Growth Centres and Growth Poles

This is one of the earliest growth theories based on the principle of deliberate imbalanced growth. The concept of ‘Growth pole’ was developed by Francis Perroux in 1955.

According to Francis Perroux, growth does not appear everywhere at the same time, it occurs in poles, centres and points with variable intensity. It spreads with different channel with variable terminal effects on the economy as a whole.

The growth pole concept was further expanded to geographical space by Bouldeville.

While planning for an economy because not all sectors have the same propensity (natural tendency) of growth, some sectors can be identifies and focused upon as growth centre and these are those sectors which should be dominant, propulsive and should have multiplier effect to impact the economy as a whole.

The growth centre of Perroux was based on the concept of functional linkage because without functional interaction spread of growth along different channels is not possible and nor will result in multiplier and propulsive effect.

This implies growth centres, which can be propulsive of for the economy as a whole and can act as engine of growth, cannot be identified in absolute terms. The growth centre is economy specific in nature e.g. despite its market presence, scale of operation, levels of innovation biotech sectors & firms like Biocon may not be the best choice of growth centre in India which retains its agrarian character as a whole.

Similarly in early phases of planning ignoring agri and encouraging large capital intensive industries alone like steel plants, power plants may not have been the best choice for overall development of Indian economy. In India, given its predominance of agri with more than 80% of population directly or indirectly dependent on it, rural character of India’s landscape, agro based industries are probably a better choice as growth centre because agri has a strong functional linkage in objectives like rural dev, food security, local resource availability, employment potential for the unskilled labourers and for trade that is still dominated by agri and allied products.

This idea has relevance in planning because according to this theory, all sectors and all dimensions of economy can’t be planned for at the same time and consequence of growth may not spread and impact with same intensity.

• A very innovative insight in understanding growth and how development can be planned by focusing on some industries and some locations.

• The theory became basis of many growth models across the developing world such as Mehalnobis model in 2nd FYP of India.

• The model was also used as the basis of other theories like Hirschman’s Trickle Down Theory and Core Periphery Theory of Thomas Friedman.

• First problem is the identification and selection of growth pole. If an independent or arbitrary decision is made, the resource base may not be sustainable.

• A major criticism about theory is that in it’s original form the theory was trying to replicate and generalise the experience of the West in it’s industralisation based development to be universally applicable to the developing world.

• In modern interpretations the concept of development itself has undergone a drastic change where development is no longer solely measured in terms of economic parameters. Hence growth centre can now be identified not only on the basis of economic factors but also in terms of it’s social and ecological relevance.

• There are also criticisms regarding growth centre that it has also been responsible for disparities in development. However disparities are not so much because of concept but more because of faulty implementation of concept in the absence of existing functional linkages with the hinterland and the associated economy.

• Problem of appropriate span over which to judge success or failure- say 16 to 25 years may be too long in any social order and political system. In fact, an elected government would like to have positive results within four or five years before the commencement of the new election.

Relevance in India: Because of certain uniqueness of India’s economy, growth pole concept may not be perfectly relevant in it’s original form & there are examples where the growth centers & growth poles have remained islands of development and have not resulted in spread of benefits.

The reasons are:
India is largely an agrarian economy and the traditional industralisation based model may not be best applicable for India’s economy.

Given the territorial size of country and the diversity of it’s economy, it is not possible to focus on only one growth centre which has national relevance.

R. P. Singh suggested a 5 level hierarchy in the types of growth poles & growth centres to address developmental objectives, right through the village level to urban industrial centres.

Growth Foci, Service centres, Growth Points, Growth Centre, growth centre at national level
R. P. Singh’s model is a good model which has practical relevance in encouraging decentralisation and dispersion of development across the large country like India.

Growth centre:
The concept of growth poles has usually taken the form emphasizing geographic locations which are called Growth Centers. Growth centers are related to the concept of agglomeration.

(Some places, by virtue of their favoured location relative to sources of materials, markets, labour and so on are economically more attractive and thus form natural growth poles and expand faster than other areas. These growth pole are usually urban-industrial complexes and offer economies of agglomeration.)

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  Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 at 6:24 AM under   Geography