Wood___Roberts_2011_Tradional_Economic_G

the groups oflocational factors now to be considered

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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 the 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 and metals 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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