Economic Geography Glossary



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Decentralization - Deconcentration

Dictionary of Geography

Decentralized Decision-Making

The locus of decision-making is decentralized to the extent to which there are multiple decision-makers involved with their own goals and objectives (utility function) and to the extent to which they follow their own expectations about the developments in the environment including the activities of other actors and competitors.

Decision, decision theory, decision-making

means literally a "cut" between past and future, the creation of a new direction within the emerging historical pattern. A decision is made creative through the freedom which uncertainty provides. Without uncertainty, a decision is "empty". Thus, a decision is, in this sense, not choice between alternatives with already known outcomes or a choice in a game with rigidly prescribed rules. (Shackle, Decision Order and Time) [See also: game theory; uncertainty]

We suggested that "decision theory" deals with the use of probabilities in formal, deductive decision models [see: expected value maximization principle]. Frequently, game theory is considered part (and special case) of decision theory.
"Decision-making" refers to a more managerial perspective and to (inductive) generalizations as to how decisions are actually made... particularly with respect to how information behaviors and processes are interacting with decision-making procedures.

Decision Support Systems (DSS)
"A computer based system that helps the decision maker utilize data and models to solve unstructured problems." (Sprague & Carlson, 1982; quoted after Grimshaw, p.97)

Decision tree

refers to the use of the network-theoretical concept of "tree" to the uncertainty-related structuring of decision options. A tree is a fully connected network without circuits, i.e. every node is connected to every other node, but only once. A decision tree distinguishes between nodes from which decision options branch off (=decision nodes) and nodes which have branches representing "environmental" options, i.e. environmental states which are associated with alternative decisions ("chance nodes" or "environmental nodes") Every branch eventually leads to a "payoff" which, together with the environmental branch - specific probability permits the calculation of an "expected payoff" for each alternative decision and thereby to the selection of (what usually is) the "expected-payoff maximizing decision alternative". [Click also here!]

Deduction (or "deductive reasoning", as different from "induction")

A process of inference which leads from general principles or universal premises via logical reasoning to expectations or conclusions about particular cases. [see also Goodall, pp.114-115]

Demographic Transition

Model of population change based on European experiences. The model describes the effects of changes in fertility and mortality associated with industrialization, urbanization and health care improvements.

Delivered Price

The price which includes freight charges to the location of the buyer.

"Dependent" variable

The variable to be "explained" with the help of "independent variables"; these independent variables serve as the "explanatory" variables; however, the extent to which this relationship or "explanation" actually implies "causality" varies. It may merely refer to a statistical relationship. Thus, the relationship is often expressed as: a dependent variable is a function of one or more "independent" variable(s).
See also:
Dependent vs. independent variables


A decrease in the level and scope of skills within a local/regional labor market resulting from mainly two corporate strategies:(1) mechanization and computerization of production and office activities; (2) truncation of corporate activities within the region. [see Hayter, p.90]

Diameter (of a network)

The smallest number of links needed to connect the two most distant nodes in a network. [a measure needed to identify the solution matrix, i.e. the point in the matrix-analytical calculations when all nodes are directly or indirectly connected to all other points]; see also: Network Measures.

Differential effect (also known as "regional" or "local-factor effect")

In shift & share analysis, that part of the total regional shift which is due to the fact that local/regional industries may develop differently from their counterparts in the larger (usually the national) benchmark region. Thus, these shift effects arise from the fact that some industries in some regions are (relatively) expanding (such as software employment in the Puget Sound area) or contracting more rapidly than the same industries in other regions. For example, an industry which in a region shows a negative proportionality effect but a positive differential effect is a (nationally) stagnating or declining industry which, however, does relatively well regionally, possibly more than compensating for the (a priori) "unfavorable" structure. ( See also proportionality effect).

Diffusion []

Digital divide

Digital Nervous System

"The digital processes that enable a company to perceive and react to its environment, to sense competitive challenges and customer needs, and to organize timely responses." (Gates, Bill, Business @ The Speed of Thought, 1999, p.443; see for more: pp.15-21 & elsewhere)

Diminishing returns [Law of diminishing returns]

A reference to the law which states that additional inputs of a variable factor of production combined with fixed factors of production will eventually lead to a decreasing marginal output. [also:]

Diseconomies of scale, scope or agglomeration

Cost increases or other disadvantages associated with the scale or scope of operation or with the agglomeration of population or economic activities.

"alters the production function without requiring gross investment to carry it into place" (M.D.Thomas, 1975)


Circumventing intermediaries or middlemen from transactions between businesses or between businesses and consumers, now often involving direct digital transactions via 'ecommerce' on the Internet. [But: see Paul Saffro, DisinteREmediation: Longer, Not Shorter, Value Chains Are Coming (1998); [Claims that present technological changes will bring about new forms of intermediation; cites examples from airline industry, credit cards etc.]

Disjointed incrementalism

Decision strategy of "muddling through" by responding to immediate short-term problems in an incremental fashion. Lit: Lindblohm; see also Goodall, p.132

Distance decay

The diminishing level of interaction or value of a variable with increasing distance largely resulting from the effect of various forms of distance-sensitive transaction costs on demand or cost patterns or functions. See also: distance elasticity of demand; gravity model; Lit.: Johnston et al., p.138-9.

"Distance Elasticity of Demand"

The relative response of effective demand to a change in distance (or transport costs) a consumer (or consumers) has (have) to overcome to purchase a good or service at a given (f.o.b.) price.

Distance learning

refers to a learning environment in which teacher (facilitator) and student are separated in space and connected via one or more forms of telecommunication.

Diversification: a regional "diversification" policy or strategy:

1. policy designed to reduce the dependence of a regional economy on specialized types of activities or markets by shifting to a broader range of activities or markets.
2. important concept in the discussion of the advantages and shortcomings of different regional economic structures, incl. specialized and diversified structures.
"Location quotients" can shed some initial light on the degree of diversification of a region's economy. If a region's potential export industries have location quotients close to "1", the region tends to be more diversified than regions which have much higher and much lower location quotients in those industries.


Dynamic randon-access memory (= memory chip)

Dual economy

An economy which is supposed to consist of two relatively distinct parts in terms of specific distinguishing attributes. In the development literature, numerous theories use this proposed dualism to isolate relationships between the two parts which are suggested to reenforce the dualism. Lit.: Johnston, pp.140-3.

Dual labor market

Reference to a segmented labor market in which one part is, usually and in broad terms, characterized by high skills and wages, job security, and desirable working and career development conditions, while the other part has low wages, no or inferior benefits, a temporary or unstable nature, no or little chance of advancement and otherwise poorer working conditions. [see also Hayter, p.294]

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