Skip to main content Accessibility help

Creative Alaska: creative capital and economic development opportunities in Alaska

  • Andrey N. Petrov (a1) and Philip A. Cavin (a1)

The flaws of the 20th century–type development ‘mega–projects’ in the circumpolar North prompt Arctic regions actively to search for alternative strategies of regional development that break away from resource–dependency and reconcile local (traditional) societies with the realities of post–Fordism and globalisation. This paper presents a study that focuses on the notion of creative capital (CC) and assesses its ability to foster economic development in Alaska. The findings suggest that some characteristics of the CC observed in Alaskan communities are similar to those found in southern regions, whereas others are distinct (but similar to those in the Canadian North). In Alaska, the synergy between cultural economy, entrepreneurship and leadership appear to be more important in characterising creative capacities than formal education. The geographical distribution of the CC is uneven and heavily clustered in economically, geographically and politically privileged northern urban centres. However, some remote regions also demonstrate considerable levels of creative potential, in particular associated with the aboriginal cultural capital (artists, crafters, etc.). A number of Alaskan regions, creative ‘hot spots’, could become places that can benefit from alternative strategies of regional development based on CC, knowledge–based and cultural economies.

Hide All
Aarsæther, N. (editor). 2004. Innovations in the Nordic Periphery. Stockholm: Nordregio.
Agranat, G. A. 1992. Vozmozhnisti i Real'nosti Osvoeniya Severa: Global'nye uroki [Possibilities and realities of development of the north: global lessons]. Moscow: VNIITI.
Alaska Division of Economic Development. 2012. Regional economic development strategies. URL: (accessed 3 May 2012)
Barnes, T.J., and Hayter, R.. 1992. The little town that could: flexible accumulation and community change in Chamainus, British Columbia. Regional Studies 26: 647663.
Bassanini, A. P., and Dosi, G.. 2001. When and how chance and human can twist the arms of Clio. In: Garud, R., and Karnoe, P. (editors). Path Creation and Path Dependency. Mahwah, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum: 4168.
Bathelt, H., and Glückler, J.. 2003. Toward a relational economic geography. Journal of Economic Geography 3 (2): 117144.
Bathelt, H., and Boggs, J.. 2005. Continuities, ruptures, and re–building of regional development path: Leipzig's metamorphosis. In: Fuchs, G., and Shapira, P. (editors). Rethinking regional innovation and change. Path dependency or regional breakthrough? New York: Springer.
Bathelt, H., Feldman, M.P., and Kogler, D.F.. 2011. Beyond territory: dynamic geographies of knowledge creation, diffusion, and innovation. New York: Routledge.
Bone, R.M. 2009. The geography of the Canadian north: issues and challenges. 2nd ed.Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Boschma, R.A., and Fritsch, M.. 2009. Creative class and regional growth: empirical evidence from seven European countries. Economic Geography 85 (4): 391423.
Clark, P., Tracey, P., and Lawton Smith, H.. 2001. Agents, endowments, and path–dependence: a model of multi–jurisdictional regional development. Geographische Zeitschrift 89: 166181.
Copus, A., and Skuras, D.. 2006. Accessibility, innovative milleux and the innovative activity of businesses in the EU peripheral and lagging areas. In: Vaz, T.N., Morgan, E.J., and Nijkamp, P. (editors). The new European rurality: strategies for small firms. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Desrochers, P. 2001. Local diversity, human creativity, and technological innovation. Growth and Change 32: 369394.
DiFrancesco, R.J. 2000. A diamond in the rough? An examination of the issues surrounding the development of the Northwest Territories. The Canadian Geographer 44 (2): 114135.
Doloreux, D. 2003. Regional innovation systems in the periphery: the case of the Beauce in Quebec (Canada). International Journal of Innovation Management 7 (1): 6794.
Doloreux, D., and Parto, S.. 2005. Regional innovation systems: current discourse and unresolved issues. Technology in Society 27 (2): 133153.
Feldman, M.P. 2000. Location and innovation: the new economic geography of innovation, spillovers and agglomeration. In: Clark, G., Feldman, M., Gertler, M., and Williams, K.. (editors). The Oxford handbook of economic geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 351370.
Florida, R. 2002. The economic geography of talent. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 94 (2): 743755.
Florida, R. 2005. Cities and the creative class. New York: Routledge.
Gertler, M.S. 2005. Tacit knowledge, path dependency and local trajectories of growth. In: Fuchs, G., and Shapira, P. (editors). Rethinking regional innovation and change. Path dependency or regional breakthrough? New York: Springer: 2241.
Gertler, M.S., Florida, R., Gates, G., and Vinodrai, T.. 2002. Competing on creativity: placing Ontario's cities in the North American context. Toronto: Institute of Competitiveness and Prosperity and the Ontario Ministry of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation.
Gibson–Graham, J.K. 2005. Surplus possibilities: postdevelopment and community economies. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 26 (1): 426.
Glaeser, E. 2004. Review of Richard Florida's The rise of the creative class. Regional Science and Urban Economics 53 (5): 593596 URL: (accessed 3 May 2012).
Glassman, J. 2011. Critical geography iii: critical development geography. Progress in Human Geography 35 (5): 705711.
