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2023 | Buch

Great Minds in Regional Science, Vol. 2


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This book is the second volume in a new series on 'Great Minds in Regional Science,' which seeks to present a contemporary view on the scientific relevance of the work done by great thinkers in regional science. This volume presents, among others, Adam Smith, Johann Heinrich von Thünen, and Alan Wilson. Each chapter combines factual biographical information about the ‘Great Mind,’ a description of their major contributions, and a discussion of the broader context of their work, as well as an assessment of its current relevance, scientific recognition, and policy impact. The book attempts to fill a gap in our knowledge and to respond to the growing interest in the formation and development of the field of regional science and its key influential figures.


This second volume in the book series, Great Minds in Regional Science, continues telling the story, begun in the first volume, of the intellectual history of regional science. The perspective provided is through the lens of the contributions made by individual scholars influential to the multidisciplinary field’s establishment and development. The eleven Great Minds featured in this volume have been grouped under two headings: Antecedents of Regional Science and Laying the Foundations of Regional Science. Chapters in the first section detail the seminal works for regional science of Adam Smith, Johann Heinrich Von Thünen, Alfred Weber, and Corrado Gini; those in the second section describe the significant concepts developed by Jan Tinbergen, Albert O. Hirschman, Leslie Curry, Crawford “Buzz” Holling, Karen R. Polenske, Wolfgang Weidlich, and Alan Wilson. Great Minds chosen for the series include a blend of well-known figures and others meriting wider recognition for having advanced—in some significant way—the field's pedagogy and institutionalization. Each chapter is organized with a similar format: a factual bio-sketch; a description of major contributions; an analysis of the broader context of the work; and an assessment of its present relevance, its scientific contribution, and its policy and scientific impact. The contributing authors are, themselves, leading scholars in the field.
David Plane, Peter Batey

