In this article, You will read the Growth Pole and Growth Centre Theory of Perroux and Boudeville – for UPSC IAS (Human Geography).

Growth Pole and Growth Centre Theory

  • Economic development is the highest coveted goal for an economy and nation.
  • Various policy frameworks, economic plans, strategies are formulated by respective govt. to resurrect the economic stagnancy
  • The theory of Growth Pole & Growth Centre have been proposed by French economists with a view to resurrecting the French economy with propulsive growth in a short span of time.
  • Growth Pole Theory is an inductive economic model with a geographical analysis of space. (Inductive means from particular to general)
  • Growth Pole was proposed by Francois Perroux in 1955 as a part of economic planning in France, He was concerned with the phenomenon of economic development and with the process of structural change.
  • The concept of Growth Centre however was proposed by Boudeville as a part of his studies in Minas Gerais (Iron ore mines- largest in Brazil).
    • Boudeville gave a regional character and a specific geographic content to Perroux’s conception.

Growth Pole Theory

  • Francois Perroux attempted to explain how the modern process of economic growth deviated from the stationary conception of equilibrium growth. His arguments were based on Schumpeter’s theories of the role of innovations and large-scale firms.
    • In Schumpeter’s analysis, development occurs as a result of discontinuous spurts in a dynamic world. The cause of discontinuous spurts is the innovative entrepreneur whose activities take place in large-scale firms. These firms are able to dominate their environment in the sense of exercising reversible and partially reversible influences on other economic units by reason of their dimension and negotiating strength, and by the nature of their operations.
  • A Growth Pole (GP) is a dynamic and highly integrated set of industries organized around a propulsive leading industry.
    • E.g- the TISCO plant (Iron & steel) which leads to the establishment of a dynamic & integrated set of industries around it and is linked to it. Then the whole region around this TISCO will be known as the Growth Pole which will propel the growth of the whole region.
  • The central idea of the growth poles theory is that economic development, or growth, is not uniform over an entire region, but instead takes place around a specific pole (or cluster). This pole is often characterized by core (key) industries around which linked industries develop, mainly through direct and indirect effects. Core industries can involve a wide variety of sectors such as automotive, aeronautical, agribusiness, electronics, steel, petrochemical, etc. 
  • Direct effects imply the core industry is purchasing goods and services from its suppliers (upstream linked industries) or providing goods and services to its customers (downstream linked industries).
  • Indirect effects can involve the demand for goods and services by people employed by the core and linked industries supporting the development and expansion of economic activities such as retail.
  • The expansion of the core industry implies the expansion of output, employment, related investments, as well as new technologies and new industrial sectors.
Growth Pole  Theory UPSC

Growth Pole Model

The growth pole model is based on following postulates:

  1. Concept of economic space: This theory was devised to revive France’s economy. Hence we are talking mainly about the economy.
  2. Concept of a leading industry: A leading industry is one that is basic and fundamental to the growth of other complementary, parasitic, peripheral industries. Cotton Textile was the leading industry in Lancashire which invited industries, manufacturing machinery (complementary industry) for cotton textile as the machines were demanded by the cotton textile industry.
  3. Concept of the propulsive firm: A propulsive firm means the accumulation of factors of production and the risk-taking capacity to venture into new economic sectors. A firm can be internal to an industry that functions as a part of the industry to propel its growth and proliferation. A Firm can also be external to the industries which can develop certain industries in various economic sectors.
  4. Concept of polarisation: Polarisation means centralization (concentration) of factors of production, resources- both physical & human, labour- both skilled & unskilled in an area. The place which develops infrastructure grows in centrality and pulls capital, resources, labours, entrepreneurship from the surrounding area. This is an essential stage for the development of the growth pole.
  5. Concept of linkages: Linkages means the forward and backward linkage of an industry or an economic system that is functional and interdependent and characterized by epiphytic (parasitic) tendencies E.g. Motor vehicles industry has forward linkages with the marketing, advertising, insurance, and backward linkages with iron & steel industry, rubber industry, etc Backward linkage: An industry which encourages investment in the earlier stage of production by expanding its demand for inputs Forward linkage: An industry which encourages investment in the subsequent stage of production. E.g: Loan and Banking services requirement by the motor vehicle industry
  6. Concept of Agglomeration: Agglomeration means the accumulation of a number of basic & heavy industries with their respective set of ancillary industries and their linkage. It involves the growth of infrastructure, R&D.

