Wood___Roberts_2011_Tradional_Economic_G

In addition w eber analyzed the efrects o f lahor

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Unformatted text preview: tensity 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). H is model indicates that this will occur i f t he savings i n labor costs per unit o f t he product are greater than, a nd t hus more t han compensate for, the increase in transport costs incurred in moving the industry from the T o establish this relationship in a systenlatiic W eber refined his concept o f t he 'isodapane.' An isodapane, o r cost surface, contains points with the same costs, whether be transport costs o r l abor costs (see Figure 2.7 for an example). W eber also introduced the concept o f t he 'critical isodapane' which is t hat which reflects the locations where the costS o f a factor are just low enough to outweigh any additional transport costs that would be incurred by moving the site o f p roduction towards the labor location. 2 .7 Isodapanes Source: based on Weber 1929: 240. Having analyzed l abor as a f actor i n i ndustrial location, Weber moved o n t o what he called 'agglomerative and deglomerative factors' ( I 929: those that cause industrial activities t o cluster o r n ot a key economic geography issue and one that continues to occupy many economic geographers, as we shall see in later chapters. In considering this issue, Weber realized t he l imits o f his abstracted a nd d eductive approach; the hitherto considered causes oflocation were simple quantities which could be deduced from the known facts o f s ome isolated industrial process . . . The groups oflocational factors now to be considered are, o n the contrary, distinguished by t he fact that r...
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This document was uploaded on 01/24/2014.

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