by David Elvin Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript : eBook Archival Material Computer File
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Abstract of thesis   (2009-06-04)
ABSTRACT: Import substitution presents many economic development opportunities that can
help regions achieve greater economic sustainability and self-reliance. Yet import
substitution is largely neglected in economic development theory, practice and literature.
There are few methods and resources available to planners trying to identify import
substitution opportunities. However, impending economic challenges, such as energy
market instability, climate change and carbon emissions regulation, mean that planners
will be called upon with greater frequency and urgency to help regional economies adapt.
This study offers and evaluates two methods for identifying import substitution
opportunities within a regional economy. The first method is rooted in economic base
theory, the dominant approach to regional economic development since the 1930s. The
second method is derived from industrial cluster analysis, a much-used economic
planning approach since the 1990s. Analysis of these two methods and their application
to the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area suggest that: 1) both
methods show promise as screening tools to help planners focus economic development
resources on subsequent industry research efforts, such as surveys, which are essential to
the development of effective policy initiatives; 2) the industrial cluster analysis method is
capable of identifying a wider range of candidate industries; 3) the economic base theory
method may be more effective in smaller regions; and 4) the economic base theory
method is useful for estimating leakage.
The study also demonstrates that import substitution integrates aspects of
economic base theory, particularly the capability to identify leakage and opportunities to
increase industry multipliers, with the facets of industrial cluster analysis that emphasize
local inter-industry linkages and value chain networks.
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