Dynamics in economic geography 2e druk - Ton van Rietbergen, Sierdjan Koster

1 | What is economic geography?

to bring fresh news to each other and too hemmed in by bureaucratic regulations. They become too indulgent to each other, lose sight of the economic rationale and as a group suffer from a lack of openness and flexibility. Maintaining relationships outside the immediate environment can counter these harmful developments. Today’s buzzword in this respect is ‘networking’, with collaboration between agents as its central concept. They can be companies, insti tutions or authorities that collaborate to save money, exchange knowledge or in spire each other. For many companies, what the consumer wants is a key stimulus behind their networking activity. Marketing and innovation are increasingly inter connected, and the question the modern economic geographer seeks to answer is how these networks influence the behaviour of both manufacturers and consum ers. An important question that flows from this is how these networks can be or ganized. In this connection, British geographer Peter Taylor, who laid the founda tion for the ‘world-city network approach’ (2001), remarked that: 'as a product of "state-istics", the geographical bedrock of social sciences is territorial; it describes the world as a space of places'. To him this was too narrow a view. What is needed is research in which the world is analyzed as a space of interactions. Taylor reached this conclusion after studying international networks like those of banks and so licitors’ practices. He argued that it is impossible to explain the location choices of large corporate service providers without insight into the information exchange between these organizations and the various networks within which they operate. Here Taylor agreed with Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells (2000), whose name is associated with spatial networks and who was the first to state that ‘spaces of flow’ may well be more important than ‘spaces of places’. The relation between economics and geography has not only given rise to debate within the academic community, it also has a strong bearing on industry. It is in business management that the two disciplines meet. This multidisciplinary area of study is concerned with optimizing managerial processes. It does so by studying how businesses are organized (e.g. in terms of staff, purchase, logistics, marketing and financial management) and the environments they operate in. The paths of economic geography and business management cross at the point of the latter key objective, as both disciplines study the factors determining where a business de cides to establish itself. Location decisions with an international scope are often about access to a for eign market and better protection of the company’s own products. In this context, a central location in a continent can play an important role. Once a company or its subsidiary has established itself in a given location, it starts to build regional connections. These can be business links with suppliers, consumers and ancillary services, or links with authorities, for example concerning legal aspects. However, Industry and environment



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