Weber Model of Industrial Location – UPSC

In this article, You will read Weber Model of Industrial Location for UPSC (Geography Optional).

In Geography Optional for UPSC, You have to read the 3 Model of Locational Theories i.e.

  1. Von Thunen’s model of agricultural location
  2. Alfred Weber’s Theory of Industrial Location
  3. Central place theory

These 3 models are called ‘Location Triad‘.

Central theme of Industrial location theory has been the concept of optimum location i.e. finding out best location where profit is maximum and cost is minimum.

The profit can be maximum—

  • Where the cost of manufacturing is least due to the presence of Raw Material, Market, etc.
  • Where Revenue is maximum.

But such locations are rarely available e.g. SAIL Plant has Raw Material within its vicinity but not market so Transportation cost is more.

Theories of Weber & Losch

  • Question of cost & revenue was studies separately by 2 scholars
    • Least Cost Theory of Weber
    • Maximum Revenue Theory of Losch
  • Weber: Assumption was that demand is uniform (i.e. price is same everywhere) & where ever cost of manufacturing will be minimum, profit will be maximum. Therefore, known as Least Cost Theory
  • Losch: Presumed cost of manufacturing to be same everywhere, so the industry is located where demand is maximum and therefore the price is maximum, hence maximum revenue is generated.

Weber’s Model

  • Weber propounded the theory in 1909
  • It is also called ‘Least Cost Location Theory‘ and was published in his classical work ‘Uber den Stanford der Industrien
  • It has probably had more influence on Industrial location theory than any other single contribution
  • The model is a device for analyzing the location of industry, which he elaborated as ‘Locational Triangle’
  • It is an idealistic model of industrial location based on a set of criteria & simplifying assumption
  • It is a normative deductive model (considering man as economic and rational who conclude things based on facts/experiences/logical reasoning) which speaks partial truth and doesn’t claim the universal application of theory
  • However, in idealistic conditions, such models can be aptly applied. Such models are known as Stochastic Models.
  • Weber (German Scholar) presented his theory in 1909 on the basis of his studies of industries in South Germany
  • Weber’s model provided the foundation for variable cost analysis which dominated the study of Industrial location for many decades.

Objectives

  • To ascertain the minimum cost location of an industry, wherein Weber talked about 3 types of costs
    1. Transportation cost,
    2. Labour Cost, and
    3. Processing/Agglomeration Cost
  • To establish that transportation cost plays a vital role in the selection of industrial location
  • To prove that irrespective of socio-economic & political conditions, the location of industries depend on transportation cost. Transportation cost in the location of industries is universal.

Assumptions (General and Economic)

General Assumption

  • Man is economic and rational who always takes economic decisions and rationalize its application
  • Isotropic surface i.e., climate, soil fertility, physiography, etc are homogeneous with no variability
  • Equal connectivity from everywhere
  • The area under consideration has a self-supporting economy / self-sustainable system
  • Perfect competition exists and the price of particular goods is identical
  • There is uniformity and stability in the socio-economic and political environment in the region.

Economic Assumption

  • Demand is uniform in the market
  • Transportation cost is directly proportional to / the product of – Distance, Weight & Volume
  • There is a single mode of transportation with equal connectivity everywhere
  • There is a single market over the given landscape where all the industrial products are sold
  • Price of industrial products in the market is uniform
  • The labour is static and wages are uniform in the region.

Economic Assumptions – Raw Materials Classification by Weber

Raw Material have been classified on basis of –

  1. Location
  2. Nature of Final Product

On the Basis of Location

  1. Ubiquitous
  2. Uniquitous/Localized
Raw Material classification - weber
  • Pure Raw Material – If the weight of raw material remains the same even after processing, it is called Pure Raw Material
  • Gross Raw Material – If the weight of raw material is reduced in weight after processing, it is called Gross Raw Material

On the basis of Nature of final product

  1. Weight loosing
  2. Weight gaining

The factors that control the location of industries are as under –

  • Influence of Transport (General Factor)
  • Influence of Labour Cost (General Factor)
  • Influence of Industrial Agglomeration (Local or Specific Factor)

Working out of Material Index (MI)

  • Material Index is the weight of the inputs/Raw Material divided by the weight of the final product.
Material Index (MI) - weber

If Material Index is less than 1 (Weight Gaining Industry), location of the industry tends to be towards the market i.e. Market Oriented Industry.

