Equilibrium versus Understanding: Towards the Restoration of Economics as Social Theory

By Mark Addleson | Go to book overview

9

LOCATION THEORY AS A NARRATIVE

‘Uncertainty’, so often completely forgotten, or regarded as a ‘trimming’, by economists, is something that it would be disastrous not to introduce into administrative theory at the outset. If money revenue is the businessman’s sole aim, cost, as well as revenue, is always somebody’s uncertain, fallible estimate or projection of future prices and is a ‘function’ of that particular person’s mind. If the first approximation allows us to forget this, it becomes a ‘vicious abstraction’.

(Thirlby 1973:206)


INVESTIGATING THE NARRATIVE OF THEORY

I have indicated my dissatisfaction with the approaches to the location problem of both the behavioural and neoclassical theories of location. There is a sense that the accounts of how firms find a suitable location that are to be found in these theories, both of which entail a third-person perspective, are wrong. I propose to clarify this by investigating how the theories explain location decision-making. The basis for doing so, for establishing the criteria against which the theories will be assessed and for determining where the explanations are unsatisfactory, is our understanding of decision-making. As social beings, who make decisions and spend both our business and family lives with other people who do so, we have first-hand experience or understanding of what decision-making is about. By treating location theory as a narrative and examining that narrative, I will ask whether the story accords with our understanding, or how it deviates from our comprehension of how decisions are made.

In order to treat economic theory and specifically location theory as a narrative, it is necessary to articulate what is left implicit in the formulation of the theory. With the exposition of location theory in Chapter 8 as the starting point, the object now is to highlight aspects of the two approaches to location that provide insight into what a discourse, conducted within the parameters of a positivist methodology, reveals about the world and, ultimately, about decision-making. The picture

-155-

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Equilibrium versus Understanding: Towards the Restoration of Economics as Social Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Figures ix
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Part 1 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Two Languages of Economic Theory 13
  • 2 - Neoclassical Methodology 34
  • 3 - The Practices of Neoclassicists 52
  • 4 - On Subjectivism 68
  • 5 - Interpretative Understanding 79
  • 6 - Austrian Economics and Subjectivism 97
  • 7 - Implications of Interpretative Understanding 116
  • Part 2 133
  • 8 - Models of Industrial Location 135
  • 9 - Location Theory as a Narrative 155
  • 10 - Decisions About Things in the World 170
  • 11 - Plans and Decisions as Understanding 182
  • 12 - Investment Decisions 195
  • 13 - Understanding and Locations 213
  • 14 - Retrospect and Prospect 231
  • Notes 241
  • References 266
  • Index 288
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