Geography 207 (Winter 2001)

Early In-Class Examination (Midterm I)

Total Points: 40 + Bonus
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Select two of the following questions for well-structured and articulated answers: (20 minutes each; take a few minutes to outline your statement)

Do not hesitate to use concepts heard in class and or read about in your readings (There are points to be had!). If in doubt, do provide a brief definition for all terms which have been relatively new to you or whenever you want to avoid misunderstandings (Your instructor is prone to misunderstandings whenever your writing includes ambiguously applied terms)

  1. If all economic activities would be entirely "footloose", would there be still a need for locational analysis as part of economic geography? After we spent so much time on the concept of "footlooseness" in class, I expected that you all would be able at least to define the concept (see Glossary).

    Total footlooseness -- while impossible in the real world -- nevertheless permits interesting deductions. Our typical location models would "collapse" since transport costs no longer play a role. If we stretch the concept to exclude all other location factors, then locational analysis may become the science of randomly throwing darts at a map or of understanding entrepreneurial whim or of Freudian attempts by local or regional politicians to influence the location decision through psycho-neurotic stimuli. Location decisions are still made and one would be permitted to assume that they still have an impact on the local economy.

  2. Before you come up with your own opinion (which you may!) argue (with as much balance as you can muster) for and against "globalization of the World economy". The shortest question is not always the easiest. In fact, it typically demands more from you, since it provides relatively little structure. It will be up to you to provide this structure. "Globalization" is, of course, a terribly general concept and is simply demands "disaggregation" and "differentiation". "Globalization is bad", as some of you have suggested, does not get us very far since, in the little time you had, you cannot come up with more justifications than general assertions: there simply is no time for providing evidence or deductive reasons at this general level. Almost the same applies for the minimal differentiation which I provided by dividing your arguments into pros and cons. To say something meaningful in favor (or against) globalization, you might want to restrict your arguments explicitly to the "economic" and thereby exclude the "cultural" realm. The next step might be to zero in on multi-national firms and their operations in Third-World countries. Now, we might be able to come up with a number of fairly specific arguments for and against and with examples for the conditions under which such operations may be beneficial or detrimental for a host countries or certain groups in such countries.
    A next-to-final sentence might identify some other economic pros and cons while the final sentence might be reserved to a statement as to how these (differentiated) economic impacts might interact with non-economic (e.g. cultural) factors. This would make it possible to return to a more general level.

    One more comment: It usually is a poor idea to start with an example before you have a chance to spell out in sufficient, well-structured detail what this example is an example for. Such an approach encourages you to pursue a "case study" without providing the basis for making any generalization. Thus, you tend to become "stuck" with the limitations of your example. One attractive exception to this rule which I found in one of your answers was a "preamble-type" example which served well "to get into the mood", but did not form a rigid basis for the relatively independent subsequent analysis. The problem in a 20-minute situation is, of course, that you are unlikely to have the time to spend on preambles.

  3. Explain and compare the concepts of "ubiquitous" raw material or markets and "localized" raw materials or markets in the context of Weber's "locational triangle" as applied (not to industrial location, but) by analogy to residential location choices. The question aims at your ability to translate the basic Weber model into the residential context. Thus a household would need to be able to identify at least three important reference points (e.g. location of jobs and grandparents) which are the basis for the location triangle exerting localized "pulls", while "ubiquitous" inputs might be represented by all those household destinations (shops, schools, churches) which are sufficiently homogeneous and spatially well distributed not to have major influences on the location decision, since they can be selected after the location decision has been made. To formulate the strict Weber model (without the possibility of substitution), the nature and size of the "pull" (e.g. the number of trips to the corner locations, time spent for these trips, cost of time etc.) would have to be known before the equilibrium location can be found.

  4. Identify and explain the most important location principles ("space-differentiating forces") for kitchen utensils in an efficiently organized kitchen with limited space around the most central and heavily used work area. As part of your answer to question #4, please also address briefly one of the following two questions:
      1. Please use the kitchen example to explain the difference in the uses of the concept of "intensity", namely between
          1. the "intensity" of use of scarce kitchen space
          2. the space- "intensity" of any one utensil
      2. Or: How might your (kitchen) spatial organization principles apply to the organization of a city around the central business district (CBD)?
    1. Space intensity of the utensil (how much space it uses which is then unavailable for other uses
    2. "Transport costs"
      1. weight, bulkiness, awkwardness to carry etc.
      2. frequency of use
      3. how easy is it to carry the utensil in one hand and another gadget in the other hand (= savings in transport costs, since we do have two hands)
      4. "backhauling" efficiency: would it be possible to carry another gadget in the opposite direction when trying to reach the primary utensil
    3. Interdependencies between foods or utensils giving rise to benefits or "diseconomies" in storing them in relative proximity (including those leading to savings in transportation, see "c" above..

Bonus Questions:

  1. What is the typical monthly trade surplus (or deficit?) of the United States (e.g. that of November 2000, the latest information available). How many zeros does your number have? Is it a surplus or a deficit?

  2. All those of you who have identified (even if only tentatively) your local "project organization" and your "topic" already, you will receive an automatic bonus. Those of you who have not done so, here is your chance: (a) organization; (b) topic; (c) tentative relationship between a and b (unless that is obvious).