Journal of Economic Geography
Underlying the crisis affecting peripheral European countries is their structural, longterm loss of competitiveness (Hadjimichalis, 2011, European Urban and Regional Studies, 18: 254–274). This article will focus on the Portuguese case and discuss the institutional constraints that hindered its economy from transitioning towards the production of higher-value added goods and services. It will discuss institutions as the product of a political process laden with power asymmetries and argue that the dominance of a relatively small community at the heart of economic and political life in Portugal has conditioned the development of the economy as a whole. Using this framework, this article will then contribute to the literatures on innovation and technological modernisation and argue that alongside a technical process of catching up there is a political process that can enable or constrain development.