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By : Marina van Geenhuizen

It is often taken for granted that e-commerce is changing the space economy in a profound way. There is, however, a lack of knowledge about the comprehensiveness of the changes, particularly about strategic reasons for companies to use the new technologies and barriers to this use. This article first attempts to clarify the strategic context in which companies adopt e-commerce, the level of actual use and the obstacles. Next, the focus shifts to organizational change and location behaviour, including an empirical analysis of some manufacturing and services sectors. There are two main conclusions. First, no huge growth in e-commerce is expected in the near future. Barriers are widespread among companies and consumers, and some of them may not disappear in the short term due to shortcomings in electronic communication. There is however one trend among companies that pushes e-commerce to higher levels, viz. outsourcing of manufacturing to low-cost labour countries and/or new market areas. Secondly, there are trends towards both concentration and spread of jobs in cities, with spread causing a loss of low-level routine jobs in particular places. What impacts these trends will have on the housing market is difficult to foresee, as the labour market reactions, e.g. in terms of increasing the educational level of the population, are not known. The implications for spatial planning relate mainly to service (shopping) centres and traditional manufacturing sites.

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