Enterprises, external economies, and economic development

Edward J. Feser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has recently been a revival of interest in the planning community in the role of interfirm synergies, externalities, and spillovers as sources of competitive advantage for groups of colocated businesses (e.g., in industrial districts, clusters, and complexes). An increasing number of cities and states are adopting a variety of economic development planning initiatives based on the advantages of geographic concentration. This article reviews and critiques the central theoretical and empirical approaches to the concept of spatial external economies and the firm, with a view toward clarifying the core range of definitions and perspectives. It suggests that these often competing perspectives must be better meshed to yield richer and more robust planning and policy prescriptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-302
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Planning Literature
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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