Economic Geography Glossary



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A high-speed system of connections that forms a large pathway within a network. The term is relative to the size of network it is serving and is now used for the high-capacity, high-speed transmission system between the major nodes (network access points - NAPs and metropolitan area exchanges - MAE) in the Internet Networks. [NAPs: Sprint's New York NAP; Ameritech's Chicago NAP; PacBell's San Francisco NAP; etc.]

Backbone firms

An originally Japanese concept ("chucken" or backbone) used by Nakamura (1990) to describe medium-sized firms which exhibit the effects of strong entrepreneurial leadership and vitality. In such firms, strategies are shaped by technological innovation, marketing and attention given to skilled and participatory workforces. [see Hayter, pp.245-9 and On-Line]

Backhaul transportation

Utilization of otherwise empty cargo space on the return trip after a primary transport activity has taken place. Since the primary transport function may have paid for the partial or full cost of return transportation, the price of backhaul utilization may be relatively low.

Back-office functions

"Record-keeping and analytical functions that do not require frequent personal contact with clients or business associates"; see Know & Agnew, pp.228-30 for a more detailed discussion of present decentralization trends of back-office functions

Backward linkages

Linkages to suppliers of inputs (as different from forward linkages to customers of outputs) part of economic interdependence system; useful concept to differentiate direction of flows in complex economies. [Goodall, p.270 (under "Linkages"); H&I, p.84]

Backwash Effects

Gunnar Myrdal's reference to the negative repercussions of outmigration, flight of capital and deteriorating terms of trade in "unlucky" regions in favor of richer and more progressive regions. (Rich Lands and Poor, 1957 pp.27ff)

Balance of Payments

Systematic presentation and record of the payment side of economic transactions, i.e. the inflows and outflows of payments for a region or country with the rest of the world. This account is usually subdivided into "current account" and "capital account". The major items in the current account are payments for imports and exports of goods and services, and transfer payments. The capital account records international purchases and sales of assets such as stocks, bonds, and land.

Regional balance of payments accounts are scarce. The Bank of Hawaii used to establish such accounts for the state of Hawaii. There are statistics available for the regional distribution of federal tax payments and federal expenditures.


"Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything" [see also LULU & NIMBY]


Volume of data that a communications system can transmit or process.

Basic/Non-Basic: Economic base model and theory | Basic/Nonbasic Resource Page(s)

Basing-point pricing

A pricing method under which prices are quoted to include transportation from one (or more) given point(s) [= single or multiple basing point system] regardless of the location from which actual shipment is made. Pricing based on distances between designated basing points and customers regardless of where the actual origin of the product might be. [see also Hayter, pp.167-8.]

Bayes, Thomas

(b. 1702, London - d. 1761, Tunbridge Wells, Kent), "mathematician who first used probability inductively and established a mathematical basis for probability inference (a means of calculating, from the number of times an event has not occurred, the probability that it will occur in future trials)...." For more: || Resource Page


Developed to provide a subjectively- rational framework for decision-making under uncertainty. A frequently recommended approach for decisions involving 'unique', non-repetitive decision- situations such as manufacturing location decisions or the selection of R & D projects. (Kay, 1979, p.39) || Resource Page

Behavioral environment

(of a firm or organization) consists of that part of the "objective" environment defined by the firm's operating location(s) with associated communities and by the various functional linkages to suppliers, customers, governments, consumers and other (inter)active stakeholders. [see also Hayter, pp. 140-1]

"Behavioral Matrix" [Alan Pred, 1967 (Vol.I)]

1. Addresses the role of information use in behavioral approaches to location (following mainly H.A.Simon's concept of Bounded Rationality 2. Differentiates the amount of information available from the ability to use information [Healey & Ilbery, p.24; Hayter, p. 140-3.]


