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Anthropology, Space, and Geographic Information Systems$
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Mark Aldenderfer and Herbert D. G. Maschner

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195085754

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195085754.001.0001

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The Use of GIS to Measure Spatial Patterns of Ethnic Firms in the Los Angeles Garment Industry

The Use of GIS to Measure Spatial Patterns of Ethnic Firms in the Los Angeles Garment Industry

(p.44) 3 The Use of GIS to Measure Spatial Patterns of Ethnic Firms in the Los Angeles Garment Industry
Anthropology, Space, and Geographic Information Systems

Christopher G. Arnold

Richard P. Appelbaum

Oxford University Press

The purpose of this chapter is to describe the methodology and present some initial results in our efforts to understand the role of spatial organization in ethnic economies of the Los Angeles garment industry. Our research goal was to provide a spatial dimension to our database in order to test theories maintaining that space is a critical component of economic transactions. To this end, we created analytical grids of various resolutions using three GIS functions: address matching, polygon generation, and identity overlay. The grids were then transformed into matrices and tested for spatial autocorrelations using Statistical Analysis System (SAS) routines proposed by Griffith (1992). The following section presents brief arguments for the importance of space from the perspectives of industrial district and ethnic economy theories. The third section describes the research site and data sources. The fourth section outlines the analytical concerns of spatial autocorrelation and the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP), which leads to a discussion of the relevant GIS operations in the fifth section. The sixth section presents spatial autocorrelation measures that show a direct relationship between spatial concentration and economic success in the Los Angeles garment district. The concluding section summarizes the importance of GIS as an analytical tool. Both industrial district and ethnic economy perspectives are based on assumptions about the importance of space. Business economists and geographers show that arrangements within spatially concentrated, tightly integrated industrial districts are critical to globally competitive industries, rapid information flow, lowered transaction costs, and increased control over production, permitting quick and flexible responses to changing market demands (Scott and Mattingly 1989; Piore and Sable 1884; Storper and Walker 1992; Storper and Christopherson 1987). In particular, Porter (1990)—a Harvard Business School economist and member of former President Reagan’s Council on Competitiveness— emphasizes that geographic concentration increases local competition as well as fostering such “emotional factors” as trust, pride, and bragging rights. Spatial concentration, while less prominent in discussions of ethnic economies, remains an underlying factor in providing a venue for the exchange of cultural capital.

Keywords:   Address matching, Dot map, Geary ratio, Identity overlay, Modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP), Moran coefficient, Polygon generation, Statistical analysis system (SAS)

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