Antecedents of Regional Science

Adam Smith (1723–1790): Uncovering His Legacy for Regional Science
The aim of this major piece of original scholarship by Roberto Camagni is to justify the inclusion of Adam Smith among the Great Minds of Regional Science. This endeavor may seem curious, because Smith was never associated with regional topics, space economy, or geography, and he is rarely, if ever, explicitly referenced on particular issues in the regional science literature.
In fact, however, it is possible to find in Smith’s works a clear systematization of important concepts normally used in regional science. The most significant of these concepts is that of land rent, in its twofold nature as agricultural rent and “situation” rent. Smith analytically defines, in the latter case, the concept of bid rent, usually attributed to Von Thünen fifty years before him. Above all, to author Camagni's knowledge, Smith was the first to build a theory of urban land rent, detailing its components and sources, as well as providing justification for its “peculiar” taxation. His was a theory entirely accepted during the following one hundred years—until Marshall and Pigou—and it is still referenced today. Moreover, Smith analyzed the “city” and the “country” as the two archetypes of the territorial realm, interpreting the historical evolution of their relationship as the pathway of the progress of human institutions and the human mind. In his theoretical interpretation, he considered both functional complementarities and hierarchical, distributive, and power relations—concepts very instructive for the interpretation of the present role of large cities.
The importance of Smith’s legacy, however, extends much beyond these direct contributions to regional science issues. His conception of economic progress as closely interwoven with political and social processes pointed to the importance of civil institutions. His analysis of individual conduct—based on self-interest and “self-love” (not selfishness!), but also on “sympathy” for joy or pain of others, relationality, and reciprocity—revealed the existence of a wider, individual, and social goal beyond “opulence”: that of public happiness. His philosophical equalitarianism induced him to condemn some harmful products of the invisible hand of the market when not framed by appropriate institutions, and even to question the much-praised principle of the division of labor when it works against the progress and the emancipation of the lower classes, thus anticipating Marx’s theory of worker alienation.
Most of these issues and fields of inquiry were advanced through new strands of economic theory starting to be developed almost one hundred and fifty years after the Wealth of Nations and mostly present within regional science. In this case, Camagni’s intention is not to claim a historical priority for Smith's contributions, but only to signal that many theoretical developments could have been achieved earlier and more easily had Smith's legacy not been misunderstood or lost for so long.
Roberto Camagni
Johann Heinrich Von Thünen (1783–1850): A Systemic View of Human Interaction Within Space
Von Thünen’s work predated the formalization of regional science by more than a century, yet scholars continue to refine and extend the foundational concepts he formalized. In this chapter, Tomás Dentinho provides a rich, systematic account of Von Thünen’s major research contributions: its influence in the past and its relevance today. The chapter aims to show how Von Thünen provided evidence on, and innovative ideas about, the functioning of markets for goods, land, and labor, while also contributing illuminating thoughts on economic efficiency, social equity, and sustainable land use. The approach Dentinho takes is to analyze Von Thünen’s body of published work—complemented by what was written about his theory of the “Isolated State” over the subsequent century and a half by different scholars—from the perspective of Von Thünen in his real-life role as a wise and informed farmer and as both a manager and a landlord. On the one hand, he was interested in maximizing the value added of his farm, namely by developing the theory of land rent; on the other hand, he was concerned about the effects of urbanization and industrialization, a concern he addressed, chiefly, by creating the theory of the natural wage. Being both a farm manager and a proprietor and trying to detach himself from physiocrats, Von Thünen may have missed the multiplier effects of land rents that generate the city, while favoring the perspective of urban agglomeration economies, which are implicit in his work. The chapter concludes by arguing there remains much to explore in the seminal intuitions of, and the empirical evidence provided by, Johann Heinrich Von Thünen. To name just three: the spatial distribution of the multiplier effects of the rents from natural resources, the identification of policy tools for land use management, and the hierarchy of cities that develop when various cities interact with each other.
Tomás Ponce Dentinho
Alfred Weber (1868–1958): The Father of Industrial Location Theory and Supply-Chain Design
In this chapter, Richard Church discusses Alfred Weber’s seminal work, Theory of the Location of Industries. Weber published his book in the early part of his career, and rather than attempt to describe why new industries emerge, he sought to describe why certain locations are chosen for the production of a given product. Central to his theory was the need to serve one or more places of consumption of a product with raw materials that are only found at discrete places. Most recognize Weber for what is termed the locational triangle, a figure involving the placement of a factory between two needed, localized raw material sources and one market. He is also widely recognized for his analysis of different industrial location decisions in terms of an orientation toward a raw material source or oriented towards a market. And, in addition, he was the first to describe the notions of agglomeration and the impact of specialized labor forces. But few are familiar with his detailed discussion of complexities found in production systems, involving problems of multiple plant location, capacitated raw material sources, raw material source allocation, and even staged production systems, where production is split among geographically separated production facilities. He was also the first to describe the impact of varying labor costs and the potential for a factory to be moved to take advantage of inexpensive labor, substitutable resources (e.g., coal vs. water power), and land prices. Many of these concepts and location principles form the initial basis for supply-chain design, as well as industrial and service facility location.
Richard L. Church
Corrado Gini (1884–1965): Versatile Originator of Measures of Variability
Although the bulk of Corrado Gini’s career predated the beginnings of the field of regional science and recent developments in spatial econometrics, his ideas and contributions have been, and continue to be, influential in past and current work carried out in many areas of regional science research. While the coefficient of inequality that bears his name is by far his most well-known contribution, his other work has also had a lasting impact and influence on the development of important measures in regional science and geography. Much of what Gini contributed was rediscovered or reintroduced many years later. For example, in a very early contribution, he discussed subjective probability, beliefs, and inductive probability. In many ways, this anticipated the seminal work on inductive logic of (Carnap, Philosophy of Science 12:72–97, 1945) and Bayesian probability. In this chapter by Peter Rogerson, the measures of variability that Gini originated are reviewed, and applications to geography and regional science are emphasized. A detailed treatment of his well-known and eponymous measure of inequality is presented, and then four other areas of measurement that have been critical for progress in a variety of research areas in geography and regional science are detailed: locating centers of population; making international price comparisons; constructing indexes of agreement and classification accuracy; and measuring diversity.
Peter Rogerson

