Start Geo Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
geology dictionary - geography encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   



services, geography of

  The study of the geography of service industries. Services are usually defined as \'activities which are relatively detached from material production and which as a consequence do not directly involve the processing of physical materials. The main difference between manufacturing and service products seems to be that the expertise provided by services relies much more directly on work-force skills, experience, and knowledge than on physical techniques embodied in machinery or processes\' (Marshall et al., 1988, p. 11). But general statements of this kind have proved very difficult to convert into clear working definitions of services and, in reality, the definition is often made by a process of exclusion; services are not agricultural, mining or industrial production. Only recently have complex and partly satisfactory definitions of services been made, usually on the basis of binary distinctions such as producer and consumer services, public and private services, tradeable and non-tradeable services, office-based and non-office-based services, and so on (see Petit, 1986; Marshall, Damesick and Wood, 1987; cf. abstraction; chaotic conception).

The study of services has clearly become a pressing task as these industries have become a more and more prominent part of all developed economies (in terms of both output and, more particularly, employment). As the absolute and proportional importance of services has become clear so the debates over their actual economic importance have become more intense. On the one hand, there has been growing debate over whether service industries are dependent on manufacturing industry, for example, and over the apparently lower levels of productivity in many service industries (although measuring productivity in service industries is itself a vexed topic). On the other hand, some commentators (for example, Dicken and Thrift, 1992; Sayer and Walker, 1992) have suggested that many of these problems only arise because service industries are seen as discrete entities rather than as links in extended commodity chains or \'filières\', and because it is too often forgotten that service industries themselves produce tangible, traded commodities (whether these are wills, pieces of software, or instructional videotapes). Again, the success of manufacturing industry is often nowadays associated with intangible factors, many of which turn out to be associated with the quality of services provided either from within or from outside the manufacturing firm (Marshall, 1989).

Given these problems, it is no surprise that the geography of services remains a very diverse area of research. Certain service industries (like producer services and retailing) are comparatively well studied. Others, like tourism and many public services, are only now being given their due (Pinch, 1989; Mohan, 1991; cf. health and health care, geography of). What seems certain is that there is no one geography of services. Rather, there is a whole set of different geographies of services which vary according to the characteristics of the specific industry (Allen, 1988). It may still be possible to make some generalizations about the geography of services as a whole, because certain types of service industry are still concentrated in very large metropolitan centres, others are growing in intermediate cities, or major provincial cites, and others still are growing in small towns and rural areas (Glasmeier and Borchard, 1989; O\'hUallachain and Reid, 1991) but whether the results repay the effort can be questioned.

There are currently six discernible tendencies in the study of the geography of services.

The first is an increasing emphasis on large services firms as service industries have become increasingly centralized (cf. concentration and centralization).

The second tendency is a natural development of the first: service firms are becoming more and more international in scope. The past 20 years have seen the growth of the services multinational corporation in industries as diverse as financial services, retailing, and tourism (Daniels, 1993; O\'Farrell, Wood and Zheng, 1996; Bryson and Daniels, 1998a, 1998b; Dicken, 1998). The study of these large services multinational corporations involves research into many of the same strategies as those found in other sectors of the world economy, including merger and takeover franchising, strategic alliances, and the full range of flexible labour force and production possibilities (see flexible accumulation).

The third tendency, one that is both counterposed and linked to the previous ones, is the growing interest in the role of small and medium-sized service firms. Small and medium-sized firms in the service industries have been relatively neglected in favour of their larger cousins. This exclusive emphasis is now changing as it has been increasingly realized that such firms can, under certain circumstances, become dynamic elements of urban and regional economies (Keeble, Bryson and Wood, 1991;Wood, Bryson and Keeble, 1993).

A fourth tendency has been to take more account of the rise of service industries as a function of the production and distribution of knowledge. Business schools, management consultancies, lawyers, accountants, and the like all have one chief characteristic: the construction of knowledge for economic gain. Neglected in the past, these knowledge industries are now seen to be at the centre of any geography of services (Thrift, 1997, 1998).

A fifth focus of study has been on the often vital role of advances in telecommunications, both in allowing services to internationalize and in making many services more tradeable. It is important to remember that without modern telecommunications many modern services firms and products could not exist (Brunn and Leinbach, 1991; Graham and Marvin, 1995; Mitchelson and Wheeler, 1994). (See communications, geography of; information economy; world city.)

Finally, the nature of service industries\' workforces is now seen as vital. In particular, much more attention has been paid to the exact role of managerial and professional workers, and especially their intense patterns of interaction, often at the world scale (Beaverstock, 1991, 1995). Equally, attention is being paid to service industry labour processes and, especially, to the vital role that planned and increasingly taught human interaction plays within them (Crang, 1995, 1997). Then, because service industries are relatively more feminized than other industries, considerable attention has also been paid to issues of the social construction of gendered jobs in services, and the consequent struggles to redefine these jobs in terms of pay, conditions and status (Pringle, 1988; Crompton and Jones, 1990; McDowell, 1997). (See also gender and geography.)

