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Green Industrial Restructuring International Case Studies and Theoretical Interpretations

Structural change in basic industries is ususally interpreted as an autonomous economic process. Some authors claim that there is a tendency towards the end of the era of materials, resulting in a decline of basic industries. Such a process would obviously benefit the environment. Classic economic theories, which deal with structural change in a rather aggregate way, are roughly in line with this, predicting either a shift towards manufacturing and services or a delocation of old basic industries to developing countries. Starting from this dematerialization hypothesis, for the first time, comparative case studies analyse in detail the driving forces of industrial restructuring of different industries and countries in Europe where such a decline has been observed at least temporarily. The results seriously question the above mentioned interpretations: there are few general patterns of structural change in basic industries and no automatism of environmental benefits emerges. New theoretical approaches interpret these results and emphasise the specific role of firms, networks and technologies to explain industrial restructuring processes. Hence, structural change can only be effectively analysed as an interplay between economic and political factors. Thus, the book also clarifies preconditions which any ecological industrial policy aiming at environmental benefits of structural change have to take into account.