Laying the Foundations of Regional Science

Jan Tinbergen (1903–1994): A Rational Thinker on Inequality and Distribution
Jan Tinbergen is generally seen as one of the greatest economists from the second part of the last century. With a background in physics, he was able to introduce a wide variety of quantitative modeling techniques in economic research. In this chapter, Peter Nijkamp describes how Tinbergen’s interest in human and social inequity problems led him also into the field of regional science, where he produced several remarkable and influential publications. A prominent contribution to regional science can be found in the integration of his pioneering work on international (or spatial) gravity models for trade and transport with the hierarchical systems approach and central place theory paradigms developed earlier by August Lösch and Walter Christaller, respectively. Another path-breaking contribution of Jan Tinbergen can be found in his thorough quantitative analysis of income inequality and poverty in different regions of the world. Jan Tinbergen continues to be a source of inspiration for scholars who combine a sharp analytical mind with a deep concern on wellbeing and livability issues on our planet.
Peter Nijkamp
Albert O. Hirschman (1915–2012): An Unorthodox Regional Scientist
In this chapter, Abdul Shaban examines the career and unorthodox economics scholarship of Albert O. Hirschman, who was a product of implosion in Central Europe during 1930s and 1940s and who, like many other scholars, was forced to migrate to safer places. In the USA, he grew as a scholar and carried out pioneering research extending our understanding of regional and development economics. The chapter illustrates Hirschman’s unique approach, detailing his contributions related to unbalanced growth strategy, the relationship between social overhead capital and directly productive activities, linkages, grassroots development, trade and regional development, non-economic factors in development, and rival interpretation of capitalism or varieties of capitalism.
Among luminary economists and regional scientists, Hirschman stands out because of his wide-ranging work on seemingly unconnected aspects of economic and social life, his unorthodox methods of investigation, and his quintessentially liberal ideological approach. Hirschman combined German idealism, English-US empiricism, and political economy and Italian liberal socialism, providing insights about the development process based on his observations rather than formal development models and turning economic theories on their heads by extending alternative explanations while always looking for endogenous social and development theory.
Abdul Shaban
Leslie Curry (1923–2009): Expounder of the Random Spatial Economy and Spatial Autocorrelation
Leslie Curry’s scholarly contributions had significant impacts on the early formation and evolution of the multidisciplinary field of regional science, especially in terms of its quantitative theoretical geographic thinking and heritage. He made a lasting contribution to a better understanding of geospatial data through his spatial autocorrelation work (foreshadowing the emergence of the spatial statistics and spatial econometrics subdisciplines), and his revolutionary treatment of the gravity model—a key regional science instrument and one of the most popular regional science models—captures spatial autocorrelation latent in geographic flows. His influential insights about these descriptors of georeferenced phenomena also link him to other prominent American geographers who contributed to the emergence of regional science. Curry’s academic career being concomitant with the early days of regional science helped him to build bridges between this emerging multidisciplinary field and human geography. Interestingly, he proved to be a scholar before his time with regard to the quantitative revolution in geography. Although the same spatial economics pioneers inspiring Curry also later inspired Garrison’s Seattle geography group, his scholarship clearly departed from their approach. Curry pursued interdisciplinary research, synergistically merging concepts from geography with those from biology, economics, physics, and mathematics. Regional science attracted Curry because of its multidisciplinary nature—one of its early-day strengths. In this chapter, author Daniel Griffith contends that Leslie Curry left an indelible mark on regional science, one with a legacy. Going forward, Curry’s bolstering of the gravity model—his uncovering of its dormant, marked, spatial autocorrelation complications—allowed a contemporary refinement of this construct’s success story. He pioneered transformative work about settlement theory and stochastic processes, mostly with regard to map pattern description, and posited theories and concepts that have promoted a better understanding of the space economy. Curry’s multiple-scale conceptualization of georeferenced data should continue to help regional scientists and quantitative geographers solve new problems.
Daniel A. Griffith
Crawford “Buzz” Holling (1930–2019): Progenitor of Resilience in Regional Science