As a result of increasing interest in how service industries are \'performed\', the economic geography of services has begun to take a markedly cultural turn (see Thrift and Olds, 1996; Lee and Wills, 1997). (NJT)

References Allen, J. 1988: The geographies of service. In D. Massey and J. Allen, eds, Uneven redevelopment: cities and regions in transition. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 124-41. Beaverstock, J. 1991: Skilled international migration analysis of international secondments within large accountancy firms. Environment and Planning A 23: 1087-22. Brunn, S. and Leinbach, T., eds, 1991: Collapsing space and time: geographic aspects of communication and information. London: HarperCollins. Bryson, J. and Daniels, P.W., eds, 1998a: Service industries in the global economy, volume 1: Service theories and service employment. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Bryson, J. and Daniels, P.W., eds, 1998b: Service industries in the global economy, volume 2: Services, globalisation and economic development. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Coffey, W. 1995: Producer services research in Canada. Professional Geographer 47: 74-81. Crang, P. 1995: It\'s showtime: on the workplace geographies of display in a restaurant in South-East England. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 15: 87-112. Crang, P. 1997: Performing the tourist product. In R. Rojek and J. Urry, eds, Touring cultures. Transformations of travel and theory. London: Routledge, 137-54. Crompton, R. and Jones, R. 1990: Gendered jobs and social change. London: Unwin Hyman. Daniels, P. 1993: Service industries in the world economy. Oxford: Blackwell. Daniels, P. 1995: Producer services research in the United Kingdom. Professional Geographer 47: 82-7. Daniels, P. and Lever, W.F., eds, 1996: The global economy in transition. Harlow: Longman. Dicken, P. 1998: Global shift: transforming the world economy, 3rd edn. London: Sage. Dicken, P. and Thrift, N.J. 1992: The organisation of production and the production of organisation: why enterprises matter in the study of geographical industrialisation. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 17: 279-91. Glasmeier, A. and Bochard, G. 1989: From branch plants to back offices: prospects for rural services growth. Environment and Planning A 21: 1565-83. Graham, S. and Marvin, S. 1995: Telecommunications and the City. Electronic spaces, urban spaces. London: Routledge. Harrington, J. 1995: Empirical research on producer service growth and regional development: international comparisons. Professional Geographer 47: 66-9. Keeble, D., Bryson, J. and Wood, P. 1991: Small firms, business services growth and regional development in the UK. Regional Studies 25: 439-54. Lee, R. and Wills, J., eds, 1997. Geographies of economies. London: Arnold. Macpherson, A. 1997: The role of producer service outsourcing in the innovation performance of New York State manufacturing firms. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 87: 52-71. Marshall, J.N. 1989: Corporate reorganisation and the geography of services. Regional Studies 23: 139-50. Marshall, J.N. et al. 1988: Services and uneven development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Marshall, J.N., Damesick, P. and Wood, P. 1987: Understanding the location and role of producer services in the UK. Environment and Planning A 19: 575-95. McDowell, L. 1997: Capital culture. Oxford: Blackwell. Mitchelson, R.L. and Wheeler, J.O. 1994: The flow of information in a global economy: the role of the American urban system in 1990. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 81: 254-71. Mohan, J. 1991: The internationalisation and commercialisation of health care in Britain. Environment and Planning A 23: 853-68. Noyelle, J.J. 1997: Business services and the economic performance of the New York metropolitan region. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Economic Policy Review 3: 79-82. O\'Farrell, P., Wood, P.A. and Zheng, J. 1996: Internationalization of business services: an inter-regional analysis. Regional Studies 30: 101-18. O\'hUallachain, B. and Reid, N. 1991: The location and growth of business and professional services in American metropolitan areas. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 81: 254-70. Petit, D. 1986: Slow growth and the service economy. London: Frances Pinter. Pinch, S. 1989: The restructuring thesis and the study of public services. Environment and Planning A 21: 905-26. Pringle, R. 1988: Secretaries\' work. London: Verso. Sayer, A. and Walker, R. 1992: The new social economy. Oxford: Blackwell. Thrift, N.J. and Olds, K. 1996: Refiguring the economic in economic geography. Progress in Human Geography 20: 311-37. Thrift, N.J. 1997: The rise of soft capitalism. Cultural Values 1: 29-57. Thrift, N.J. 1998: Virtual capitalism: the globalization of reflexive business knowledge. In J. Carrier and D. Miller, eds, Virtualism. A new political economy. Oxford, Berg, 161-86. Wood, P.A., Bryson, J. and Keeble, D. 1993: Regional patterns of small firm development in the business services: evidence from the United Kingdom. Environment and Planning A 25: 677-700.

Suggested Reading Marshall, N. and Wood, P. 1995: Services and space: key aspects of urban and regional development. Harlow: Longman.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>
sequent occupance
settlement continuity


Other Terms : urban social movement | privatization | urban system
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us