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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
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 Indias 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 cant 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 Hirschmans 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

A major criticism about theory is that in its original form the theory was trying
to replicate and generalise the experience of the West in its 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 its social and ecological
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
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 Indias economy, growth

pole concept may not be perfectly relevant in its 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 Indias economy.
Given the territorial size of country and the diversity of its 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. Singhs model is a good model which has practical relevance in encouraging

decentralisation and dispersion of development across the large country like

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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Franois Perroux's Concept of A Growth Pole

Franois Perroux introduced the idea of economic Growth Poles in 1949. He and
others have written about the concept extensively and yet, despite this or
perhaps because of this, there is no consensus as to what it means. There is
considerable intuitive appeal of the concept and so it has had influence on policy
makers. The policy makers presumed that economists could supply the technical
analysis needed to make sense of the policies based upon the concept of growth
The intuitive notion of growth poles would identify a growth pole as an industry
or perhaps a group of firms with an industry. At an extreme a growth pole might
be a single firm or it might be a group of industries. Perroux, however, defined
growth poles in terms of what he called abstract economic space. Perroux
conceived of abstract economic space to be of three types:

an economic plan
a field of force or influences
a homogeneous aggregate

Perroux specifically denied that abstract economic space could correspond to a

geographic area such as a city or region.
For Perroux the aspect of dominance was important for growth poles. A firm or
industry A is said to be dominant over B if the flow of goods and services from A

to B is a greater proportion of A's output than the flow from B to A is of B's

output. A large firm or industry that has a high degree of interaction with others
and is dominant in that interaction is said to be propulsive. The process of
development of a propulsive firm or industry is called polarization.
Perroux and other writers on growth poles try to base the concept on the notions
of external economies, agglomeration and linkages. An external economy exits if
a change in the output of one firm or one industry affects costs in other firms.
External economies of scale may be negative, as in the case of pollutions costs,
or they may be positive, as in the case of the development of integrated circuit
technology in the electronics industry.
Linkage is a concept developed in regional economics. Linkages may be forward
or backward. If a growth in production in one industry stimulates production in
the industries supplying it then that industry has backward linkages. For
example, the steel industry has backward linkages to the iron ore mining
industry, the coke and coal industries and the transportation industry involved in
transporting those inputs to the steel industry. A forward linkage when the
availability of the output of an industry make possible the production of
industries using that output. For example, the plastic producing industry makes it
feasable for businesses requiring plastic to begin operation.
The French economist, J-R. Bourdeville made a study of the steel industry of the
Brazilian state of Minas Gerais as a growth pole. Despite Perroux's denial that
growth poles are geographic many of the applications of the concept are for
geographic regions.
These applications often are enlightening. For example, the regional economy of
Paris can be considered to be a growth pole. The case of Paris shows that effect
of polarization on the surrounding geographic area is not always positive. The
attraction of Paris has been so great that it has been extremely difficult to
promote any economic development in the area outside of the Paris region.
French planning literature refers to this as the phenomenon of Paris and the
French Desert.
In the U.S. the concept of growth poles has usually taken the form emphasizing
geographic location which are called Growth Centers. Growth centers are related
to the concept of agglomeration. In many ways the American work on growth
centers is virtually independent of Perroux and the French literature on growth
Albert Hirschman uses the term polarization to refer to the negative impact of a
growth pole on surrounding regions. Trickling down is the term he uses for the
positive impact of a growth pole or growth center on adjacent regions. Gunnar
Myrdal, the Swedish economist, use the terms backwash and spread for the
same concepts as Hirschman's polarization and trickling down.
The American economist, John R. Friedman, has developed a concept that is
related but distinct from the ideas of growth poles and growth centers. It is called

the matter of the center versus the periphery. Friedman developed this idea in
analyzing the relationship of the interior regions of Venezuela to the coastal
regions. Others have extended the concept to the relationship of the North
Atlantic center of Westerm Europe and North America to Latin America, Africa
and Southeast Asia.
Altogether the concept of growth poles has been of only marginal importance in
analyzing regional economic problems. Nevertheless the idea of growth poles
has had a major role in formulating regional policy.