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The hub-and-spoke distribution paradigm (or model or network) is a system of connections arranged like a chariot wheel, in which all traffic moves along spokes connected to the hub at the center. The model is commonly used in industry, in particular in transport, telecommunications and freight, as well as in distributed computing.
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The hub-and-spoke model is most frequently compared to the point-to-point transit model.
In 1955 Delta Air Lines pioneered the hub and spoke system at its hub in Atlanta, Georgia , in an effort to compete with Eastern Air Lines. In the mid-1970s FedEx adopted the hub and spoke model for overnight package delivery, and after the airline industry was deregulated in 1978, Delta's hub and spoke paradigm was adopted by several other airlines.
Airlines have extended the hub-and-spoke model in various ways. One method is to create additional hubs on a regional basis, and to create major routes between the hubs. This reduces the need to travel long distances between nodes that are close together. Another method is to use focus cities to implement point-to-point service for high traffic routes, bypassing the hub entirely.
The spoke-hub model is applicable to other forms of transportation:
For passenger road transport, the spoke-hub model does not apply because drivers generally take the shortest or fastest route between two points.
The hub-and-spoke model has also been used in economic geography theory to classify a particular type of industrial district. Ann Markusen, an economic geographer, theorised about industrial districts, where a number of key industrial firms and facilities act as a hub, with associated businesses and suppliers benefiting from their presence and arranged around them like the spokes of a wheel. The chief characteristic of such hub-and-spoke industrial districts is the importance of one or more large companies, usually in one industrial sector, surrounded by smaller, associated businesses. Examples of cities with such districts include Seattle (where Boeing was founded), Silicon Valley (a high tech hub), and Toyota City, with Toyota.
In the sphere of East Asian relations, according to Victor Cha, hub-and-spokes refers to the network of bilateral alliances between United States and other individual East Asian countries. United States acts as a "hub" and Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, and China fall under the category "Spokes." Whereas there is a strong alliance between the hub and the spoke, there are no firmly established connections between the spokes themselves. US-Republic of Korea defense treaty of 1953 or US-Republic of China security treaty of 1954 are some of the examples that manifests this relation.
United States chose bilateral relations over multilateral relations because they deemed bilateral alliance as the most effective instrument to control and maximize their leverage in the Asian region. In addition, they considered this measure as an effective way to deter the communist invasion in the Asian region. Their logic in choosing bilateralism over multilateralism was based on the East Asian internal situation at the time. Unlike Europe, the political structure of the Asian region was dynamic ranging from authoritarian regime to democracy. Also each Asian states faced different threats.
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