  • e.g. Cakes, Beer, etc.

If Material Index is greater than 1 (Weight Losing Industry), location of the industry tends to be towards raw material sources i.e. Material Oriented Industry.

  • e.g. Iron Steel Industry, Sugar Industry, etc.

If Material Index is equal to 1 (Same Weight, Neither Weight gaining nor Weight losing Industry), Industry has a footloose location.

Types of Costs (According to Weber)

  • Transportation Cost – Determined by Distance, Weight & Volume
  • Processing Cost – It is less where more than 3 industries are agglomerated. i.e., Use of common infrastructure e.g. Industrial zones in Mumbai, Delhi, Automobile agglomerations in Pune, etc
  • Labour Cost – Away from the market, the labor cost diminishes
  • A product may require one or more Raw material, depending upon the relative location of the market & raw material source.
  • We get different geometric patterns/locations along which industry could be located –
    • Linear (when single raw material is present)
    • Non-Linear (when more than one raw material is present)
      • Triangular (when 2 raw materials are present)
      • Rectangular (when 3 raw materials present) and so on

Transportation Cost Analysis

1) Based on the nature of Raw Material & Location of the market, Weber worked on various permutation & combinations to assert various locations where profit could be maximized & least cost occurs.

A. If there is a Single Market & Single Raw Material,

  1. If Raw Material is Gross & Ubiquitous, Industry will be located at the market, since away from the market transportation cost of finished goods increases.
  2. If Raw Material is Pure & Fixed (Weight Gaining/Uniquitous), Industry will be located at the Market because Raw Material is weight gaining & final product has greater volume & weight.
  3. If Raw Material is Gross & Fixed (Weight Losing), Industry will be located at the Raw Material source as the final product has lesser weight than Raw Material and transportation cost of Raw Material is more
    • e.g. Coal and Iron Ore are weight-losing Raw Materials in Iron Steel Industry.

B. If there is a Single market & 2 Raw materials (RM1 & RM2) – a Triangle pattern is formed where the Material Index of each Raw Material & the distance of the market from Raw Material decides the location.

Weber Model of Industrial Location

In case of 2 Raw Materials, there are 4 possible locations with a triangular set up –

  • (i) If RM1 is Pure & Fixed, RM2 is Gross & Fixed & 3 points(RM1, RM2 & market) are equidistant from each otherIndustry can be located either at the market or at RM2.
  • (ii) If RM1 is Gross & Ubiquitous, RM2 is Gross & Fixed – Industry will be located at RM2.
  • (iii) If RM1 is Gross & Fixed and RM2 is also Gross & Fixed, the preferred site of the industry is well defined upon relative weight loosing of Raw Material.
    • e.g. Iron & steel (2-ton coal & 2-ton iron ore produce 1-ton steel)
    • In this case, Weber considered a complex situation & suggested a centroid location (P) for the industry.
    • Since RM1 & RM2 both are fixed & gross – they exert an equal pull.
    • Based on Distance Minimization Principle, optimum location P will be closer to the RM sources to save transportation costs.
    • The midpoint between RM1 and RM2 is O, which can’t be the optimum location because marketing also exacts its pull & P is the optimum location from where RM1 and RM2 are at the economic distance & also the optimum distance from the market.
    • The least transport cost point P is the point at which the total cost of moving raw materials and finished products is the least.
    • The location of an industry in a triangular area is closely influenced by the nature of raw material and the Material Index of each raw material.
    • If P is shifted along with transportation line MO throughout the market, the transportation cost of Raw Material will be more as the distance of Raw Material from Industry will increase and profit will be less e.g. For Iron & steel industry, 1 Tonne of steel requires 2 Tonne each of Coal and Iron Ore, so optimum location of Industry P will be near to raw material, due to cost of transportation.
  • (iv) If RM1 is Pure & Fixed and RM2 is Pure & Fixed: – For weight gaining industry, optimum location P will be closer to the market because Raw Materials gain weight as they are processed into the final product.
    • e.g. In Bakery Industry, 1 T of Sugar and 1 T of Wheat flour make 4 T of Cake
    • To save transportation costs, such industries are located near the market.
  • (v) If both Raw Material are ubiquitous, then ideal location of plant is market.

