Weber's model of industrial location is one of the Locational Triads i.e. Von Thunen's model of agricultural location, Central Place theory of Christaller, and Weber Weber's model of industrial location.
It is a normative theory based on ideal assumptions. In the assumption of isotropic surface, Weber assumed uniformity in terms of terrain and climate. But he acknowledged the possibility that raw materials may not be found everywhere and a possibility that labor may also be concentrated. Accordingly in modified his theory.
The theory had two parts
- Ideal location based on least transportation cost consideration
- Deviations from least transport cost due to labor factors and agglomeration and transportation cost of raw materials and transportation cost of finished goods
Part 1 - Ideal location based on least transportation cost
Case A - One raw material one market
- Raw material is ubiquitous found everywhere - the industry is in market
- Raw materials is fixed and not found everywhere
- Raw material is pure - the industry can be anywhere in between the straight line joining market with raw material source
- Raw material is impure -
- Weber uses a new concept the concept of material index which is the ratio of of the weight of raw material to the weight of finished products
- If MI - greater than 1 it's a weight losing industry search industry will gravitate towards raw material
- If MI - is less than 1 then industry well gravitate towards market. Heavy engineering generally which are those based on ore like like Steel plants copper smelter Agro products are more near the raw material centres where as industry producing FMCG products like appliances computer and industry based on assembly are located near the markets
Case B - There are two raw material and one market
- Both raw materials are ubiquitous
- One is ubiquitous and the other is fixed
- Both raw materials are fixed - Weber used the concept of locational Triangle are weight Triangle - Figure - weight triangle is a triangle Drone with market and two raw material sources as the vertices of triangle the industry will be located within this Triangle but depending on material index and weight gaining or weight losing character of the raw material the industry will gravitate towards either of raw material or towards the market
Example - Steel industry in India
In older Technology - The steel industry required 8 parts of coal and one part of iron ore to produce one part of Steel. Such industries were located near coal because they were coal intensive industries. Example - Bokaro steel plant, Durgapur coal fields, and Rourkela Steel Plant based on Mahanadi Valley coal.
In later Technology - In Bessemer converter, two parts of iron with one part of coal produced one part of Steel. Such plants are located near iron ore resources. Example - Bhadravati steel plant is in the vicinity of Bababudangiri Hills in the iron ore mines of Chikkamagaluru.
Recent policies - Encouraged Mini and micro Steel plants based on scrap Steel. Now, the Steel plants have gravitated towards major urban centers which are the source of scrap steel as raw material inputs. Example - Bhushan Steel and Hisar Steel in the vicinity of Delhi NCR
Example - Industrial regions and agglomerations of the world
Northern Appalachians and lake Erie industrial region - centers like Detroit buffalo Pennsylvania are all based on Northern Appalachian coalfields
Ruhr Westphalia - Ruhr Valley industries like Essex cologne are based on Ruhr Westphalia coalfields of Germany
Mukdem industrial triangle of China - the Manchurian industrial region of China is based on the iron ore of Xinjian region, Hanshan region and Fujian region
Part 2- Deviations from least transport cost
Industries rarely locate themselves exactly at the location of Least Transport Cost. Labor factors and Agglomeration advantage can distort the location
- Labour factor
- Agglomeration advantage
According to Weber certain categories of labor that are highly skilled and traditional craft skilled, are not mobile (But are very localized). In locations away from such labor advantage, either the skill sets of labor is inadequate (because of which quality of production and the economic Returns may be impacted) or because of lack of enough labor, the labor wages may be very high. So, Industries dependent on such labor, shift out of the least transportation cost for savings on the labor. But the industry will not shift indefinitely. But will shift only to that location where the savings of the labor cost doesn't become less than the additional total transportation cost.
Weber used two concepts
Lines joining the same transportation cost. Because the surface is otherwise considered to be isotropic. The Isotims will be regular concentric circles depicting increased transportation costs as we move out from the center.
Isodapanes are lines joining the same total transport cost. Unlike Isotims, Isodapanes are not circular. They can be of any shape but are of closed shape.
According to Weber the Isodapane which depicts the total transportation cost as compensated by the savings on the labor is called the critical Isodapane
In the shift of industry from the least cost location because of labor factors, the shift will only be till critical Isodapane Eg. Switzerland - Precision industry - watch and tools
There are many Global centres which have become anonymous with certain categories of products such as
- Sandalwood - Mysore
- Brass - Moradabad
- Bangles - Firozabad
- Fireworks - Sivakasi
- Switzerland - Precision equipment
- Turin - Automobile designs
- Florence - Glass products
The industries, in trying to reduce their production and infrastructure cost tend to agglomerate away from the least transport cost locations. At agglomeration centers, Industries can use each other's output, tap into the common labor market, or even use the already existing customer base
Weber's theory of location is an economic theory valid in a market-based capitalist system. But in reality, the market process can be weak and can be manipulated for deliberately including industrial location advantage. But such policies distort the condition of perfect competition and hence cannot be accommodated in weber's theory.
In almost all development history of countries and economies, political decisions have tried to include the growth process using the concept of growth centers. A center where an advantage is created if it doesn't exist to induce and encourage industrial development centers. Bongaigaon and Bhilai came up us industrial centers because of such governmental discretions
Previous years questions
- 2019: Distinguish between 'Isodapanes' and 'Isotims'. Critically examine the least cost theory of industrial location given by Alfred Weber.
- 2011: Isodapane in the Theory of Industrial Location. Short notes.
- 1997: Critically examine Alfred Weber's Theory of the Location of Industries
- 1992: Discuss the theories of Industrial location propounded by any two of the following; Weber, Hoover, and Smith.