Stages of Development

  1. STATIONARY GROWTH: It is the stage of economic stagnancy and no utilization of resources, immobile capital, immobile capital & labour, and lesser propensity to development.
  2. CENTRALISATION: It means factors of production are moving towards the economic space and new ventures, economic activities have been initiated
  3. POLARISATION: It reflects the cumulative causation as suggested by Myrdal and a leading industry or a propulsive firm develops at the point of centralization over the economic space. In polarisation, the economic growth has started and the backwash effect (by Gunner Myrdal) can be seen which drains out the resources from surroundings, rendering them poor and backwardness surrounds the growth pole.
  4. AGGLOMERATIVE PHASE: The backwash effect is more accentuated and the surrounding areas are desertified while the centre develops into the growth pole (set of integrated and dynamic industries) and it is disproportionately larger than the other urban centres. Thus, the growth pole is developed over the economic space where polarisation and agglomeration have taken place.
  5. TRICKLE DOWN: This is the last phase of Growth Pole development. Trickle-down is synonymous to the spread-out effect (no scope for further development in the Growth Pole region) as suggested by Gunner Myrdal. Trickle-down was coined by Hirschmann. The benefits spread out in the otherwise desertified region. This stage is marked by
    • i) Decentralisation of industries
    • ii) Dispersal of capital investments
    • iii) Diffusion of innovation
    • iv) Diversification of industries (venturing into other industries or products)
    • Thus the whole landscape develops and economic equilibrium is established and due to the trickling down of benefits, the backward areas can be developed into developed areas.

Keeping in mind the Growth Pole Concept, India in 2nd Five Year Plan (Nehru- Mahalonobis Model) has established Iron & Steel Plant in Durgapur, Bhillai, and Rourkela which will act as leading industry and result in the development of the area and ultimately by Trickle Down effect. But it has not achieved that much due to any trickle-down effect.

perroux and boudeville theory upsc

Critical Evaluation

  1. The Growth Pole concept was intended for rapid economic growth in a short span of time. But in the place of its origin, it failed as reflected in the “Paris and the French Desert” (It means Paris developed and the surrounding area didn’t due to no trickle-down effect)
  2. Trickle-down stage and decentralization etc. have not operated the way it was proposed in the model. Growth Pole kept on growing at the cost of surroundings and benefits could not outgrow in the backward areas and it led to an ever-widening regional disparity.
  3. Growth Pole was projected as an alternative model to the CPT (Central Place Theory) where an idealistic distribution of various centres (production, service provider centres) were organized. But it could not serve the purpose of the overall development of a country.
  4. Economic space has been criticized by many scholars and Boudeville replaced it with geographical space. Economic space remains a mere fanciful idea, while geographical space was a larger reality. In the case of Paris, Economic space was feasible as Paris has minerals in the west, agriculture in the east, coasts in the south, and population in the North- such a thing is fanciful in India and the majority of other places.