Labour Cost Analysis

  • Labour has been considered ubiquitous & static and the savings on labour increase away from the market.
  • If any industry is located on Market, Labour cost is maximum
  • Transportation costs also increases away from the market & the optimum location P depending on whether the industry is weight gaining or weight losing.
  • Weber projected that optimum location P can be further shifted to L if the saving on labour is more than the extra transportation cost incurred leading to extra profit.
  • Displacement of industries are thus motivated by profit maximization and to reduce the labour cost, industries can be shifted away from the centroid of the location Δ.
  • Weber constructed cost-contour circles called Isodopanes, which are transportation cost circles such as L1, L2, etc
  • These circles have same transportation and labour cost on all points
  • L3 is the critical isodopane where the saving on labour & extra transportation cost equalizes beyond which no extra profit can be earned.
  • L4 is not a desired location as Transportation cost increases beyond the saving on Labour cost
  • In the given example – L2 is the best location where profit can be earned
  • IsodopanesLines joining the points of equal additional transportation cost of the two materials and delivering the product to the market.
  • IsotimesLines joining the points of additional equal transport costs of Raw material to the cheap labour centre.
  • These costs are additional transportation cost when the location is changed for cheap labour
  • All along the Isotimes, transportation cost is same per unit distance.
Weber Model of Industrial Location - isotims

Processing Cost Analysis

  • Weber suggested that if 3 or more industries are located at a single point, the processing cost can be reduced , because of common use of infrastructure such as electricity, roads, etc & saving on processing cost can be made
  • This is called the agglomeration effect which is the interference of 3 (at least 3) critical isodopane
  • New industries should come up at the agglomeration area & even the existing industries can be shifted to it e.g. In Mumbai, Industries come up due to agglomeration effect
  • But such shifting of Industries is again based on the saving on processing & extra transportation cost.
Area of Agglomeration - Weber Model of Industrial Location

Application

  • Weber’s model has no universal application because it is an idealistic & normative deductive model. However, it can be applied in USA and Europe Man is neither economic nor rational and can act differently in different situation
  • Even isotropic surface is hypothetical situation
  • Thus, such models are bound to have deviation from reality
  • But they act as parameters for measurement of reality & departure from reality.

USA

  • W-Isard- has applied Weber’s model in the USA for Weight losing Industry
    • Coal from Pennsylvania & North Appalachians
    • Iron ore from Lake superior &
    • Market at New England region & transportation line as St. Lawrence lake region
  • All the Iron & Steel industries are found in a cluster which are similar to optimum location as delivered by Weber
  • For example- Industries at Pittsburgh, Youngtown, Buffalo, Chicago are closer to the raw material.

Europe

  • It was further applied in Europe for weight gaining industries like Bakery
  • Market is the London-Rotterdam triangle
  • Sugar is produced in Poland, Russia & Some parts of Germany
  • Wheat flour in Ukraine, Hungary & Romania, Bulgaria, etc
  • Bakery industries mostly in BENELUX (Belgium, Netherland, Luxembourg).

