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The place of telecommunications: spatial decision-making by firms in the age of global communications

Reades, J.E.; (2011) The place of telecommunications: spatial decision-making by firms in the age of global communications. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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The transition to a digital, knowledge-based economy has seemingly thrown the study of industrial spatial strategy into disarray: theory rooted in the analysis of material flows appears insufficient for the study of informational ones. However, this work will argue that many of the basic, historical aspects of firm location identified by the pioneers of spatial analysis remain profoundly relevant today because these enable us to place the modern firm in an appropriate spatial and economic context. We may then combine these fundamental insights with more recent work on infrastructure flexibility, transactions, types of knowledge, and the importance of face-to-face interaction to flesh out a portrait of industrial location in the telecommunications age. Direct evidence of these strategies in action has been difficult to collect because so many of the inputs to, outputs from, and interactions between firms are invisible. Moreover, traditional social science approaches to data collection and analysis are unable to cope with the flood of information that characterises advanced service economies. The direct study of telecommunications data promises a new and massively scalable way to visualise and explore these crucial connections, but as yet there is little consensus on how to approach such data. Using very large, but fine-grained data sets from a major British telecommunications company and a large American telecommunications company, and drawing upon the ‘eigenplace’ methodology developed in collaboration with Francesco Calabrese of the SENSEable City Lab at M.I.T. (Reades et al., 2009; Calabrese et al., 2010), this work explores the extent to which telecommunications flows—in terms of their timing, volume, and geography—can be correlated with firm location and industrial clustering. The finding of industrial ‘signatures’ in telecommunications data provides evidence of informational strategies at work, and sheds light on the likely future shape of urban and regional economies.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The place of telecommunications: spatial decision-making by firms in the age of global communications
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from the e-thesis
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Planning
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1306803
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