Regional studies in the works of foreign and domestic economists

Despite the fact that the economy and management of the region is a relatively young science, regional studies have a fairly long tradition, attracting close attention of the scientific community both abroad and in Belarus. Some researchers are inclined to believe that modern regional economics as an independent scientific discipline even has its own classics, which include I. Tunen, A. Weber, V. Launhardt, V. Kristaller, A. Lesch, U. Alonso, W. Izard, N. Baransky, N. Kolosovsky and others.

Thus, the German specialist in the field of regional problems I. Tunen, having studied the influence of the space factor on the costs and profits of agricultural enterprises, proved that in this way the spatial factor significantly affects the specialization of enterprises. In his research, I. Tunen assumed the existence of an economically isolated state from the rest of the world, within which there is a central city, which is the only market for agricultural products and at the same time a source of provision for industrial goods. The price of each product at any point in space differs from its price in the city by the amount of transportation costs, which are taken directly proportional to the weight of the cargo and the distance of transportation. The criterion for optimizing the placement in the works of I. Tyunen is the minimization of transportation costs.

As a result, I. Tyunen proved that the optimal scheme for the placement of agricultural production is a system of concentric circles (belts) of different diameters around the central city, separating the zones of location of various types of agricultural activities. The higher the yield (productivity), the closer to the city the corresponding production should be located, and the more expensive a particular product is per unit weight, the farther from the city it is advisable to place it. As a result, the intensity of farming decreases as you move away from the city.

In particular, I. Tyunen identified six belts (rings) of the location of agricultural activities, which were:

high-performance suburban farming; forestry; fruit seed production; pasture farming; three-field crop rotation field; cattle-breeding zone.

At the same time, I. Tunen substantiated the main provisions of the theory of land rent by location. A certain product is sold at the same price regardless of where it is produced. Land rent is equal to the amount of savings on transport costs in farms located relatively closer to the center. It is maximum in the first ring and falls as the land plot moves away from the center. In the most remote ring, where agriculture is still conducted, the amount of rent is zero. The minimum transportation costs for the delivery of agricultural products correspond to the maximum land rent.

The problem of finding the point of optimal placement of a separate industrial enterprise is solved in the works of the German scientist W. Launhardt, who developed the method of weight (location) triangle. The weight triangle of W. Launhardt is formed by the points of extraction of two types of raw materials and the point of consumption of the final products of the enterprise produced from these types of raw materials. The decisive factor in the location of production in W. Launhardt, as well as in I. Tunen, is transportation costs. Production costs are assumed to be equal for all points of the study area. The point of optimal placement of the enterprise inside the weight triangle depends on the weight ratios of the transported goods and distances.

Another German scientist, A. Weber, developed the theory of “industrial standart” (placement factor). Based on the analysis of the factor of location of a single industrial enterprise, he expressed the idea of the need to develop a “general theory of the location of industrial enterprises”. It is generally accepted that the theory of A. Weber put forward in 1909 was the first logically consistent and integral theory of the distribution of industry, which includes the following provisions:

1) the main criterion for the location of each specific enterprise is the minimization of its costs;

2) the methodological scheme for choosing the optimal decision on the location of each specific enterprise is based on taking into account microeconomic factors.

In particular, A. Weber introduced the concept of the “standart factor”, defining it as a clearly expressed, stable advantage that arises in a particular area or in any type of terrain. This advantage is due to the interaction of the following territorial factors: territorial costs, labor costs and agglomeration (congestion of settlements and the availability of infrastructure). The disadvantages of the theory of A. Weber are that the latter proceeded from a number of simplifying assumptions related to the consideration of regions in the form of abstract isolated (without links between industries and without taking into account foreign trade) territories with all the necessary resources.

The first theory about the placement of a system of settlements (central places) in the market space was proposed by V. Kristaller. At the same time, V. Kristaller calls the central places economic centers that serve not only themselves, but also the population of their district (sales zones) with goods and services. According to V. Kristaller, service and sales areas tend to be formed in regular hexagons over time, and the entire populated area is covered with hexagons without a lumen (Crystaller lattice). The theory of V. Kristaller explains why some goods and services should be produced (provided) in each locality (essential products), others – in medium-sized settlements (ordinary clothes, basic household services, etc.), others – only in large cities (luxury goods, theaters, museums, etc.). Each central location has a larger sales area, the higher the level of hierarchy to which it belongs. In addition to the products required for the zone of its rank (its hexagon), the center produces (provides) goods and services typical of all centers of lower ranks.

The theory of central places of V. Kristaller, although extremely abstract, allows us to formulate general ideas about the expediency of settlement in a particular territory. It can be considered as a theory that gives a standard for the resettlement system, with which it is necessary to compare the settlement systems that are developing in reality in order to identify directions for their improvement.

The foundations of the theory of production location, laid by I. Tunen, W. Launhardt, A. Weber, V. Crystaller, received an intensive continuation in the first half of the twentieth century. in the formation of the general theory of placement. In this process, there are three main directions.