Application in India

  • India- TISCO, Jamshedpur
    • Raw Material is the most important determinant for the location of the TISCO plant in Jamshedpur
    • Haematite Iron ore –Gurumahisani and Noamundi, Singhbhum within 100 km
    • Coal- Jharia (Jharkhand) & Raniganj (WB), within 200 Km
    • Calcutta- Port & Industrialized hinterland for market within 250 km
    • Water- Subarnarekha river for cooling purpose
    • Labour- Cheap & abundant: Bihar, Chota Nagpur (Tribal), Orissa.
    • Good transport facility
    • NH6 (Mumbai-Kolkata)
    • NH5 (Chennai-Kolkata)

Applicability

  • 19th & 20th century industrial location reflects resemblance with the model but modern industrial locations are affected by many other factors e.g. Iron & Steel in USA, Bakery in Europe, etc
  • Transportation principle lost significance but the relationship between distance, volume & transportation costs still holds good
  • Labour principle lost its significance due to high mobility & demand for skilled labour. However, developing countries still attract MNCs for their low labour costs. e.g. Around 11 million people work in middle east as labour due to mobility, Skilled Labour demand is rising, etc
  • Agglomeration principle has high validity even today. E.g. Cluster Approach, SEZs, Export Oriented Units, Export Processing Zones, etc are based on these principles
  • Post liberalization & globalization, industry considers both domestic & foreign market so preferred the location has become ports now for easy transportation
  • Presently, Raw Material is also received from foreign countries. Also, the quality of Raw materials has attained greater significance which was not mentioned in Weber’s Model. For E.g. Quality Iron ore in India is imported from Australia
  • Revolution in transportation facilities like refrigerated transportation has influenced locations greatly and nowadays, even perishable products can be transported to any distance. E.g.- Milk products from Gujarat are sent as far as to Kolkata today
  • Modern transportation facilities have made the bulk carrying easier & cheaper even for the longer distance

Criticism

  • Many assumptions made were unrealistic and such conditions are rarely found in real world
  • The greatest challenge came from the Maximum Revenue Theory of Losch where the demand was not fixed rather cost was fixed because demand fluctuated in the market which is more practical
  • Weber considers only 2 Raw Materials but many industries required more than 2 Raw Materials
  • Single market for industries is also an insufficient assumption e.g. Cotton Industry in India has to market all over the country
  • Too much emphasis on transport cost. Even the labour cost analysis & the agglomeration effects have been calculated in relation to the transport Cost. In modern days, Processing Cost has become more significant than transportation cost
  • Transportation cost is proportionate to distance & weight but RM transportation is cheaper than finished goods. Also with an increase in distance, transportation cost decreases
  • After the revolution in transportation & communication sectors, his model has become redundant because faster & cheaper modes of transportation like railways, waterways have reduced the role of transportation as the imposing factor
  • Price is fixed for products but the price always fluctuates & is controlled by demand & supply mechanism
  • Assumed perfect competition which in long run is difficult to sustain
  • Role of influence of agglomeration factors ignored other factors such as space problem, energy crisis, etc. as agglomeration provides many other benefits
  • Historical factors such as Inertia not taken in account e.g. India had Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata as industrial cities before independence so it was a natural choice of Industries post-independence
  • Physiographic & Climatic hazards & Geographical landscapes have been idealized into isotropic surfaces. Thus, this model has lesser practically
  • Ignored Social, Political & other Human Considerations. In India, during the 2nd Five Year Plan, Government intervention led to the expansion of Iron & Steel industry, Government policy on the SSI locator in India reverses the trend visualized by Weber.
  • An export-oriented unit would prefer a port location to have easy shipment rather than the least transport cost location of Weber
  • Increased complexity of industrial organization with single product factory of 20th century replaced by multi-product international corporation. Thus Weber theory difficult to apply
  • Entrepreneur do not have full knowledge of facts, thus they opt for a range of suboptimal locations rather than optimum location
  • He gave more emphasis to supply, while the role of demand in the location of the industry has been ignored.

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Neeraj singh

Wonderful structured thank you for helping us

Srushti gowda

Thanks a lot for these beautiful and resource rich notes sir..These notes will help self studying students..

Vishal

Thank you very much sir for supporting us guiding us and special thanks for to making such wonderful notes..

Varthini

thanks a lot for the material.. sir.. kindly post the material for full syllabus before prelims…

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