Table of Contents

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Economic Geography

Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Economic Geography

Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series

Edited by Charlie Karlsson, Martin Andersson and Therese Norman

The main purpose of this Handbook is to provide overviews and assessments of the state-of-the-art regarding research methods, approaches and applications central to economic geography. The chapters are written by distinguished researchers from a variety of scholarly traditions and with a background in different academic disciplines including economics, economic, human and cultural geography, and economic history. The resulting handbook covers a broad spectrum of methodologies and approaches applicable in analyses pertaining to the geography of economic activities and economic outcomes.

Chapter 23: Applied spatial interaction modelling in economic geography: an example of the use of models for public sector planning

Mark Birkin, Hamzah Khawaldah, Martin Clarke and Graham Clarke

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, geography, economic geography, research methods in geography, research methods, research methods in economics, research methods in geography, urban and regional studies, regional economics, research methods in urban and regional studies


Spatial interaction models have a long history of applied usage in regional science and economic geography, especially in relation to the economic modelling of retail systems. In this chapter we present an application of spatial interaction modelling that shows how a model can be built and calibrated to examine the economic impacts of a large new shopping centre development on existing retail trade patterns. The main purpose of the chapter is to illustrate the building and calibrating of a highly disaggregated spatial interaction model. However, a second aim is to consider why, despite the popularity of these types of models within quantitative geography and regional science, the use of such models in UK public sector planning departments declined in the 1980s and 1990s. The interaction models were often replaced by ‘simpler’ methods of retail impact assessment (for more details of the alternatives see England, 2000; Khawaldah et al., 2012). At the same time, the models gained popularity in the private sector and have become part of the kitbag of techniques used by a number of blue chip retail organizations in the planning of their retail store networks (especially companies such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK). Birkin et al. (2002, 2010) demonstrate the detailed model disaggregation necessary for the models to work in the private sector – to date there is very little complementary research in relation to public sector models.

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