From Combines to Computers

Rural Services and Development in the Age of Information Technology

By Amy K. Glasmeier & Marie Howland

Subjects: Economics
Series: SUNY series, The New Inequalities
Paperback : 9780791422007, 291 pages, November 1994
Hardcover : 9780791421994, 291 pages, November 1994

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Table of contents

List of Figures

List of Tables


1. Introduction

Why a Concern about Services Now?

The Transformation of the Structure of the U.S. Economy

The Role of Services in Rural America: An Outline of the Book

The Current Rural Situation

2. Rural Services in an Age of Information Technology: Definitions, Theories, and Empirical Evidence

Defining Services

Social Change and the Growth of Services

The Growth Experience of Services in Peripheral Areas

What the Service Sector Means for Development in Rural Areas

Models of Service Industry Development and Location


3. Rural Services: A New Source of Export-Led Development or a Continuing Dependence on Traditional Sectors?

Manufacturing's Experience

An Overview of Services Growth in America

The Top Ten Job-Generating Industries: A Comparison of the National and Rural Experiences

Percentage Change in Services at the National Level

Economic Diversity and the Structure of Services

Services as a Share of Total Rural Employment


4. Producer Services: Back Offices, Niche Markets, New Exports?

The National View of Complex Corporate Activities

Patterns of Growth in Export-Oriented Producer Services


5. Rural Computer Services in an International Economy

Computer Services: The Expectation

Overview of Rural Computer Services

Computer Programming in Rural Economies

Data Entry and Processing in Rural Economies


6. The Changing Face of Banking in Rural Communities

Competitive Context Steers Structural Changes and Market Orientation

The Case Studies

Discussion of the Case Studies and Their Implications


7. The Transformation of the Residentiary Sector: From Local Services to Branch Operations

Retail Services

Case Study: Olney, Illinois

Consumer Services


8. Conclusions

The Service Economy in Rural America

Implications for Development Practice

Strategies for Rural Service Exporters

Implications for Development Theory

Appendix I: Geographic System Used to Identify Rural Areas

Appendix II: Data Sources and Limitations

The Organizational Basis of County Business Patterns, Recent Revisions and Classification Changes

USEEM Dataset





Through an analysis of national data and detailed case studies, From Combines to Computers examines how the transition to a service economy is playing out for rural America. It answers two important questions: Will services fill the gap left by lost farming, manufacturing, and mining jobs? And will services stabilize, even revitalize, rural areas? Glasmeier and Howland document the intraregional spatial patterns and trends of services in the national economy, compare services in urban and rural communities, and identify the potential and limitations of rural development strategies based on services. In particular, they document the growing dominance of branch plants, the displacement of "mom-and-pop" enterprises, and the declining access to services for residents in the least populated rural areas. The authors conclude that services are unlikely to be the basis of widespread sustainable development unless policies are designed to help firms and communities compete successfully in an increasingly global and information-based economy

Amy K. Glasmeier is Associate Professor of Geography and Regional Planning at The Pennsylvania State University. Marie Howland is Director and Associate Professor of the Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of Maryland.


"This book targets an important but little understood element of the rural economy and systematically debunks some prevalent myths about changes that are occurring in rural America. While doing this, the authors clearly articulate key theoretical issues about rural socioeconomic change and convincingly ground their conclusions with their empirical analyses." — Forrest A. Deseran, Colorado State University

"This is the first large-scale, systematic treatment of service industries in rural areas. It is an original and genuine contribution to the literature on rural industrial development." — Charles M. Tolbert, Louisiana State University