Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Economic Geography
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Economic Geography

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.
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Chapter 17: Regional social network analysis

Maureen Kilkenny


Why is ‘social network analysis’ in a book about economic geography? Economic geography is about ‘what happens where’. A traditional hypothesis was that the physical and geographic characteristics of a region determined its economy. An exemplary application of this ‘geographic’ or ‘environmental determinism’ is the prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel by the biogeographer Jared Diamond, 1999. The hypothesis is amenable to deterministic modeling using regional input–output (e.g. Polenske, 1980), interregional computable general equilibrium (e.g. Kilkenny, 1993), or ‘new economic geography’ methods (Fujita et al., 1999). But models focusing on resource endowments and productive activities alone do not always explain or predict regional economic outcomes. Surprisingly, such models do not explain why rural non-farm activity has grown in developed countries even though the numbers of farmers tied to land and overland transport costs have fallen dramatically (Kilkenny and Partridge, 2009). Nor can they explain why well-endowed once-rich regions have become poor (Acemoglu et al., 2002).

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