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industrial geography

  The study of the spatial arrangement of industrial activity. Industrial geography is a subfield of economic geography and deals with manufacturing or secondary activity. It is distinguished by the fact that the study of industrial location in its early years brought geography and economics closer together than any other branch of geographical inquiry.

Until the quantitative and model-building movement gathered strength in the latter part of the 1950s, the study of industrial geography was largely confined to the verbal description of the distribution of individual manufacturing activities. Explanation tended to emphasize the historical evolution of the patterns and to give undue emphasis to the role of physical-environmental factors, such as the availability of raw materials and natural sources of power. There was little attempt to generalize from the case studies; there was no explicit theoretical framework, and hardly any economic analysis.

In the latter part of the 1950s statistical methods began to be used on the measurement of industrial location patterns (cf. quantitative revolution). Then, as human geography became more interested in theory and models, industrial geography was able to benefit from existing work in economics. The birth of modern industrial location theory goes back to 1909, when the German economist Alfred Weber published his Uber den Standort der Industrien (translated into English as Alfred Weber\'s theory of industrial location in 1929). This book provided the foundations for variable cost analysis, which T. Palander (1935) and E.M. Hoover (1948) had significantly extended by the end of the 1930s. Parallel to this was the development of theory on locational interdependence, which formed the basis for variable revenue analysis. This approach grew out of the recognition that firms can derive spatial monopoly advantages from location, contrary to the assumptions of the model of perfect competition in economic theory.

Throughout most of the 1960s the variable cost approach dominated theory in industrial geography. Developments on the revenue side, mainly in market-area analysis, found their most obvious expression in the context of central place theory. The fusion of the variable cost and variable revenue approaches has proved to be very difficult in theory. The most influential attempts at synthesis in the tradition of spatial economic analysis were those of A. Lösch (The economics of location, 1954), M.L. Greenhut (Plant location in theory and in practice, 1956) and W. Isard (Location and space economy, 1956). Important contributions by geographers during this phase of development of industrial location analysis were few, a major exception being E.M. Rawstron\'s concept of spatial margins to profitability (see variable cost analysis).

Geographical contributions became more prominent towards the end of the 1960s, when traditional or \'neo-classical\' location theory came under assault during the ascendancy of behavioural geography. The shift from abstract models based on assumptions of optimizing objectives and capacity on behalf of decision-makers towards observation of actual location practice accorded with the traditionally more empirical predilections of the geographer. The practical application of location theory in the tradition of spatial economic analysis had always proved difficult, by virtue of the data demands of variable cost and variable revenue models. The empirical identification of locational decision-making was easier to undertake.

The 1970s saw two distinct but interconnected themes emerging in the more behaviourally oriented industrial geography. The first focused on the location decision-making process. The second theme stressed the role of industrial organization in the location decision and in the spatial organization of industrial activity in general. The perspective gradually broadened, from preoccupation with the location of single-plant firms, through the complexities of giant multi-plant and multi-product firms, to concern with entire spatial industrial systems.

During the 1980s, developments in industrial geograpy reflected the application of Marxian economics to location problems, in place of the neo-classical economics on which traditional location theory was based. The restructuring of industrial activity in a spatial context attracted increasing attention, within the broader context of change in the capitalist economy. As flexible accumulation has come to characterize this kind of economy, the small firm has re-emerged as a focus of interest during the 1990s. Increasing attention is also being given to networks of information exchange, which may be replacing traditional concerns such as input costs as factors influencing the location of some industries. There has also been a growing recognition that cultural factors are important in industrial activity, for example in some societies family membership and networks are prominent in the organization and financing of production.

Despite these and other contemporary developments, neo-classical location theory in the space economics tradition still has its adherents. Such considerations as cost minimization and spatial control of markets remain important to firms in a competitive capitalist economy, and the traditional models still have some utility as both predictive and prescriptive devices.

Since the introduction of location theory into industrial geography there has always been an interest in problems of planning industrial development. In the advanced capitalist world the focus has been primarily on problems of economic decline in older industrial regions and on plans to encourage the dispersal of manufacturing firms from prosperous metropolitan centres into the periphery. Attention has also been given to the decline of industry in the inner city. In the underdeveloped world the problem is how to stimulate industrial development in circumstances that may include limitations of resources, capital and skills, in the general context of dependency on the advanced capitalist world and in circumstances of accelerating globalization.

As with other specialized subfields of economic (and human) geography, industrial geography finds its independent existence increasingly at variance with the tendency towards integration of subject matter, which was originally stimulated by the quantitative and model-building movements, was further encouraged by the emergence of regional economics and regional science, and is an important feature of the political-economy perspective that seeks a holistic view of society. (DMS)

References Greenhut, M.L. 1956: Plant location in theory and in practice: the economics of space. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Hoover, E.M. 1948: The localtion of economic activity. New York: McGraw-Hill. Isard, W. 1956: Location and space economy: a general theory relating to industrial location, market areas, land use, trade and urban structure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; London: Chapman and Hall. Lösch, A. 1954: The economics of location, trans. W.H. Woglom. New Haven: Yale University Press; Oxford: Oxford University Press (first German edition 1940). Palander, T. 1935: Beitrage zur Standorts-theorie. Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksell. Weber, A. 1929: Alfred Weber\'s theory of the location of industries, trans. C.J. Friedrich. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Reprinted 1971, New York: Russell and Russell; first German edition 1909.)

Suggested Reading Carr, M. 1983: A contribution to the review and critique of behavioural industrial location theory. Progress in Human Geography 7: 386-402. Chapman, K. and Walker, D. 1991: Industrial location: principles and policies, 2nd edn. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Corbridge, S., Thrift, N. and Martin, R., eds, 1994: Money, power and space. Oxford: Blackwell. Hayter, R. and Watts, H.D. 1983: The geography of enterprise: a reappraisal. Progress in Human Geography 7: 157-81. Hayter, R. 1997: The dynamics of industrial location. Chichester and New York: John Wiley. Malmberg, A. 1996: Industrial geography: agglomeration and local milieu. Progress in Human Geography 20: 392-403. Malmberg, A. 1997: Industrial geography: location and learning. Progress in Human Geography 21: 573-82. Martin, R. 1994: Economic theory and human geography. In D. Gregory, R. Martin, and G. Smith, eds, Human geography: society, space and sopcial science. London: Macmillan, 21-53. Massey, D. 1984: Spatial divisions of labour: social structures and the geography of reproduction. London: Macmillan. O hUallachain, B. 1989: Industrial geography. Progress in Human Geography 13: 251-8. O hUallachain, B. 1991: Industrial geography. Progress in Human Geography 15: 73-80. Scott, A.J. 1988: New industrial spaces. London: Pion. Scott, A. and Storper, M. 1986: Production, work, territory: the geographical anatomy of industrial capitalism. London: Unwin Hyman. Sheppard, E. and Barnes, T.J. 1990: The capitalist space economy: analysis after Ricardo, Marx and Sraffa. London: Unwin Hyman. Smith, D.M. 1981: Industrial location: an economic geographical analysis, 2nd edn. New York: John Wiley. Smith, D.M. 1987: Neoclassical Location Theory. In W. Lever, ed., Industrial change in the United Kingdom. London: Longman, 23-37. Storper, M. and Walker, R.A. 1989: The capitalist imperative: territory, technology and industrial growth. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.



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