Transforming Economies: The Case of the Norwegian Electricity Market Reform
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The topic of this thesis is the shaping of modern economies, represented by a case-study of the Norwegian electricity market reform process. The essential questions raised are: “Why are industries and economies organized the way they are?” and “Why and how do they occasionally experience fairly radical transformations during which we come to see their organizational structures and associated behaviors in entirely different ways?” To answer these questions, the author has followed a radical “market-making” economic reform process through its many projects, processes and rivalries, from its roots in specific historical controversies through its major breakthrough and into a stabilized new economic system. A major argument through out the analysis is that economics as a scientific activity and -community plays a particularly important role in the re-shaping of economic systems. Large scale economic reforms are found to be dependent upon scientific and political powers and legitimacy which results from broad consensus within the relevant scientific communities. In order to make his point, the author presents and discusses various historical economic reform initiatives both within the Norwegian electricity sector, within other sectors of the economy and in other countries. He also presents elements of a broad process of reorientation within economics during the 1970s and follows these new conceptions up to the electricity market reform process in the late 1980s. The analysis tries to explain why Norway became a hotbed for market reform of the technically integrated and institutionally complex and locked-in electricity system, but also tries to extract medium range insights about economic reform processes and to discuss more general implications for other large scale economic reform projects as well as for economic theories about economic change - through a rethinking of some of the basics in economic thought.
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