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Weber’s Theory of Location

Alfred Weber attempted an analytical approach to the problem of industrial location for the first time. His pure theory of location was published in 1909 in German language and remained unknown with English speaking people till 1919 when its English translation was published by Carl Joachim Friedrich. The method of treatment adopted by Weber is purely deductive and the entire theory is based upon analytical study of general factors which pull an industry towards different geographical locations.

Weber made the following assumptions:

(i)    There are fixed centers of consumption.

(ii)    The cost of raw materials is same at all places even though there is uneven distribution of deposits of raw materials.

(iii)    Centre of labour supplies are fixed and they have unlimited supplies of labour at constant cost.

(iv)    Transport costs are manly influenced by weight of materials and distance only. There is an absolutely even plane and there are equal transpiration rates throughout the country.

Why does a particular industry move from one location to another? Weber classified causes which influence the location of an industry into two broad categories, namely: (i) primary factors or regional factors, and (ii) secondary factors or agglomerative and deliberative factors. To point out the important regional factors, Weber enumerated the elements of cost as follows: (a) the cost of grounds, (b) the cost of building, machines and other fixed assets, (c) the cost of grounds, materials, power and fuel, (d) the cost of labour, (e) the cost of transpiration, (f) the interest rates, and (g) the rate of depreciation on fixed assets.

According to Weber, an industrialist would prefer the region where the raw material, labour and transport costs are minimum. Since the differences in cost of raw materials are due to distances over which they have to be transported, they too may be considered as a form of transport cost. This leaves two regional factors, namely, the transportation costs and labour costs on which his theory is based. All other elements of cost do not have any significant bearing on the location of industry because some of the elements (depreciation and amortization) are independent of geographical situation and are treated as agglomerative or deliberative factors because the either cause concentration or dispersal of an industry. It is significant to point out that cost of land and rent in particular region does not matter because their proportion to other inputs is very small. However, when there is concentration of industry, they do not remain insignificant for a new firm. In such a case, rent and cost of land become deliberative factors.

                                                Elements of Weber Theory

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