Economic Geography Glossary



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Pareto-optimal || Or here!

Partial equilibrium

As applied to locational analysis, an equilibrium represents a balance among interdependent location forces. A "partial" (as different from general) equilibrium theory of location focuses on just one or a few selected relationships (e.g. between locational access and effective demand) excluding other (potentially important or unimportant) relationships by appropriate assumptions.

Path dependency

Reference to effects of past commitments or acquired knowledge on subsequent actions and decisions. Recognizing that "history matters" for a future course of action or development, such past commitments or learning activities could entail previous investments, e.g. in transaction-specific assets, contracts, research & development, or the pool of (usually locally) learned behaviors and organizational routines which constrain (including spatially) future activities.
More! [Bergman & Feser]

Pathologies in large-scale distributed knowledge systems
"such as: malicious agents, viruses, overload, "knowledge storms"." (NSF 1998 Website on "Knowledge Networking") [these pathologies are part of "Processes and Dynamics of Distributed Intelligence"]

"Pittsburgh Plus"

a form of spatial price discrimination based on oligopolistic collusion. The mill price at one location determines the delivered price at all locations regardless of the plant from which delivery is actually made.


Portable Document Format (Download from Adobe an Acrobat Reader)

Pecuniary external economies

(as different from technological external economies, a distinction made by Tibor Scitovsky in "Two Concepts of External Economies", Journ of Pol. Economy, April 1954). Pecuniary benefits result from price changes in response to market forces.

Pedagogy (pedagogical)

The study and science of teaching and teaching methods

Performance zoning

"Performance zoning represents an alternative to traditional zoning. It provides greater flexibility by requiring that any development meet specified performance standards, rather than meeting detailed requirements as to allowed uses and the characteristics of those uses. The flexibility allowed by performance zoning should allow greater opportunity for market forces to affect land use and thus provide for greater economic efficiency." (Ottensmann)

Periodic market

Markets which meet at designated locations in periodic intervals. The periodicity tends to be fixed and (as has been frequently suggested) is based on the traders' need to tap a large market in order fulfill threshold conditions and the consumers' unwillingness/ inability to travel long distances and bridge the intervals between market days. [See Stutz, pp.329-31] [Oxford Dictionary]

Personal Mastery

One of Senge's 5 principles for the learning organization: "learning to expand our personal capacity to create the results we most desire, and creating an organizational environment which encourages all its members to develop themselves toward the goals and purposes they choose." (Senge et al., Fieldbook, p.6)


Workers arbitrarily classified as "temporary" by employers while they perform regular jobs and work over extended periods of time with other workers who are given regular employee status. "Permatemps" tend to receive lower wages and less benefits. Microsoft is often thought to be the prime "employer" of permatemps.

Pessimum distance

Reference to the (possibly) disadvantageous location of a smaller city relative to a larger one. Von Boeventer (1969) suggested that at this distance, "agglomeration economies have virtually disappeared and positive hinterland effects are not very strong yet." (Papers, RSA 23, p.55)

Phenomenology []

Pittsburgh Plus

A form of spatial price discrimination based on oligopolistic collusion. The mill price at one location determines the delivered price at all locations regardless of the location of the plant from which delivery is actually made. (was used in the marketing of steel in the United States) [see also Basing Points]


A relatively small part of geographical space occupied by a person or small segment of society. Often, "place" is used to signify certain relationships or ties between people and this specific space.

How do geographers study places? (Colorado)

Place utility

The utility (benefits, satisfaction) associated with or derived from the attributes of a place or location (see Goodall, p.355 for more)

Planar (or nonplanar) network

Planned unit development (or PUD)

"a land development project comprehensively planned as an entity via a unitary site plan which permits flexibility in building siting, mixtures of housing types and land uses, usable open spaces, and the preservation of significant natural features."


(Alchian & Woodward) "we call resources and investments "plastic" to indicate that there is a wide range of discretionary, legitimate decisions within which the user may choose." [JEL March 88, p.69] [Webster/Oxford: power to adapt itself to altered circumstances; capacity for being molded or undergoing a permanent change in shape; ability to vary in development; ductility and malleability are closely related [a more general term than footlooseness? (= locational plasticity?) but of course also: locational adaptability)] Thus: (1) (rel. large) range of choices (2) (rel. great) ability to adapt (Term also used by A.Marshall, see page heading pp.533/ 535)

PMSA [= see CMSA]

Political economy

Population density

Population within an areal unit (usually one square kilometer or square mile)

Population pyramids


A Web site that has become an individual's primary entry point to the Internet.

Positivism (Encyclopaedia Britannica) || [also:] [Oxford Dictionary]


A still tenuous attempt to lend identity to a new era beginning in the early 1970s which is associated with changes from and reaction to certain attributes of modernity or modernism. Major foci of postmodern critical theory and research have been on "place" and "locality" as well as a post-marxist rehabilitation of space. [Johnston, pp.466-8, Soya (1989) Postmodern Geographies, Barnes (1996) Logics of Dislocation] || [Also:]

Power (Macht) (see Website)

Price elasticity of demand

Change in the quantity demanded of a good or service in response to a change in price Primary sector A generally accepted reference to agricultural and livestock production, fishing, hunting and forestry (at times also including mineral extraction)

Primate city

A country's leading city (economically, culturally & politically) disproportionately larger than the next largest ones in the country's city size distribution. The law of the primate city was first suggested by M.Jefferson and been one of the earliest generalizations of city size distributions. (Goodall, p.375)

Prisoners' Dilemma

A decision situation which illustrates the benefits of cooperation or collective action but also the difficulty of arriving at such an outcome. The decision payoffs are structured so that it is individually beneficial not to collaborate (with the fellow prisoner) even though collaboration by both would yield acceptable outcomes (and clearly better than if both defect). Each prisoner feels that she has to defect due to the uncertainty about the "partner's" action. More specifically:
				    Prisoner II's Actions     I's Worst
					C     |    D	   |   Outcome
		Collaboration (C)     +1, +1  |  -2, +2    |    -2
Prisoner                            -----------------------------------
I's Actions     Defection     (D)     +2, -2  |  -1, -1    |    -1

				    Prisoner II's Actions
					C     |    D	   |  I's Worst
		Collaboration (C)     R, R    |   S, T     |     S
Prisoner                            -----------------------------------
I's Actions     Defection     (D)     T, S    |   P, P     |     P

A Prisoners' Dilemma situation requires that the following conditions be
				S < P < R < T  
				2R > S + T

	R = Reward (for collaboration) 
	T = Temptation (to defect and get away with it)
	S = Sucker's payoff (was taken in)
	P = Punishment (both defect)
Geographic application: (Hotelling model, importantly with some distance elasticity of demand; initial configuration: Both duopolists are located at center)
R = Private benefits from moving to Hotelling's quartile locations (which also happens to be socially more desirable)
T = Benefits from not moving from Center while partner moves (expansion of market share)
S = Loss from having moved while partner stays in center. Partner gains a permanent competitive advantage.
P = Both stay in the center and have to share the distance-elastic demand

The problem can be reformulated so that "collaboration" might imply benefits from togetherness due to a variety of substantial agglomeration economies. However, if only one moves to this potential agglomeration location (e.g. shopping center), she will lose her former clients (and is now stuck at an individually inferior location) without gaining from the expected external benefits. The non-moving competitor is not just saving relocation costs but also gains a competitive advantage by expanding her market into the vacated market area.


The likelihood or chance that a certain event will occur. Probabilities may be based on "objective" statistical (frequency-of- occurrence procedures) or on subjective procedures and personal beliefs. In Bayesian analysis, a distinction is made between "prior" (before... ) and "posterior" probabilities (after specific additional information had a chance to change the prior beliefs or estimations).

Procedural rationality (H.A.Simon)

"Product (Life-) Cycle"

associated with observed regularities in the way in which the production and marketing of products change during the life of a product and thereby change their interaction with and demands on their environment... from innovation through mass production and mass marketing to decline and replacement. One of the consequences tends to be that locational requirements change as the product moves through its life stages.
This notion of a "product life cycle should not be confused with the life and death of an individual, material product. What the "product life cycle" concept refers to is the the birth, life and death of a type of product, such the hoolahoop or the teletubbies or the transistor or the Boeing 707. At their birth, products need "research", "development" i.e. creative inputs, then they are mass-produced (need capital and assembly lines) etc. etc. Over the life cycle you also see different & changing marketing efforts and consumption patterns. All that has ENORMOUS consequences for the environments in which the products are developed, produced, marketed and consumed (and recycled!) in terms of input requirements, related employment patterns, information needs, environmental repercussions, and a lot more.

In general, we talk less about the specific product but its "species". Thus, the overall age of the 707 is greater than (probably) the oldest specific 707 (which is probably scrapped or has crashed by now). The reverse analogy to the human population might be to look at the "species" of the "baby-boomers" which has affected and continues to affect different economic sectors, parts of the labor market, parts of the country etc. differently (Will they soon all retire in Florida or Arizona? Or will they be "recycled" as teachers, RSVP Volunteers etc.?).
Lit.: Dicken, Global Shift, 1998, p.161-2 + 183-4; Hayter, pp.100-1.
See also Table: Locational Implications of the Product Cycle

Product Localization

Modifying and adapting foreign-made products/services to render them suitable for a new market.

Production function

a technical relationship identifying the maximum output or combination of outputs (products) capable of being produced by a specified input or combinations of inputs (factors of production). In economic geography and specifically location theory, it has been stressed that any degree of substitutability between inputs might necessitate determining optimal input combinations and optimal levels of output at the same time as the location is determined. Such a more complex analysis differs from the assumptions which are underlying Weber's industrial location model (which assumes a fixed-factor, linear production function).

Profit center

semiautonomous, independently accounting corporate unit responsible for its own operations, profits and losses [A. Toffler, Power Shift, p.198]
production function |]

Production possibility (-ies) curve

Points describing alternative combinations of output levels for two different products to be produced by given resources. At the macro level, the curve describes "a schedule of trade-offs for a two commodity society".(Stutz, p.38)


A measure of the outcome or output of an activity relative to the factor inputs utilized by that activity. The concept is often used as an equivalent to "labor productivity" where the output is related exclusively to the labor input.

For the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, labor productivity is a statistical measure and economic indicator. It is defined as "real output per labor hours worked." This measure is not available at the sub-national level. Thus:

  • Worker productivity: ("real gross state output per nonfarm worker") was developed for analyses at the state level.

Propensity to consume locally

"pcl" = the proportion of local income spent locally. See "Simple Model".

Proportionality effect (also known as industry-mix effect)

In shift & share analysis, that part of the total 'regional shift' which is attributable to the (compositional) structure ("mix" of activities) of the region in combination with the general, usually national development of individual industries. Proportionality shifts or effects arise from the fact that, at the national level, some sectors grow (or decline) faster than others. As a result, regions specializing in (nationally) fast growing ("growth") industries will be subject to a positive proportionality shift (regardless how the industry actually does regionally), while regions specializing in slow-growing or declining industries (industries which grow, at the national level, slower than the all-industry average) will record a negative proportionality effect. The proportionality effect and the "differential" effect together make up the total shift. [More!]


A reference to the "reunification of producers and consumers". "Producer and consumer, divorced by the industrial revolution, are reunited in the cycle of wealth creation, with the customer contributing not just money but market and design information vital for the production process." (A. Toffler, Power Shift, 1990, p.233) Throughout industry,..., customers are being drawn into the design process, and users' groups are organized into networks of support for the products. The line between production and consumption is blurring." (p.310)

Protean places

Expression used by A.Saxenian (1994) to describe the capacity of certain regional industrial systems to adapt and change. [Cohen & Fields (1998)]

Public good

A good or service which, due to its non-marketable nature, is supplied by governments or by nature. It cannot be sold on any market on an individual or subdivided basis. In their purest form, public goods can be supplied to (or consumed by) any one person without affecting the supply to (or consumption by) all other persons.

push-pull factors

Push factors act to drive people or goods and services away from a place whereas pull factors draw them to a new location.

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