Goldsmith, O.S. 2008. Structural analysis of the Alaska economy: what are the drivers? Anchorage, Alaska: University of Alaska Anchorage, Institute of Social and Economic Research.
Grabher, G. 1993. The weakness of strong ties: the lock–in of regional development in the Ruhr Area. In: Grabher, G. (editor). The embedded firm: on the socio–economics of industrial networks. London: Routledge: 255277.
Hall, H., and Donald, B.. 2009. Innovation and creativity on the periphery: challenges and opportunities in northern Ontario. Toronto: Martin Prosperity Institute (Ontario in the Creative Age Working Paper Series).
Hayter, R., Barnes, T., and Grass, E.. 1994. Single industry towns and local development: three coastal British Columbia forest product communities. Thunder Bay, ON: Lakehead University, Centre for Northern Studies (Research report 34).
Hayter, R., Barnes, T.J., and Bradshaw, M.J.. 2003. Relocating resource peripheries in the core of economic geography's theorizing: rationale and agenda. Area 35 (1): 1523.
Huskey, L. 2005. Challenges to economic development: dimensions of ‘remoteness’ in the north. Polar Geography 29 (2): 119.
Huskey, L. 2006. Limits to growth: remote regions, remote institutions. The Annals of Regional Science 40 (1): 147155.
Innis, H. 1956. The fur trade in Canada: an introduction to Canadian economic history. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Jauhiainen, J.S., and Suorsaa, K.. 2008. Triple helix in the periphery: the case of Multipolis in northern Finland. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 1 (2): 285301.
Lagendijk, A., and Lorentzen, A.. 2007. Proximity, knowledge and innovation in peripheral regions. On the intersection between geographical and organizational proximity. European Planning Studies 15 (4): 457466.
Lundvall, B.A. (editor). 1992. National systems of innovation: towards a theory of innovation and interactive learning. London: Pinter.
Markusen, A. 2006. Urban development and the politics of a creative class: evidence from a study of artists. Environment and Planning 38 (10): 19211940.
McGranahan, D., and Wojan, T.. 2007. Recasting the creative class to examine growth processes in rural and urban counties. Regional Studies 41 (2): 197216.
O'Hagan, S., and Cecil, B.. 2007. A macro level approach to examine Canada's primary industry towns in a knowledge economy. Journal of Rural and Community Development 2: 1843.
Peck, J. 2005. Struggling with the creative class. International Journal of Urban and Rural Research 29 (4): 740770.
Petrov, A. 2007. A look beyond metropolis: exploring creative class in the Canadian periphery. Canadian Journal of Regional Science 30 (3): 359386.
Petrov, A. 2008. A talent in the cold? Creative class and the future of the Canadian north. Arctic 61 (2): 162176.
Petrov, A. 2010. Post-staple bust: modeling economic effects of mine closures and post-mine demographic shifts in an arctic economy (Yukon). Polar Geography 33: 3961.
Petrov, A. 2011. Beyond spillovers: interrogating innovation and creativity in the peripheries. In: Bathelt, H., Feldman, M., and Kogler, D.F. (editors). Beyond territory: dynamic geographies of innovation and knowledge creation. New York: Routledge: 168190.
Petrov, A. 2012. Redrawing the margin: re–examining regional multichotomies and conditions of marginality in Canada, Russia and their northern frontiers. Regional Studies 46 (2): 5981.
Polèse, M., and Tremblay, R.. 2005. L'économie du savoir et la manie des ‘rankings’: une analyse intégrée des villes canadiennes et américaines. Le géographe canadien 49 (2): 198213.
Polèse, M., Shearmur, R., Desjardins, P.M., and Johnson, M.. 2002. The periphery in the knowledge economy: the spatial dynamics of the Canadian economy and the future of non–metropolitan regions in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Montreal: INRS – Urbanisation, Culture et Societe.
Power, M. 2003. Rethinking development geographies. London: Routledge.
Pravitel'stvo, R.F., 2000. O kontseptsii gosudarstvennoi podderzhki ekonomicheskogo I sotsiali'nogo razvitiya raionov Severa [About the conception of government supply of economic and social development of northern regions]. Resolution 197 (7).
Radcliffe, S.A. 2005. Development and geography: towards a postcolonial development geography? Progress in Human Geography 29 (3): 291298.
Rea, K.J. 1968. The political economy of the Canadian north. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Rea, K.J. 1976. The political economy of northern development. Ottawa: Science Council of Canada Background Study.
Schienstock, G. 2007. From path dependency to path creation: Finland on its way to the knowledge–based economy. Current Sociology 55 (1): 92109.
Scott, A.J. 2006. Creative cities: conceptual issues and policy questions. Journal of Urban Affairs 28 (1): 117.
Shearmur, R. 2007. The new knowledge aristocracy: a few thoughts on the creative class, mobility and urban growth. Work, Organization, Labour and Globalization 1 (1): 3147.
Stohr, W.B. 2000. Local initiatives in peripheral areas: an intercultural comparison between two case studies in Brazil and Austria. In: Lithwick, H., and Gradus, Y. (editors). Developing frontier cities. Global perspective – regional contexts. Boston, MA: Kulwer Academic Publishers: 233254.
Suorsa, K. 2009. Innovation systems and innovation policy in a periphery. Nordia Geographic Publications 38 (4)PAGES?.
Virkkala, S. 2007. Innovation and networking in peripheral areas – a case study of emergence and change in rural manufacturing. European Planning Studies 15 (4): 511529.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
  • URL: /core/journals/polar-record
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed