Industrial Location: Principles, Practice, and Policy

Industrial Location: Principles, Practice, and Policy

Industrial Location: Principles, Practice, and Policy

Industrial Location: Principles, Practice, and Policy


Location is vital to the efficiency and profitability of industrial activitiy; Industrial Location is a valuable introduction to this broad and complex geographical subject.


Look around the city or town where you live. Think about the forces that structure your world and everyday life. What processes yielded the built environment? Why are companies and jobs located where they are? Why are skyscrapers, filled with banks and insurance companies, clustered downtown? Where did the steel or automobile factories go? Why is your shirt likely to be made in China? Go to the grocery store: where did all of these goods come from? What types of jobs do your parents have? How are they different from the ones their parents had? How will your job future resemble or differ from theirs? Why are you likely to work in the service sector? Do you know anyone who works for a foreign company? Why is it here? Why do television networks and newspapers give so much attention to matters like the European Union or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? How will these international communities affect you?

These are the sorts of questions that concern economic geographers, especially those interested in industrial location. To some, the word “industrial” connotes dirty smokestacks or boring lists of exports and imports. Yet, as we shall see, “industries” include service firms and office work, as well as many other types of jobs. You do, or will, work in an “industry.” How this industry is structured, how it came to be the way it is, the competitive and regulatory environment it faces, the various technologies it can adopt, and other factors that influence why it decided to locate where it did, all have an immense influence on your everyday life and future prospects. For those of you who hope to get a job in the business community, start your own firm, or are worried about your career prospects, industrial location is an essential topic. People who ignore the dynamics of industry do so at their peril. Obviously this doesn’t mean that reading this book will get you a job, but it does mean that you will have an appreciation of the context, forces, and issues that structure your future job opportunities. This sort of knowledge is particularly important given that we live in a world of constant, incessant, breathtaking change.

For most of you, change has become one of the few things upon which you can rely. Constant change characterizes your personal lives, careers and career prospects, and the look and feel of the world you see around you and in the news media. This book provides narrow, focused lenses on one important aspect of those changes. We are concerned with organizations’ decisions about the location of production. the following paragraphs describe the ways in which these decisions affect the direction of your personal prospects and world changes. This one aspect of change seems pretty narrow, but if you look at the range of offices, warehouses, and factories around you, and take note of the daily announcements of openings, closings, expansions, and layoffs, you get a sense of how big and unwieldy a topic it is.

We will use two lenses to address these topics, to make some sense of the daily announcements. One lens is fairly narrow and largely economic. the other lens is broader and more historical. We’ll use the economic lens to pull into focus location requirements, relate them to the varied nature of

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