Economic Geography Glossary



A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

- C -


Central American Common Market. Founded in 1960, preceded by Organization of Central American States (since 1951). It remains a preferential trade area... customs union is still intended (no "Common Market")

CAD = Computer-assisted design (see Hayter p.33 for more)

Capability Constraints

Constraints on human activities in time and space imposed by nature (e.g. biological requirements of sleep) or available tools. Part of Hägerstrand's time-geographic conceptualization.


Dual meaning:
  1. Monetary Capital: Money used (or to be used) for investment purposes
  2. Real or Invested Capital: Capital goods (machines and production- & distribution infrastructure) needed for the production of goods and services.


Set of ideas about the internal workings of firms developed by Herbert Simon, his colleagues, and those who were at one time or another at Carnegie-Mellon University) who were influenced by his ideas. A major concern of many of these writers is is organization theory and the analysis of a variety of intra-organizational problems. (Cohen, Cyert, March etc.)

Carrying capacity []

Central Business District (CBD) [Oxford Dictionary]

Central place

The focus of central place theory; a central place is a market center supplying a hinterland with goods and services. The size of the hinterland and the order of the goods and services provided determine the economic base of the central place and thereby its size and economic structure.

Central place theory

A body of theory associated with the names Walter Christaller, August Lösch and others, suggesting specific hierarchical explanations (anchored in micro-economic demand and production theory) for the organization of economic landscapes of cities, towns and market areas. [Also: Dictionary of Geography]

Centripetal forces [Oxford Dictionary] [See also: Charles Colby's discussion of centripetal & centrifugal forces (1933)

Cessation closure

A form of plant closure which is based on the decision by a firm to abandon an activity/activity mix or the production of a specific product or product mix (as different from a "selective closure"). In more complex situations, several plants may be closed in the context of such an abandonment. [See Watts & Stafford, 1986, p.211; Stafford & Watts, 1991, p.428; Krumme, G., "Anticipating Plant Closures..."]

ceteris paribus

(Latin) One variable is allowed to change while all other variables (are assumed to) remain constant ("all other things equal")


One of a small number of very large, highly diversified and centralized Korean firms owned and controlled by the founding patriarch's family through a central holding company. [Dicken, Global Shift, p.133]
Also see: "THE CHAEBOL OF SOUTH KOREA" [T.Watkins]

Chains of opportunity

"Locally contained 'chains of opportunity' may be called into being whereby new employment roles are filled by already locally employed individuals who switch jobs, only to have their newly abandoned roles filled by other already locally employed individuals, who in turn have their newly abandoned roles filled by yet other locally employed individuals, and so on until a population-system member who is not currently employed assumes an abandoned role...." (A.Pred, City Systems in Advanced Economies, 1977, p.29)

Choropleth maps

maps, in which each spatial unit is filled with a uniform color or pattern. They are appropriate for data that have been scaled or normalized. For example, economic geographers may apply a spatial perspective to economic data using such maps. A choropleth map may show per-capita GDP differences between areas.

Walter Christaller

German Central Place Theorist (Book published in 1933 on Central Places in Southern Germany)

CIF pricing

c.i.f. Cost, Insurance & Freight to destination included in price quoted. Price is quoted as to include shipping charges [this pricing strategy is often associated with uniform prices, i.e. prices that do not reflect the differences in transport cost between alternative destinations]


A description of a network with one or more loops [creating alternative paths between nodes and thereby network redundancy]

Closed I/O model (or "closing" the model)

An input-output model is either open or closed with respect to certain sectors or activities, i.e. such activities either remain "exogenous" to the model or are made "endogenous". For example, "(household-) induced effects" can be identified via I/O tables only if households are incorporated into the direct coefficient table as a column often called PCE (Personal consumption expenditures). Thus, the table would be closed with respect to the household sector. Other sectors which may be subject to closure in regional input-output analyses are, for example, state and local government activities and investments (for the identification of long-run multipliers).