Difference between Growth Pole and Growth Centre

Growth PoleGrowth Centre
French Concept proposed by PerrouxAmerican Concept proposed by Boudeville
Based on study of France with Paris & the surroundingsBased on study of Minas Geras (Brazil)
Based on the idea of economic space, It is an economic & abstract concept and not exist in reality Requires large scale & Huge capital investmentBased on idea of Geographical space GC development is closely linked to development of GP
Economic space means where the factor of production can be centralized such that propulsive economic growth can be introduced on the basis of a leading industry or a propulsive firm. It means any point on the surface where resources, land, labour; enterprise can function together and produce the maximum results. Economic space follows the principle of optimum location as proposed in Weber’s model, which is based on 3 principles- Profit maximization, distance minimization, and least cost. Economic space is based on polarisation or agglomeration effect, where a number of basic and heavy industries with their backward and forward linkages develop.Geographical space means such location which are governed by the principle of accessibility, nearness, location, resource base or such geographical factors which themselves are responsible for propulsive growth.
E.g.- The development of satellite towns along the major transport lines is a geographical space, where new industries can be installed as a part of urban decentralization. The location of the iron & steel industry in Chota Nagpur is the occupation of Geographic Space. Similarly, Minas Geras (Brazil) with rich deposits of iron ore and Manganese ore is a geographical space where a leading industry like iron & steel can be developed.
Based on agglomeration effect ( 3or more industries and their linkages)Based on cumulative effect (can be based on one industry or firm)
Growth Pole is generally proposed at the National Level. It has inter-regional co-relation.Growth center is generally proposed at the regional/local. An instrument of regional development. It promotes local goals and has intraregional characteristics
Can be applied in a country with a small geographical extentLarge geographical extent
Requisite of growth pole in country is 1Growth centres could be many
Growth Pole functions at the highest hierarchyGrowth centre functions at lower hierarchy, below the Growth Pole
Growth Pole is the centre of diffusion of innovation, centre for research and development, capital accumulation, capital reinvestment, and employment generation.Growth centre is intended to utilize the local resources and develop the local or regional economy. It does not intend to draw resources from all the places and can’t have R&D
GP signify greater centripetal forces and behave as the largest economic magnet in a country. It seeks short span growthIt signifies centrifugal forces and dispersal of economic activities. It seeks overall growth and long-term growth.
GP has negative results even in the French experience. E.g. After the growth of Paris, the surrounding region was bereft of development and it was titled “Paris and the French Desert”.GC has positive connotations since it is resource-based development, diffused growth, decentralized, function at the regional level and it contemplates growth of while landscape.
GP is a mere economic concept and is based on industrial units, propulsive firms.GC is based on industries as well as the growth of services. E.g – Schools, Colleges, Health services etc

R.P. Mishra:

  • Indianised the theory of GP and GC (by integrating GPT, CPT, and Spatial Diffusion Theory) in his own way and presented a new hypothesis on Growth Focii (GF).
  • GF is a low-order functional, an economic hub that functions at Block/Tehsil level. It was not based on industrialization rather it relies on the development of service centres.
  • E.g A block-level market with an education centre, health centre, entertainment centre, evolving social institutions, social organizations, and development of social capital, making people more conscious, aware, knowledgeable to their growth perspectives, Thus, GF is based on the concept of local renaissance and development of the service sector.
  • It was to act below the growth centres and the growth point. Thus for the regional development perspective, the following model can be applied.

Difference between Central Place theory (CPT) and Growth Pole theory (GPT)

CPT is normative, deductive based on idealistic assumptions.It is an empirical, inductive model based on data surveys and observations.
CPT assumes that equal distribution of resources and settlements over the landscape.GPT assumes the unequal/ heterogeneous landscape
CPT applies to the fully developed landscape of a countryGPT is based on various stages of development
It has a complete picture and network of the various hierarchical patterns of function at different levels.
E.g. – 7 level hierarchy CPT is a much more comprehensive model of planning which includes GP at H1, GC at H2, Growth Pole at H3, etc.
GP doesn’t have a hierarchy and it is the single most important magnet of a country.
CPT signifies diffusion, dispersal, decentralizationGPT signifies centralisation, polarisation, agglomeration
CPT is based on mainly the supply factor from various settlements at different hierarchical levels.GPT is based on demand and production.
Based on servicesBased on industries, firms, productions, manufacturing
CPT signifies centrifugal forces and the flow from top to bottom.GPT signifies centripetal forces and bottom to top.


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