1. Construction of “pure” theoretical constructions that continue the traditions of the classics. This approach is based on the solution of a relatively simple problem – the location of production. This task, relying on the ideas of V. Kristaller, was set and solved by A. Lesh, who considered the economic region as a market with borders due to interregional competition. He analyzed several types (levels) of regions, including market zones defined by the radii of competitive marketing of the relevant types of products, and economic landscapes – the highest types of regions that unite market zones.

In addition, A. Lesh proposed to consider the theoretical problems of the location of the economy as a whole, on a national scale. The peculiarity of his theory was that the determining factor in the placement of production is the maximization of profits (and not the reduction of costs, as in A. Weber). The theory of economic regionalization of A. Lesh is based on the concept of the so-called “market spaces”, which expresses the interaction of concentrating (specialization and mass production) and scattering (universal production and transportation costs) forces. According to the theory of A. Lesh, the most rational form of economic regions is hexagons (“honeycombs”) with economic centers – large cities. However, his views were based on a number of simplifying assumptions, suggesting the consideration of economic space in the form of a plain, where raw materials and fuels are available in abundance and are placed evenly.

2. Creation of general theories covering new factors, conditions, aspects. At the heart of this approach, the supporters considered by the German scientists O. Engländer, G. Ritchl, as well as the Swedish scientist T. Palander, is the transition from the consideration of a separate isolated industrial enterprise to the analysis of a set of interrelated enterprises. This theoretical direction is characterized by a transition from minimizing costs (not only transport, but also production) to maximizing profits and incomes, introducing variable prices, rents, supply and demand functions, and elements of dynamics into consideration.

3. Construction of a general theory of placement on the basis of models of spatial economic equilibrium. This approach is based on the classical model of general economic equilibrium of L. Walras. Such a model is very complex, since in principle it should synthesize all particular theories of location and include a mathematical description of the conditions for the location of production and population, transport networks, the formation of regional markets, interregional trade and migration of the population, the formation of prices for products and factors of production, etc.

In particular, the representative of this trend, W. Izard, rightly criticizes the classics for the fact that they limited themselves to the study of “a wonderland devoid of any spatial characteristics”, i.e. models with unacceptable simplifications. The law derived by W. Izard states: firms that maximize profits will be placed in such a way that the marginal norms of replacement of transport costs for the delivery of goods from two different points (regions) are equal to the value opposite to the ratio of their transport tariffs.
In his works, W. Izard adapts the methods of macroeconomics for the study of interregional relations, develops models of spatial equilibrium, the formation of the industrial complex, and studies conflicts in regional systems. He connected the theory of placement with the theories of production, pricing, trade, etc.

The theory of growth poles put forward by the French economist F. Perroux was widely recognized. It is based on the idea of the leading role of the sectoral structure of the economy, and first of all the leading industries that create new goods and services. Those centers and areas of the economic space where the enterprises of the leading industries are located become poles of attraction of factors of production, since they ensure the most effective use of them. This leads to the concentration of enterprises and the formation of poles of economic growth.

Modern regional studies of foreign scientists are associated with attempts to consider regional problems in depth not only from the standpoint of microeconomics, but also taking into account macroeconomic factors, including new ones (globalization, scientific and technological progress, deepening of state regulation, the concept of infrastructure, etc.). Thus, the American scientist U. Alonso believed that in the conditions of developing countries, the choice of the location of an industrial enterprise is determined mainly by external factors and, first of all, by the economic development of the territory. Proceeding from the fact that savings due to favorable external factors can overlap the savings obtained by placing the enterprise closer to the sources of raw materials, U. Alonso justified the concentration of industrial production near cities (urbanization).

Major foreign representatives of modern regional science are W. Izard, V. Leontiev (both – the USA), P. Hagettl (Great Britain), etc. In particular, the above-mentioned W. Izard first introduced the term “regional science”, which, in his opinion, should study not only regions (economic areas), but also their systems, the connections between them. For example, U. Izard and V. Leontiev in the early 50s developed the first multisectoral models of inter-district relations.

Domestic regional science is also represented by a number of very well-known and authoritative names. Thus, N. Baransky is considered the founder of the economic geography of the USSR. N. Kolosovsky in the mid-40s developed the basics of the theory of territorial-production complexes. In particular, he proposed the concept of energy production cycles, which were understood as natural chains of production that have an interconnection of production processes and a common energy and raw material base. In 1947, N. Kolosovsky identified eight such energy production cycles, now in connection with scientific and technological progress there are already sixteen of them.

In the future, the problems of economics and management of the region were studied by P. Alampiev, V. Kistanov, E. Probst, E. Alaev, N. Nekrasov, etc. Among modern Belarusian economists who develop the theory of regional management, it is necessary to single out V. Fateev, L. Kozlovskaya, V. Borisevich, A. Bogdanovich, N. Bogdan and others.