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Unformatted text preview: esult from the social n ature o f p roduction, a nd are
accordingly n ot t o be discovered by analyzing an
isolated process o f p roduction.
(1929: 125, emphasis in original)
In examining rhe dynamics o f agglomeration, Weber
used the cost surface o r isodapane method (Figure 2.8). H e
pothesized that 'whatever the situation and whatever the
o f o utput o f any individual unit, i f its critical 23 22 TRADITIONAL LOCATION THEORY TRADITIONAL ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHIES
and was clearly distressed by its pOOl' quality: '[wle need t o
have before us the object with which we are dealing, clear
and discernible, and particularly measurable, in all its
9). TIle desire for measurable or quantitative data
has characterized much economic geography since Weber
as we shall see in later chapters, the i&~ue o f their extent
and quality has been an abiding concern.
Weber's model is a least cost model o f i ndustrial
location. In other words he assumed that the most rational
location for manufacturing is t hat characterized
lowest costs. In this he followed earlier work by another
German - Carl Wilhelm Friedrich Launhardt (1832-1918)
- who in t he 18805 h ad published his own ideas regarding
industrial location. Like Launhardt, W eber emphasized
t ransport costs - assumed t o be a function o f weight a nd
distance - both o f raw materials from their sources t o t he
manufacturing plant, a nd o f finished products to market.
In addition, W eber analyzed the efrects o f lahor costs.
'Their importance depended on the labor intensity o f the
manufacturing process and labor's cost relative t o the raw
materials used a ratio he termed the labor coefficient.
W eher t hen systematically added in complicating factors
in order t o m ore closely 'approximate reality' (1929: 76).
O ne o f t he most i mportant, n ot least in terms o f
subsequent work, was the effect o f agglomeration.
Weber's triangle, shown in
2.5, is a f ounding
representation o f t he industrial location problem. In the
triangle he models a situation in which there is a
m anufaauring plant t hat uses two raw material inputs
(RM 1 and R M 2) , each sourced from a different location.
The market in this case is a single location separate from
the raw material sources.
'The best models are those t hat w ith hindsight appear
to be almost self-evident. Weber's model is no exception,
b ut we must remember t hat a t the time it represented an
and innovative a ttempt t o t hink systematically
about the location ofindustry. There have been two main
aplprclac.nes t o calculating the optimum location (P) within
the simple triangle shown in
2.5. The first entails
using a mechanical model, the classic being the
Frame (Figure 2.6). As the figure indicates, the two raw
material sources and the market are each represented
representing ' the force with which the locational
will draw . . . [P] towards themselves, it being
assumed t hat o nly weight a nd d istance d etermine transportation' (Weber 1929: 54). Threads that are looped
over rollers c onnea the weights, and the center point
where the t hree threads c onnect will move to t he
o ptimum, t hat is least transport cost, location. Economic
geographers have moved away from actual mechanical
models like the Varignon Frame and have tended, more ., p ,
,, RM2 , ; / / 2.5 Weber's loeational triangle
Source: based on Weber 1929: 228. 2 .6 Varignon frame
Source: Weber 1929: 229. ' . RM, typically, to abstract the workings o f such models t o t he
realm o f geometry, trigonometry a nd mathematics. In the
case o f W eber's triangle, Georg Pick (the author o f t he
'Mathematical Appendix' to Weber's book) moves
from a short consideration o f t he Varignon Frame to a
discussion o f t he geometrical calculations t o be
employed i n identiJYing the location o fP.
Reflecting o n t he simple triangle model, W eber
highlighted the significance o fwhether the manufacturing
process was weight losing o r w eight gaining. The
o f weight o f used localized material t o the
o f the product' is what Weber termed the 'material
index' o f the product (1929: 60). I f the material index is
greater than 1 t hen the optimal location (P) will be pulled
close to the localized raw material source, whereas an index
less t han 1 will pull the optimal location closer to the
market. A classic example o f a weight losing
a material index greater t han 1 is t he smelting
o f ore are the
in which large
such as c opper o r iron are the outputs. Accordingly,
smelters tend to be located at o r close t o the source o f t he
ore used to extract metals. Conversely, the manufacture
o f beer o r soft drinks, where the principal i nput is water
- a ubiquitous product, entails a weight gaining process
a nd w ith a material index less than 1,
o r near its market.
After considering the effects o f raw materials, markets
and transport costs, Weber introduced the £,ctor oflabor,
a nd specifically o f l ahor costs. H e was
concerned to assess t he conditions under which labor
could act as a locational 'pull' on an industry (Box 2.1)....
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- Winter '14