Geography and Corporate Risk Assessment
Ewan W. Anderson
Geography has been defined in numerous ways, but the all-embracing nature of the discipline defies the formulation of a generally accepted definition. However, in broad terms, geography can be considered the study of location and, in particular, the relationship between man and his environment. Since the total environment includes both the natural and the man-made, the subject matter of geography is drawn from both the physical and the social sciences. On the one hand, it is concerned with the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the lithosphere, which together comprise the physical world, and on the other, with the political, the economic, and the social, which between them provide a summary of man's activities. It is the interplay of these variables in the appropriate historical setting at a specific location that forms the core of geography. Thus a geographical factor can be any occurrence or event that happens at a known time in a specified place.
An example of the multifaceted nature of geographical concern can be illustrated with the case of minerals. Over the past decade, Western defense industrialists and planners have become particularly interested in the vulnerability of mineral supplies and in what constitutes a "strategic mineral." 1 For Western nations at the present time, the basic variables might be identified and weighted as in table 15.1. 2 It can be seen that half the relevant factors can be characterized as locational. Chromium, manganese, platinum-group metals, cobalt, and tungsten emerge with the highest risk factor and are in fact generally viewed as "strategic minerals."