A concept closely associated with the work of Michael Porter who defines a "cluster" as a geographically proximate group or geographic concentration of "interconnected companies, specialized suppliers and service providers, firms in related industries, and associated institutions (e.g. universities, standards agencies and trade associations) in particular fields that compete but also cooperate... (and that are) linked by commonalities and complementarities. The geographic scope of a cluster can range from a single city or state to a country or even a group of neighboring countries.


"Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area" ( = An area that meets the requirements for recognition as a "Metropolitan Statistical Area" (MSA) and also has a population of one million or more may be recognized as a CMSA if:
  • separate component areas can be identified within the entire area by meeting statistical criteria specified in the standards, and
  • local opinion indicates there is support for the component areas.
If recognized, the component areas are designated "Primary Metropolitan Statistical Areas" (PMSAs), and the entire area becomes a CMSA. PMSAs, like the CMSAs that contain them, are composed of entire counties, except in New England where they are composed of cities and towns. [As of the June 30, 1999 OMB announcement, there were 258 MSAs, and 18 CMSAs comprising 73 PMSAs in the United States.] [For more, see

Cobb-Douglas Production Function

Cobb-Douglas functional forms

Coefficient of Localization

A simple method of determining the extent to which an industry is localized compared with the spatial (multi-regional) distribution of all (or at least a larger set of) economic activities. The coefficient is calculated by subtracting for each region the percentage employment share of the industry in question from the total regional employment share (the region's share of national employment in all activities). The sum of the positive (or the negative, not both) deviations, divided by 100 represents the coefficient (potentially varying between 0 and 1).

Coefficient of Specialization [see Hayter, p.435]

This coefficient is calculated just like the coefficient of localization, except that regions become industries and industries become regions. [see for a comparison between the two coefficients]


A group of persons experiencing the same event (such as their own birth) during the same period of time (such a calendar year) [= birth cohort]. Cohort analysis traces those persons born during the same time period as they age and live through common time-specific experiences and life stages [such as retirement, i.e. belonging to specific age groups at any one point in time]. Among the most important experiences of an aging cohort are the cohort birth rates and cohort death rates. "These cohort rates are not the same as the age-specific rates calculated from the experience recorded within one calendar year, the so-called period rates. In particular, social change will be reflected differently by the cohort rates than by the period rates." (James Beshers, Population Processes in Social Systems, p.191)

Cohort-survival population projection technique

It has frequently been suggested that certain preferences or behaviors (e.g. consumption behaviors which are of interest to marketing specialists) can be divided into those associated with membership in a birth (or other specific event-) cohort and those which are a function of age or lifestage.

The Commons

A shared resource. Air and water are frequently used examples.
[See; also: Tragedy of the Commons]

Community Reinvestment Act

C R A [GIS software for CRA compliance]

Comparative advantage (Ricardo) [Ricardo, Ch.7 "On Foreign Trade"]

Competitive Advantage [Michael Porter]

Complementarity (in E.L.Ullman's conceptualization)

Refers to both, the similarities and the differences (between regions or countries) needed to bring about interaction. Regions have to be sufficiently similar with respect to cultural and other facets to be able to engage in the kind of communication needed for interaction. Differences are needed to create the basis for exchange, e.g., there has to be a supply in one and a demand in the other region. [See also: Goodall, Dictionary of Human Geography, pp.84/5]

Complexity [What might Economic Geographers mean by 'complexity' in the description of the 'real world'?]

We might refer to various attributes of complex environments, including
  1. size of a whole (market, population) or number of components,
  2. unevenness in the (e.g. spatial) distribution or the diversity of component parts,
  3. indirectness of the linkages between economic actors (lack of direct contact or visibility),
  4. variability of capacity of individual links or systems of linkages (networks) connecting our actor to other actors
  5. inter-connectedness of components or nodes within a firm's environment (possibly giving rise to hostile collusion).


(A.Marshall, 1890/1936, pp.453-4 and 626) = A quasi rent is the excess above the return necessary to maintain a resource's current service flow, which can be the means to recover sunk costs. Composite quasi- rent is that portion of the quasi- rent of resources that depends on continued association with some other specific, currently associated resources. Thus composite quasi rent is the amount those other currently associated resources could attempt to expropriate by refusing to pay or serve, that is by 'holdup'. (JEL March 1988, p.67)


a word or group of words that summarizes or classifies certain facts, events or ideas into one category. Concepts are labels or categories, or selected properties of objects. They are the bricks from which theories are constructed. Theories are constructed by linking concepts representing different attributes or belonging to different classes and by developing sets of interrelated statements concerning the relationship(s) between such concepts.

