Niche practices in the upstream petroleum industry

V. Acha, J. Finch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


We identify three approaches to understanding niches: (1) the wellspring as a stable ecology where resources are exogenously defined, (2) the firm’s forte as a specific location created by a company in its development and use of resources, and (3) emergence through collective discovery as a site of novelty through interacting resources across different agents. We assess the tractability of these three approaches empirically in assessing the exploration, development and production activities in deepwater in the US Gulf of Mexico. Niches are distinct from clusters. Niches exhibit extensive bounds at particular moments in time and temporal bounds in which endogenous tendencies foresee their demise. The resources of niches develop through interacting both autonomously and through agents’ deliberation in realising entrepreneurial plans through experimental activities. We find that Approach (2) is most convincing in capturing the early phases in forming a niche, with Approach (3) being more visible towards its end, although neither captures the niche exclusively. Approach (1) is more appropriate to clusters. Geels (2002) envisages a break between an established socio-technical regime or cluster and a niche, with the niche being an experimental location from which the sociotechnical regime selects among proto-technological trajectories. In contrast, we find communication and continuation between the realms of the niche and the socio-technical regime.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication21st Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Conference
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Event21st Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Conference - Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Duration: 1 Jan 2005 → …


Conference21st Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Conference
Period1/01/05 → …


  • Niche
  • Upstream petroleum industry
  • Oil and petroleum industry
  • Experimental organisation resources
  • Complex Product Systems (CoPS)


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