May 26 2009

Pace and Place

by at 1:53 pm under Uncategorized

Scott Storper and Michael Storper explore the ways in which a node can be affected by its geographical place in the world. The externalities that can occur from neighboring nations’ networks can affect a country’s economic and social status. This may be one more reason that Collier’s theory about the precarious situation of land-locked countries has validity. Scott Storper asserts that agglomeration based on the role of the “region” allows for positive effects of urbanization. He speaks directly to complexity theory in that the more tightly-drawn the network, the better chance of connectivity through weak links to a greater market.

As an example of the node/language of a network, I found that the professional networking site “LinkedIn” has their own “Network Statistics” tab, in which they show “Your Network of Trusted Professionals.” Turns out with only 51 direct contacts, I am only up to three degrees away from 344,200+ people. Astounding. What is also interesting is how little I use that network. It’s nice to know it’s there, but until I utilize it (or it utilizes me), it’s effectively worthless. The proliferation of links serves as nothing more than a competitive advantage.

Chairlift by Itchy Pixel

Chairlift by Itchy Pixel

For many underdeveloped countries, there are no trusted professionals and those who tout themselves as such (i.e. IMF par Stiglitz’s arguments) do little to effectively “globalize” the economies of these nations. The way to build these economies up may be to create hubs of activity within a developing country instead of fully liberalizing trade without regard to labor and or market regulations. The network nodes within these developing countries need to have a high level of weak ties, which is only possible in non-isolated communities. This can be enacted in through either urbanization or technological advances.

However, I wonder what the cost is to local culture? As Michael Storper reveals with the Hotelling’s duopoly, the spacing of competitive markets is rarely ideal to maximize each company’s profits and serve the greatest number of consumers. Combined with the hugeness factor and international success of Wal-Mart and Target, it seems like developing countries have a long(er?) way to go to enter the global economy.

By urban75 editor

Giant Ice Cream and Deck Chairs by urban75 editor

Overall, the collection of readings seems to point to a greater emphasis on the local network structure as a model for global policies and regulations for development. However, I also wonder how countries can enter the global economy while protecting local culture. Is the strength of the node then more important than the link? When limited resources are in effect, will the introduction of convenience, price, and diverse deliverables always override “Mom and Pop” shops at some point?

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