Assessing the determinants of location : with particular reference to science parks in the United Kingdom; a philosophical investigation.
Understanding of the 'market' for property development is critical to the procedure of
property research. But this market's constitution is fundamentally derived from the end users of
property - namely the occupiers / tenants. It in turn, therefore, becomes appropriate that an
endeavour into property research explores what determines occupiers' / tenants' choice of
location. By exploring the underlying logic and reasoning that the 'end users' of property bring to
their decision-making we may come to a better understanding of the market.
Science parks in the UK, and indeed globally, are typically predicated upon the ideal of
'proactively' accommodating the needs of their occupying companies. Such companies are for the
most part small, start-up enterprises for whom the science park developer / manager actively
makes provisions of facilities and services as well as physical accommodation, that may nurture
and enhance the prospects of potentially vulnerable business ventures. It is therefore evident that
the concept of science parks is founded upon principles that would bridge the gap between
'property developer' and 'property user'. It is apparent that these 'principles' would heighten
knowledge and understanding of the market for the property that is science parks. Implicit to the
science park concept, then, is recognizance that property and in particular its management
concerns far more than mere considerations for its physical, fiscal and quantitative characteristics;
the success or otherwise of a property development is distinctly influenced by the perceptions and
qualities that are attached to the property. Such perceptions and qualities are, thus, distinct players
in the determination of location.
The research therefore takes as its focus the predominantly perception borne qualitative
variables that act as location determinants. Consequent to literature review and piloting surveys a
system of classification, (categories), of science park tenants for analysis is developed and a host
of location determinants / variables was derived for inclusion in the 'main survey'. Via the
administration of the 'main' questionnaire survey to occupiers of science park premises
throughout the United Kingdom these qualitative variables are examined. The survey methodology
introduces measurement and thus quantitative assessments of, what are termed, 'primary',
'secondary' and 'minor' determinants of location, but the qualitative origin of these determinants
is not treated disparagingly. Indeed a central contention of the thesis is that if true knowledge and
understanding of the 'market' is to be achieved the underlying logic and reasoning for the
quantitative responses to the qualitative variables / determinants must be pursued. The analysis
therefore is conducted through narrative, description and circumspection for the sources of
response to the inquiry.
Having exercised such circumspection in consideration of the sources of response,
propositions are made as to the nature of location determinants for each of the categories of science
park tenant, (respondent), that have been generated through review and piloting. These
propositions are, then, in turn checked for their veracity against a further, independent sample of
science park tenants. That is - a follow-up survey is conducted the results of which are used to
check the extent to which agreement exists between the two independent samples. With high
degrees of agreement between the main survey results and those of the follow-up survey, the
propositions may be upheld as valid representations of location determinants for science parks in
The primary findings, pursuant to this procedure, would indicate that though science parks
are predicated upon principles of altruistic origin in their support for the initiation of new, high
technology orientated business, commercial realities may be seen to impinge upon such altruism.
Consequently the tenants of science park premises are found to be only limitedly motivated by the
additional facilities and services that may be offered by science parks. Instead they are found to be
more distinctively motivated, (i.e. their location is determined), by fundamental and basic
concerns for adequacy, appropriateness and the affordability of their premises.