Quaternary Industry

GCSE Geography Resources

Are you looking for high-quality GCSE Geography resources? If so, you can save yourself a lot of time by downloading our modules below.


Compatible with the following exam boards

Quaternary Industry

The Quaternary Industry plays a significant role in developing a country’s knowledge and scientific base. This industry, similar to the Tertiary Industry, focuses on services and intangible aspects of the economy. The difference between the two relates to the specialised component noticed in the Quaternary Industry. For example, this industry provides access to scientists, researchers and developers to explore and identify new inventions. These discoveries allow for an improved lifestyle for the country’s citizens.

The Quaternary Industry aims to provide people with an opportunity to reflect on their specialised knowledge. It mostly undertaken by experts who outsource their knowledge to schools, research or data centres. 

Many times we notice interpretations by experts on a specific data field, for example, weather patterns. These experts use their specialised fields to assist the other sectors with relevant research material. For any country to remain sustainable, they require scientists to invent better ways of doing things. 

Let us see what the Quaternary Industry means for us daily. 

What is a Quaternary Industry?

The Quaternary Industry relates to the component of the economy that is associated with specific business activity. It is also similar to the tertiary component on the services portion of a country’s capabilities. The Quaternary Industry offers a more specialised approach, for example, business consulting, research and development, data collection or specialised financial services.

The Tertiary Industry involves the provision of direct services to specific customers. Some services are related to sales or retail businesses. This portion of the economy also includes a majority of luxury-related services, especially in the tourism industry. Networking in the Quaternary Industry plays a significant role in the marketing environment, for example.

What types of Quaternary Industries exist?

Overlaps exist between the Tertiary and Quaternary Industries because both focus on the service components. The Quaternary component provides an advanced level of services provided, for example, statisticians, data collectors or software experts. These services are usually provided by different experts and fields mostly on a contract basis. Meaning a specific service is required only for a certain time. There are also more permanent positions available at specialised health practitioners, university professors, specialised financial institutions or consultancy firms.

Other examples that exist in the quaternary field relate to cultural awareness, media houses, television or radio stations. The workforce that operates in this field normally presents highly educated individuals within different spheres of society.

What are the characteristics of Quaternary Industries?

Sometimes the Quaternary Industry is referred to as the knowledge sector. It associates with specialised knowledge, specific research projects, scientific thinking and planning, libraries and constant development of information technological advancements. In developed countries, for example, the UK, over 70% of individuals form part of this sector. These specialised skills allow constant innovation and discovery, and feedback to the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary components.

A large part of this industry focuses on the development of new medicines, health treatments, and improved methods to communicate and archive or use data. Increasingly individuals become involved in the Quaternary Industry, with more people attending university and developing specialised skills. Some examples of research relate to the identification of innovative ideas to improve the technology base.

Financial specialists aim to provide the economy with an improved understanding of how to manage investments. This sector presents a significant opportunity for innovation in all fields within the economy. Besides, because of the intensive efforts placed on research and development, it focuses on content marketing. Content marketing plays a key role to understand customers and what they want. The Quaternary Sector focuses on understanding the way humankind thinks and operates.

The Quaternary Sector also aims to provide the business sector with the ability to advance its services. Meaning it allows for a specialised environment where individuals use their expert skills to contribute to a progressive economic environment. This area focuses on the development of quality services and the ability for entrepreneurs to operate within.

What are the key positives related to the Quaternary Industry?

The Quaternary Industry offers diverse positives to the advantage of a country’s economy. These relate to the following:

  • It allows for a specialised space where entrepreneurial thinking is instrumental. Individuals use this area to identify and develop new products. 
  • This sector provides countries with an opportunity to focus on finding new ways to support the other sectors. For example, scientists find opportunities to identify new insecticides that assist in the agriculture sector. 
  • The specialised sector provides the workforce with an ability to advance their skills to a higher level. It allows consultants, for example, to operate on a higher knowledge level and provide support to existing structures. 
  • The Quaternary Industry allocates significant time to enhance existing knowledge systems within the information technology environment.
  • Large-scale companies generally invest significant funds to ensure the development of the Quaternary Industry. 

What are the key negatives related to the Quaternary Industry?

The same as with other industries, there are various negatives relating to the field. Some concerns experienced in the Quaternary Industry link to the following:

  • It remains an exceptionally specialised environment and tends to decline during poor economic conditions. Meaning it does not put food on the table, but focuses indirectly on new methods of planting seeds more successfully.
  • This sector comprises highly skilled people and requires significant investment to compensate these specialised individuals. 
  • The Quaternary Industry reflects a white-collar field and only provides a limited amount of job opportunities.

Check out our GCSE and A-Level Teaching Resources on Resource Management

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main sectors in the Quaternary Industry environment? 

The Quaternary Industry relates to key main sectors. These sectors include the services industry. Meaning it provides access to intangible services, for example, specialised financial consultation. It also focuses on the knowledge field, research, and development as well as the information technology environment.

Is the Quaternary Industry typical of a developing or developed country? 

The Quaternary Industry presents a much larger focus in developed countries. The UK, for example, provides a significant quantity of work opportunities in this sector. The highly specialised fields mostly require educational backgrounds and attendance at universities.

What are the effects of the Quaternary Industry on the economy of a country? 

The Quaternary Industry provides significant positive effects on a country. One of the key aspects relates to the advancement of a country’s scientific skills. These scientific discoveries increase a country’s ability to grow economically and maintain a good standard of living for its citizens. For example, new inventions relate to improved medicines and a much healthier society.

Can we live without the Quaternary Industry? 

The Quaternary Industry forms part of each country’s economy and growth. The realisation remains that the more advanced countries have the ability to expand these services more effectively. The developing countries sometimes only contain a small portion of this service component. Each society across the world needs to participate in scientific thinking and innovation to ensure economic growth.

Is the Quaternary Industry experiencing threats? 

The biggest threat experienced by these industries relates to the strength of the economy. Normally during an economic decline countries focus more on their primary and secondary sectors. The Quaternary sector requires significant educational and research funding, which become a problem in less advanced countries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What distinguishes quaternary industries from other industry sectors?

Quaternary industries focus on knowledge-based activities, including research, information technology, education, and professional services.

Give an example of a quaternary industry.

Software development companies are a prime example of quaternary industries, as they create and provide digital products and services.

How does research and development (R&D) contribute to the quaternary industry sector?

R&D activities in fields like pharmaceuticals and technology are part of the quaternary sector, driving innovation and new product development.

What role does education play in the quaternary industry?

Educational institutions, including universities and online learning platforms, are essential components of the quaternary sector, providing knowledge and skills.

How does the quaternary industry contribute to economic growth?

Quaternary industries contribute by producing intellectual property, technology advancements, and services that enhance productivity and drive economic development.


Cite/Link to This Article

  • "Quaternary Industry". Geography Revision. Accessed on April 22, 2024. https://geography-revision.co.uk/gcse/industry/quaternary-industry/.

  • "Quaternary Industry". Geography Revision, https://geography-revision.co.uk/gcse/industry/quaternary-industry/. Accessed 22 April, 2024.

  • Quaternary Industry. Geography Revision. Retrieved from https://geography-revision.co.uk/gcse/industry/quaternary-industry/.