• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

The concept of carrying capacity has a complex history; the only definition that would capture all of its meanings would be “conveyed or supported by some encompassing context, site, or resource.” However, one can distinguish four major types of carrying capacity concepts since the term was coined circa 1845, and it is the variety of more specific meanings—the different Xs and Ys—and their mutual influences over time that has given the concept both its power and its flaws.

Mechanical Capacity

At its origins, carrying capacity referred to mechanical or engineered attributes of manufactured objects or systems. It arose first in the context of shipping. In 1845, a “tonnage duty” imposed by the Republic of Texas was described as applying to steamboats “according to their carrying capacity only,” ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles