Economic Geography Glossary



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Tacit knowledge

A reference to types of knowledge which cannot be stated explicitly and therefore cannot be easily communicated and transferred. It therefore contrasts with "codified" or "explicit" knowledge. Personal skills are frequently cited as an important example of tacit knowledge.


Those elements or inputs in an organization's environment which bear potentially on goal setting and on goal attainment within an organization . [William Dill, 1962]

Tax Increment Financing

is used to facilitate the financing of larger development projects by capturing the property tax revenue stream projected for the development and investing it into improvements associated with the project. [More:]


"any group of people who need each other to accomplish a result" Senge, The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, p.354

Team Learning

One of Senge's five learning disciplines for his "learning organization": transforming conversational and collective thinking skills, so that groups of people can reliably develop intelligence and ability greater than the sum of individual members' talents." (Senge et al., Fieldbook, p.6)

Technical coefficient

In input-output analysis, identifies the percentage or portion of the total inputs of a sector required to be purchased from another sector irrespective of the geographic origin of this purchase. Technical (input) coefficients represent direct backward linkages of an industry to other industries and constitute the "recipe" for production of that industry. See also regional coefficient.


A concept of varying breadth. In its broadest form, technology refers to knowledge of intermediating procedures of all complexities, including procedures involving everyday life, manufacturing, transportation and communication processes, as well as the organization and management of such procedures. An important function of technology is the leveraging of manpower and brainpower. [See also Malecki, Technology & Economic Development, 1997, p.5]

Technology Multipliers
Certain "classes of technological innovation can induce a matrix of change and progress in other sectors that are thousand times the Keynesian multipliers of the investment in the original innovation... Relatively tiny investments in innovating the first microprocessors, radios, spreadsheets, hybrid corns, personal computers (PCs), antibiotics, the Internet, and scientific selective breeding have created economic multipliers millions of times greater than their original investments." (Quinn et al., Innovation Explosion, p.37)

Model and a pattern of solution of selected technological problems, based on selected principles derived from natural sciences and on selected material technologies (Dosi/Thomas); also used: "technological regime" (Nelson & Winter); "technological imperatives" (Rosenberg);

The movement of multi- dimensional trade-offs among technological variables that the paradigm defines as relevant. Progress can be defined as an improvement of these trade-offs. One could imagine the trajectory as a 'cylinder' in a multidimensional space (Dosi); or: a pattern of "normal " problem- solving activity within a technological paradigm . (Thomas) Individual firms tend to have their own PATHWAY within this aggregate trajectory (Thomas); "natural trajectory" Nelson and Winter, 1982; "focussing device", Rosenberg, 1982.

A state in which firms may find themselves "whose technology has begun to be constrained by its practical limits and whose rate of economic performance consequently begins to slow down. Such firms, if they focus their R&D activities completely on improving the performance of current technology, may face disaster. . . " (Thomas)

Technology-based industry

Defined in a report by the Washington Technology Alliance as an industry "with at least 10% of its employment in occupations defined by the National Science Foundation as research and development related."


The centerpiece of wired-city planning. Teleports, in general, "include an international communications "gateway", a metropolitan area network for distributing advanced information services and surrounding 'intelligent' building complexes." (Hepworth, p.197)

Terminal costs

Transshipment and loading costs which must be paid regardless of the distance involved. See also Linear transport costs

Terms of Trade

Terms of trade do NOT refer to contractual conditions of trade, but to price or exchange relationships between exports and imports. Thus, the terms of trade of a region or country improve when the prices for exports increase or those for imports decrease. Yes, the concepts of terms of trade can be meaningfully applied to many exchange type interactions. For example, the "terms of trade" have lately badly deteriorated for UW students who are facing relatively stable hourly wage rates (e.g. for helpers in the Geog 207 Lab) but increasing tuition costs.

"In the 1990s, the general level of commodity prices fell even more in relation to manufactures, and many commodity-dependent developing countries have continued to suffer deteriorating terms of trade. According to Trade and Development Report, 1999, oil and non-oil primary commodity prices fell by 16.4 and 33.8 per cent respectively from the end of 1996 to February 1999, resulting in a cumulative terms-of-trade loss of more than 4.5 per cent of income during 1997-1998 for developing countries." (Martin Khor, Rethinking Globalization: Critical issues and Policy Choices, 2001)

"Tertiary Sector"

Economic activities concerned with the organization and coordination of production and other economic activities, and with the exchange (logistics, distribution, marketing etc.), maintenance (repair etc.), and consumption (retailing, wholesaling) of goods and services.

The rapid growth of the tertiary sector and the increased importance of information activities in the provision and as part of services, many suggestions have been made as to the need for further subdivisions, e.g. the addition of the quaternary and quinary sectors. [see also: Goodall, p.468-469 ("tertiary activity/sector"); also: Healey & Ilberry, p.8]


A systematic explanatory statement comprising a deductively connected set of (inductively/empirically derived) laws or propositions which relate (dependent and independent) variables to each other.

Third Industrial Revolution (beginning after WWII)

Characterized by the introduction and wide-spread use of numerically controlled robots and advanced computers (thinking machines) and "artificial intelligence". Increased ability of these machines and softwares to assume conceptual, managerial and administrative functions behind the flows from raw material extraction, production and distribution of final goods and services. The steam engine of the first industrial revolution was replaced between 1860 and WWI (2nd Ind. Revolution) by electricity shifting "the burden of economic activity from man to machine. [Rifkin, End of Work, p.60]

Third Sector

"Also known as the independent or volunteer sector, (it) is the realm in which fiduciary arrangements give way to community bonds, and where the giving of one's time to others takes the place of artificially imposed market relationships based on selling oneself and one's services to others." (Rifkin, End of Work, p.239)


Central and northeast Italy -- in the the vicinity of Bologna, Florence, Ancona and Venice -- symbol for new industrial dynamism, a decentralized network of small firms located in small and medium-size cities has managed to innovate and develop products that compete successfully with those of northern European producers . (in contrast to the old Milan-Turin-Genoa industrial area and the less developed South) [Niles Hansen, in McKee and Bennett, eds., Structural Change in an Urban Industrial Region, 1987, p.19]

Third World

"consists of Latin America, Africa, and South and East Asia. These are the areas of the world that are the least developed. The Fourth World consists of the least developed of the Third World Nations with the lowest per capita incomes, usually below $350." (Stutz, 1998, p.30)


A hierarchical arrangement of linked notes in which each successive contribution is written as a response to an earlier note in the discussion (to organize discourse). Usually used by online conferencing forums and called "threading".

Three-Sector Hypothesis

A reference to the (usually employment) shifts between the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy. Our discussion of the "three-sector-hypothesis" focuses on the many (either) supply (productivity) or demand (Engel's curve etc.) - related factors which affect employment developments in different sectors, i.e. types of activities. In an open system, such developments are additionally affected by trade.
Due to the expansion and complex differentiation of service activities, the "tertiary" sector has become a highly unsatisfactory concept (aggregating too many different activities). The result has been the introduction of "quaternary" and "quinary" sectors which generally refer to information, knowledge and communication(s) activities.

Threshold Firm
In the Canadian context, a medium-sized, Canadian-owned firm which is potentially or actually in transition between the state of a small-medium enterprise (SME) and a large enterprise. It is the target of policies for science, technology and industry... and (in Canada) likely to belong to the electronics, machinery, chemical, transport equipment or petroleum and coal products industries.... "Threshold firms are the main source of potential corecompanies." [Steed, Guy P.F. Threshold Firms: Backing Canada's Winners. Science Council of Canada, 1982, p.20; see also: Hayter, pp.245+256]

Threshold (see also: "Spatial threshold")

Minimum demand necessary to support the production and sale of a product, the delivery of a service or the pursuit of a business

Threshold Population [Oxford Dictionary]

Threshold range (see: "Spatial threshold")

Time geography

In time geography, we are considering time as a limited resource imposing constraints on people's activities. When interacting with spatial variables (distance etc.), the resulting time/space constraints can be conceptualized (following Torsten Hägerstrand [from Lund in Southern Sweden]) as "capability-" (Goodall, p.52), "coupling-" (Goodall, p.102) and "authority- constraints" (Goodall, p.30). These constraints affect both locational and interaction/ mobility behaviors. However, the emphasis here is less on any resulting behavior itself, but on the nature, variability, flexibility and change of, and control/power over, the constraints within which we would expect "behaviors to take place".

Hägerstrand's scheme ("time-space prism") is a particularly useful conceptual preparation for the analysis of behaviors which include trade-offs (substitutions) between expenditures of time and other resources ($$) used "to get there" and those spent "to be there", as is typically the case in recreational and tourist travel and destination decisions.

Edward L. Ullman (University of Washington until his death in 1976) was also very interested in such time/space substitutions (early 1970s). In his earlier discussion of the "Bases for Interaction" (1950s), Ullman would have included at least the "capability constraints" in his concept of "transferability" (Goodall, p.478) which, together with his concept of "complementarity" (Goodall, p.84) and Stouffer's concept of "intervening opportunity" (Goodall, p.244) form his "Bases for Interaction".

Selected time-geographic literature

Time-space convergence

First suggested by Janelle (1968), it refers to the diminishing time needed to connect two places by transportation due to improving transport technologies. [See Stutz, 187-8; Johnston, p.628]

Trade liberalization

The direct reduction in trade barriers or the easing or elimination of policies that indirectly restrict or distort international trade, especially policies which protect local production (tariffs, import quotas, export subsidies), and restrictive licensing regulations and practices.

Tragedy of the Commons

Garrett Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science, 162(1968):1243-1248

Transaction costs

The lower the transaction costs associated with a particular contractual assembly of inputs, the more likely self-interested individuals will choose that method of organizing production. (K.Leffler). The limited success of the transaction costs approach may be due to the amorphous nature of these costs (Leffler, 1989)
Structure of Transaction Costs (Powerpoint Slides/ Stanford)

Transactions Table (in Input-Output Analysis)

Transferability (Ullman, see also "Interaction")

"A final factor required in an interaction system is transferability or distance, measured in real terms of transfer and time costs.. If the distance between market and supply is too great and too costly to overcome, interaction will not take place in spite of perfect complementarity and lack of intervening opportunity. Alternate goods will be substituted where possible; for instance, bricks will be used instead of wood. Thus we might consider that the factor of intervening opportunity results in a substitution of areas and that the factor of transferability results in a substitution of products." (Source)

Transfer/Transport costs & rates

Hoover, 2000, ch.3

Transfer pricing

The practice of pricing goods and services flowing within a corporation between corporate units located in different tax jurisdictions so as to shift profits into the jurisdiction with the lowest corporate income tax rates.

Transition matrix

A matrix of transition probabilities (p) (probabilities of outcome a on any given experiment/ during a specific period of time, given that outcome a occurred on the preceding experiment / during the previous period of time)
(See also:
Matrices and matrix multiplications)


Honesty, openness, disclosure propensity and accountability in public and private transactions.

Tree (as a network)

a fully connected network without circuits


Privatisation Agency selling off East German companies between 1990 and 1995, i.e. after the German reunification. In order to attract investors it paid for some or all of the costs of restructuring and environmental clean-up. Often the price of companies sold was reduced considerably in exchange for job and investment guarantees. By September 1994 the Treuhandanstalt had accumulated debts worth DM 183bn. As of the beginning of 1995 these debts were taken over by the Erblasttilgungsfond. These debts are not included in the official federal budget deficit figures.

Trickle-down Technology
"the Notion that the dramatic benefits brought by advances in technology and improvements in productivity eventually filter down to the mass of workers in the form of cheaper goods, greater purchasing power, and more jobs..." (Rifkin, End of Work, p.15)


In the U.S., a trillion are a thousand billions, i.e. the number 1 followed by 12 zeros. In Germany and Britain (and since 1948 in France), 18 zeros follow the 1. In Germany, one trillion equals a million billions (and a billion being a million millions, i.e. the equivalent of a trillion in the U.S.) Confusing?
1.000.000 6million million 9billion milliard 12trillion billion quadrillion (a million billions) a thousand billions quintillion (a million trillions) trillion
1021 21 sextillion (or: hexillion) a thousand trillions
1024 24 septillion quadrillion
1027 27 octillion a thousand quadrillions
1030 30 nonillion quintillion
1033 33 decillion (or: novillion) a thousand quintillions
1036 36 undecillion sextillion
1042 42 tredecillion septillion
1048 48 quindecillion octillion
10100100 googol (or better: Ten duotrigintillion)

Truncation or 'hollowing out"

Characteristic of a "branch plant economy". A truncated plant tends to specialize in production activities, lack higher-level R&D and administrative functions, and therefore provides only limited occupational and career opportunities for employees.
Concept associated with DEPENDENCE in a branch plant economy (see Dicken, Global Shift, pp.376ff . also in Hayter, in Area, 1982) A term first given widespread currency with the Canadian Gray Report, in which "subsidiaries and branch plants, which rely on their foreign based parent company for various services and functions and whose autonomy is circumscribed by head-office dictates, were declared to be truncated firms." Lit.: Hayter 1997, pp.390ff.; Dicken, Global Shift, 1998, pp. 262-3

Turbulent field or environment

"Turbulent field," i.e., the "interdependencies within the environment itself" comprise the "causal texture" of the field. Turbulence is characterized by complexity as well as rapidity of change in causal interconnections in the environment. Organizational environments in which there are dynamic processes arising from the field itself which create significant variances for the component systems. Such dynamic field processes may emerge , e . g ., as an unplanned consequence of the actions of the constituent systems [erosion, overfishing, overcutting]. These fields are so complex so richly textured, that is difficult to see how individual systems can, by their own efforts, successfully adapt to them. [Emery and Trist, 1965]
John Newhouse (in: The Sporty Game) expressed this turbulence for the aircraft industry in general and Boeing, in particular:
"The turbulent environment in which airliners are made and sold is reminiscent of the nineteenth century and some of its entrepreneurial spirits. In deciding to build a new airliner, a manufacturer is literally betting the company, because the size of the investment may exceed the company's entire net worth. The remarkable scale on which senior executives in this industry operate induces them to adopt a curiously understated, rather casual manner of speaking. Betting the company, for example, is being 'sporty', and the business itself is referred to as a 'sporty game'...."
Bluestone et al. (1981, p.7) describe the same phenomenon only slightly less dramatically:
"The aircraft industry, seen as a particular form of industrial organization, is truly unique in the American economy. No other industry of comparable size is composed of firms perched so precariously between fortune and failure, and with the notable exception of the auto industry, no other industry is forced by technological necessity to make billion-dollar investments so fraught with risk."

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