbundled into a number of new companies independent of one another. On the other hand, some of the successor companies have been very successful, both in the oil and gas sector and within defense. Taking the defense and oil and gas company the Kongsberg Group as a case, this paper argues that a new style of entrepreneurial state developed in the 1990s and that it proved very successful. The old entrepreneurial state was heavy-handed, bold, and very long-term in its aims; the new entrepreneurial state was cautious, many-headed, and worked through the management of the company. The new entrepreneurial state combined state ownership, stock listing, and procurement considerations and was supported by both the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Defense. This new governance structure facilitated a stable corporation that over time integrated other Norwegian maritime electronics companies, which themselves had a checkered history under the old entrepreneurial state. A new corporate governance regime emerged and managed both to protect old and established product lines and to facilitate innovation both in defense and maritime electronics.