About cities and economics Reply

In the introduction to Economics we typically teach students that it is all about unlimited wants and scare resources and the key questions that we need to answer are WHAT, HOW and FOR WHOM to produce. Another aspect is WHERE production and consumption happens and Porter (1998) provided an intuitive explanation of the importance of the clustering of economic activity.

A cluster can be any town of city where you find a critical mass of producers in a particular field located together. This is the result of so-called localisation economies that affect the business environment, competition, and growth.  Firstly, factors of production influence the location of firms. These range from basic inputs such as physical infrastructure, to information.  In clusters, the fact that firms are close to one another lead to spillovers that improve the flow of information and the success of innovation.  This is also true for related and supporting industries.  They provide specialised inputs and information, and facilitate sharing among firms.  Materials, components, machinery and services are supplied more efficiently and at lower cost when producers are concentrated in a particular town or city.  Location also plays a role in firm strategy and rivalry.  If you are closer to your competitors, you imitate and learn from each other, everyone tries to make their product slightly different and better and this leads to growth.  In the final instance, the demand conditions in a locality may also influence the business environment, competition, and growth.  Sophisticated and demanding customers at home press firms to improve and differentiate and a cluster may provide such a group of customers.  Thus, Porter (1998) saw the enduring competitive advantages in a global economy as localised.  Proximity allows for relationships, better information and other advantages in productivity and productivity growth.

Now these things are not only discussed in academic circles. Yesterday evening saw a lively Twitter discussion on the future of cities. The participants did not really mention localisation economies or spillovers, but these concepts are there behind some interesting comments on drivers of growth, innovation, the environment, institutions and communities. Have a look at our Storify summary of the discussion:

[View the story “Tweet for cities” on Storify]

Die toekoms van produksie en verbruik? Reply

Verlede en die toekoms?
Bron: The Economist

Ons leer aspirant ekonome dat produksie van goedere en dienste gaan oor spesialisasie, arbeidsverdeling en skaalvoordele. Verbruik word tipies beskryf in terme van nutsmaksimering en mense se voorliefde vir verskeidenheid. Ek het onlangs twee interessante stukke gelees wat mens nuut laat dink oor die toekoms van produksie en verbruik.

Produksie gaan beïnvloed word deur nuwe toerusting, prosesse en materiale – ‘n onlangse spesiale verslag in The Economist beskryf dit as ‘n Derde Nywerheidsomwenteling:

  • Vervaardiging is toenemend digitaal en 3D-drukkers en robotte word oral gebruik.
  • Prosesse en komponente word so gestandaardiseer dat meer modelle in dieselfde produksielyn vervaardig kan word.
  • Materiale soos koolstofvesels vervang staal en aluminium in produkte.

Dit alles help om vervaardiging meer buigsaam te maak. Vervaardigers kan nuwe produkte vinniger op die mark kry en winsgewend pasmaak vir individue. Die verslag voorsien dat dit alles belangrike gevolge gaan hê:

  • ‘n Kleiner hoeveelheid arbeid gaan nodig wees en die arbeiders sal hoogsgeskoold moet wees.
  • Die koste van arbeid gaan minder belangrik wees en eerder as om produksie uit te kontrakteer na Sjina, gaan ondernemings nader aan hul verbruikersmarkte wil wees om vervoerkoste te spaar en produkte aan te pas vir plaaslike smaak en voorkeure.
  • Klein- en medium-grootte ondernemings sal kan deelneem en meeding in vervaardiging.
  • Daar gaan geleenthede wees in die “groen”-ekonomie.

Johan Fourie skryf op sy blog meer oor die gevolge vir werkers.

Aan die verbruikskant was daar weer ‘n interessante Wêreldbank blog oor sogenaamde “collaborative consumption”. Volgs die artikel is die nuuste neiging onder jong stedelinge om geld, hulpbronne en tyd te spaar. Eerder as om self ‘n kar te koop, teken mense in die VSA in op die Zipcar diens waardeur jy ‘n kar kan huur per uur, soos wat jy dit nodig het. Ander gebruik die internet om saamrygeleenthede te bied en te benut: in sommige stede moet bestuurders sonder enige passasiers meer tolgelde betaal en dit spaar letterlik geld om te deel. Daar is ook dienste waardeur jy vinnig ‘n das kan huur vir ‘n vergadering met die baas (sien Tie Society), ‘n hammer, boor of saag vir die werk by die huis, of  in New York, ‘n skaap om jou gras kort te hou! Regoor die wêrld is daar skemas om fietse te deel en te huur.

So as jy ‘n Econ-1 student is en leer van produksiemoontlikheidskrommes, of vraag en aanbod, hou gerus die nuwe eras van produksie en verbruik ingedagte.

Open day in pictures Reply

The School of Economics participated in the Open day of the NWU-Pukke campus today. We met some friendly parents and keen prospective students. We hope to see you guys on campus in 2013. Here are a few photos:

Opedag 2012 1

More is Opedag op die NWU-Pukke kampus en ons blog is vol nuttige inligting. Volg gerus ons skakels vir meer oor die program, die lokaal waar ons aanbiedings gaan hou, watter BCom opsies daar is, hoekom Skool vir Ekonomie the greatest is…

Ons aanbieding is in Prezi formaat en om een of ander rede wil dit nou nie hier “embed” nie. Maar ons kan dit darem deel met ‘n goeie ou skakel: Kliek hier vir ‘n zoom-aanbieding vir Opedag 2012.

Sien jou more op die NWU-Pukke kampus!