Setting reference points or standards by which behaviors or developments can be measured at a point in time or over time; a practical tool for improving performance by learning from best practices and the processes by which they are achieved. [Benchmarking in Europe]

Beta index (in network analysis):

The ratio between the number of links (edges) and the number of nodes in a network. [= a (very simple!) measure of network connectivity]

Bid price (or rent) function (or curve) (William Alonso)

A set of combinations of land prices and distances among which the individual (or firm) is indifferent; describes prices that the household (firm) would be willing to pay at varying locations and for varying amounts of land, in order to achieve a given level of satisfaction (utility/ profits). Bid price functions represent hybrid combinations of indifference surfaces and budget constraints. Indifference curves are based on substitutions which include the quantity of land (for which bid prices are determined). Producers (or consumers) are then expected to purchase (equilibrium quantities of) land at that location where the price difference between the higher bid price and the actual market price creates the highest additional profit (utility), in other words, where the lower market price permits the producer (consumer) to reach her/his lowest possible bid price curve. If market prices turn out to be higher than the producer's (consumer's) initially contemplated bid price function, then adjustments in profit / utility expectations have to occur in order to accommodate the higher market prices, i.e. he/she will have to find an optimal point on a higher (less desirable) bid price curve. [For More Click Here!]

Birth Rate

see: Fertility Rates

Boolean operator

reference to the three search rules: "AND", "OR" & "NOT"; derived from Boolean Logic referring to the logical relationship among search terms (named after the British mathematician George Boole). More Details (click here!)


"The capacity of the human mind for formulating and solving complex problems is very small compared with the size of the problems whose solution is required for objectively rational behavior in the real world -- or even for a reasonable approximation to such objective rationality." . [See also: Hayter, p.138 and Simon's rationality concepts]
Bounded Rationality: A Response to Rational Analysis.


The Base Closure and Realignment Commission. The Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) recommended military bases for closure in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995. [David E. Lockwood, RL30051: Military Base Closures: Time for Another Round? Congressional Research Service, Report for Congress, Updated March 7, 2001 ]


The development of the identity of a product through name selection and related marketing strategies, involving consideration of Nomenclature Strategy, Name Creation or Brand Extension, Trademark Screening, Target Audience Market, ·Graphical Elements, etc.. Lexicon Branding

Break-of-bulk point

The location (usually a port) where a shipment is divided into parts. This usually (such as at the port) happens where a transfer of the shipment between transport modes occurs, such as between water and land at a port.


Abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination; as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA 500-F-98-001, 1999).


Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow" disease, appeared first in British cattle in the mid-1980s. Animals there were slaughtered on a massive scale. BSE is believed to be the transmitter of a human form of the degenerative illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The Continent banned imports of British beef, However, in the meantime, BSE has turned up in cattle in France and Germany.


"refers to the act of putting together partially completed or finished pieces of a software product during the development process to see what functions work and what problems exist." (p.12)
"Doing daily builds gives rapid feedback to the project team about the product is progressing.... You always take a snapshot every day; it does not matter what happens... A weekly build gets taken come hell or high water, even if you know that the build two weeks behind the current one is still not stable..." (Cusumano & Selby, MS Secrets, p.268)

Bundles and bundling

Concepts used by Hägerstrand to refer to the needs of people and goods to "travel" together in daily time-space prisms (in bundles) such as in meetings or on public buses (see also "coupling constraints")


term used by software companies to refer to the trend in Microsoft and other PC software firms "to bundle together multiple products into a smaller number of unified or integrated product offerings." (Cusumano & Selby, MS Secrets, p.444)

Business climate

An often used, nevertheless rather ambiguous concept referring to a collection of (often themselves rather non-tangible) location factors directly or indirectly expressing the general or governmental attitudes toward business and/or various local qualities or attributes which affect business operations, such as taxes ("tax climate"), labor costs, union activities, utilities, and business representation in local decision-making. [see also Hayter, p.85]

Business services

Services which are forwardly linked to other business activities. Such services tend to perform functions which are more efficiently "externalized" by the client firms, i.e. cannot be efficiently performed in-house. Examples include banking, insurance, possibly also marketing, recruitment or the development of Web pages.

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