Conceptual Framework for Economic Geography

the structure which serves to hold the conceptual parts (concepts) together and within which the ideas, facts, principles, insights and circumstances of Economic Geography exist and are related to each other.

Concurrancy Management System

The [King County (WA)] Transportation Concurrency Management System provides for the requirement that transportation system improvements be made concurrently with the completion of development.


A aggregate measure of the extent to which the nodes of a network are linked (directly or indirectly) to other nodes. Connectivity always refers to characteristics of a whole network, not to those of a single node (see accessibility)


someone who assembles information, creates a knowledge base and provides professional advise relating to a problem of an individual, group or organization on a volunteer basis or for remuneration. Consulting Resources

Consumer surplus [ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, value & utility]

CONTINGENCY THEORY (of organizational structure and behavior)

regards the design of an effective organization as necessarily having to be adapted to cope with the 'contingencies' which derive from the circumstances of environment, technology, scale, resources, work task and other factors. (Child/Ranson et al.)
Contingency theory is "concerned with understanding the interdependent relationship among organizational effectiveness , the internal characteristics of the organization , and the nature of the organization's work." (J.W. Lorsch & J.J. Morse, Organizations and their Members, 1974, p.2)

Coordinates - Cartesian Coordinates



reference to bilateral international trading relationships between companies.

Countervailing power

J.K.Galbraith' thesis (American Capitalism, 1957) of the tendency of market (monopoly) power to be reduced by the emergence of countervailing groups and forces. The thesis has been criticized.... There are many centers of power which are not balanced by countervailing power. Also: Opposing powers may not necessarily be countervailing and lead to public welfare benefits.

Coupling constraints (Torsten Hägerstrand)

Reference to the need to join with other people, organizations or capital investments (as "bundles") to accomplish an objective (e.g. to have to rely on a bus and a freeway to reach a destination) [Goodall, pp.102-103]

Critical isodapane

[ = that isodapane (out of the family of isodapanes [see Goodall, p.247; H&I, p.21] which signifies the outer limit for alternative locations (alternative to the location with minimum aggregate transport costs) in a Weberian locational triangle or other polygon. Its specification is dependent on the savings (labor cost, scale- or agglomeration economies) associated with such an alternative; beyond the critical isodapane, savings are not sufficient to compensate for the additional transport costs. The concept has been used (notably by Walter Isard) to delineate "joint action (or negotiation) spaces" within which potentially competing actors (such as communities or entrepreneurs) with their own objective functions might find locational common ground for collaboration (joint project or agglomeration) where the benefits (scale or agglomeration economies) would outweigh the additional transport costs. [see also Isodapane and Alfred Weber]

Cross-leveling of Knowledge

"Organizational knowledge creation is a never-ending process that upgrades itself continuously."... Any "new concept which has been created, justified, and modeled, moves on to a new cycle of knowledge creation at a different ontological level. This interaction and spiral process... takes place both intra-organizationally and interorganizationally." (Nonaka & Takeuchi, The Knowledge-Creating Company, p.88)

Cross-sectional (analysis) []


used to encode information to conceal secret messages from unauthorized parties; it has traditionally been used for military and national security purposes. Cryptography makes use of algorithms to transform data which then cannot be retrieved unless one has access to the cryptographic key. The main issue relates to the concern of governments that the commercial use of cryptography will undermine their ability to protect public safety and national security. [OECD: Electronic Commerce, 1997, p.55]

Cumulative causation

A self-reinforcing process during which impulses activate positive feedback leading to further growth, decline or other kinds of change with the same direction as the original impulse. Thus, agglomeration effects, for example, may lead to further agglomeration and thereby to a continuing increase in advantages (to some people or activities) and disadvantages (to others).

Curvilinear function (freight rates, freight costs, production costs etc.)

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Return to Econ & Bus Geog || Glossaries
1999/2001 []