In this chapter, the career of Crawford Stanley “Buzz” Holling, a prominent Canadian ecologist, is discussed. Holling was the first to give scientific meaning to the term resilience in the post-World War II era and to demonstrate its use in studying ecological systems. In the last four decades, a consensus has emerged that the notion of resilience is pertinent not only for studying ecological systems but also for analyzing socioeconomic systems studied by regional scientists. Chapter author Batabyal details the contemporary relevance of resilience and describes five aspects of the use of resilience in regional science. This discussion includes commentary on the policy implications and the societal impacts of a resilience-based approach to regional science. Even though Buzz Holling never worked in regional science, his interdisciplinary research and his founding of the Resilience Alliance have stimulated regional scientists to pursue research where the focus is on the development of models integrative of change that have practical value. After discussing three foundational and two policy-related issues involving the use of resilience in regional science, the chapter concludes that additional research is necessary to: clear up some conceptual issues; more fully demonstrate that, for socioeconomic systems, resilience is not always a good thing; and focus clearly on the distinctions between resilience and sustainability when formulating regional policies.
Amitrajeet A. Batabyal
Karen R. Polenske (1937–): A Journey from Rural Idaho to MIT
Karen R. Polenske has been a very important and influential contributor to regional and interregional modeling in both the USA and China. Her work has extended to a whole range of regional growth and development issues, as well as to the extension of socio-economic modeling to embrace environmental linkages. The latter work was heavily focused on China with the novel use of enterprise accounts for an iron and steel plant that was further elaborated to address production systems at different technological and spatial scales and to consider the health implications of these operations. In this chapter, Geoffrey Hewings chronicles the remarkable perseverance that Polenske exhibited in launching and sustaining her career and then becoming an internationally acclaimed intellectual leader. She had a major influence in the creation and success of the North American Regional Science Council, and she became one of the first group of scholars to be recognized as Fellows in the International Input–Output Association, for which she also served as President. Her continuing influence in the organization of science extended to the training and mentoring of hundreds of Chinese scholars at MIT. A prize in her name, funded by her alumni, bears eloquent testimony to her remarkable commitment to fostering both Chinese regional economic development and successor generations of highly skilled regional scientists.
Geoffrey J. D. Hewings
Wolfgang Weidlich (1931–2015): A Pioneer in Sociophysics
German physicist, Wolfgang Weidlich, has been called “one of the great intellects of the twentieth century” and was the founder of a new field that he termed “sociophysics.” His work harkened back to an earlier body of physics research applied to social systems that was among constituent streams of thought that Walter Isard merged into his early conceptualizations of the theory and methods of regional science. The theoretical approach and the models Weidlich proposed in the 1980s and 1990s—applied, for instance, to human migration systems—were at that time well in line with the expectations of geographers interested in dynamic formalizations to represent socio-spatial transformations. As described in this chapter by Denise Pumain, the work of this physicist inspired many people and marked an important moment in the opening of regional science to system dynamics. It will undoubtedly also have profound repercussions in the coming decades for advancing our understanding of the evolution of public opinions and interactions, as revealed from handling the massive data generated by various uses of mobile sensors and social networks. Those in the regional science community with whom Weidlich came into contact were blessed by their interactions: He was a luminous speaker and a smiling, caring person, a man deeply imbued with humanism and culture. Albeit not widely known among contemporary and current cohorts of regional scientists, Weidlich’s perceptive insights into the dynamics of social systems merit his recognition and inclusion as a Great Mind.
Denise Pumain
Alan Wilson (1939–): A Renaissance Man in Regional Science
Sir Alan Geoffrey Wilson is no ordinary regional scientist. Some sixty years ago, he began his career as a mathematician and theoretical physicist analyzing bubble chamber events at the Rutherford Laboratory in Harwell, England. However, he soon realized that his ambition was to study and model people in cities rather than particles in gas chambers. His move to work with a transportation planning research group in Oxford in 1963 would mark the beginning of a long, productive, and impactful career in regional science. Yet, he did not entirely abandon physics: Thermodynamics ended up being a motivation and basis for many of his ideas and innovations, including his signature entropy-based spatial interaction framework. Over the years, Alan Wilson’s “sphere of interest” has remained relatively focused on cities and systems of cities, and, particularly, the modeling of spatial interaction, location activity, and urban evolution. In these areas, he has made significant theoretical and methodological contributions. He has drawn upon and impacted various disciplines and subdisciplines, including some outside the conventional walls of regional science. What is more, Sir Alan Wilson is not just a scientific giant. He has worn many badges in his lifetime: educator, administrator, philanthropist, planner, politician, businessman, and entrepreneur, and in all these roles, he has been highly successful. But, as argued by chapter author Laurie Schintler, Alan Wilson is even more than that: He is also an artist and a philosopher, making him a Renaissance man in regional science.
Laurie A. Schintler
Great Minds in Regional Science, Vol. 2
herausgegeben von
Peter Batey
David Plane
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