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Global Cities, World City, Alpha City or World Center

About Global Cities

  • World city or sometimes alpha city or world center, is a city which is a primary node in the global economic network.
  • Initially on size but later on many parameters
  • Amsterdam, Houston, Mexico City, Paris, Sao Paulo and Zurich
  • Finance, MNCs, trade, economy, innovation, infrastructure, employment & communication
  • The term “global city” , rather than “megacity” , was popularized by sociologist Saskia Sassen in her 1991 work, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo.

Global Cities Versus Mega Cities

  • Today more than 50 per cent of the world՚s population live in urban areas. The number of cities with over 10 million people is increasing. These are called mega-cities.
  • Eight out of ten mega-cities are located in Asia.
  • Top 10 mega cities: Tokyo-Yokohama, Jakarta, Delhi, Manila, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai, Karachi, Beijing, New York, Guangzhou-Foshan

Why Global Cities Rose?

  • Globalization of economies and the centralization of mass production within urban centers
  • Emergence of networks
  • The rise of global cities has been linked with two globalization-related trends: first, the expansion of the role of transnational corporations (TNCs) in global production patterns and, second, the decline of mass production along Fordist lines and the concomitant rise of flexible production centred within urban areas.

Characteristics of Global Cities

  • Home to major stock exchanges and indexes
  • Influential in international political affairs
  • Home to world-renowned cultural institutions
  • Service a major media hub
  • Large mass transit networks
  • Home to a large international airport
  • Having a prominent skyline
  • A variety of international financial services, notably in finance, insurance, real estate, banking, accountancy, and marketing
  • Headquarters of several multinational corporations
  • The existence of financial headquarters, a stock exchange, and major financial institutions
  • Domination of the trade and economy of a large surrounding area
  • Major manufacturing centres with port and container facilities
  • Considerable decision-making power on a daily basis and at a global level
  • Centres of new ideas and innovation in business, economics, culture, and politics
  • Centres of media and communications for global networks
  • Dominance of the national region with great international significance
  • High percentage of residents employed in the services sector and information sector
  • High-quality educational institutions, including renowned universities, international student attendance, and research facilities
  • Multi-functional infrastructure offering some of the best legal, medical, and entertainment facilities in the country
  • High diversity in language, culture, religion, and ideologies.

Problems of Global Cities

Disembedding of cities from their national territorial base, so that they occupy an extraterritorial space.

Ethnic conflict

Segmented labor market

Consumerist lifestyles

Global Cities Index

According to the A. T. Kearney՚s Global Cities Index 2017

The ranking is based on 27 metrics across five dimensions: business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement and was updated in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015,2016, and 2017. Since 2015 it has been published together with a separate index called the Global Cities Outlook: a projection of a city՚s potential based on rate of change in 13 indicators across four dimensions: personal well-being, economics, innovation, and governance.

Global City Competitiveness Index: In 2012, the Economist Intelligence Unit (The Economist Group) , ranked the competitiveness of global cities according to their demonstrated ability to attract capital, businesses, talent and visitors

One example is AT Kearney՚s list, developed in conjunction with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Their most recent version is the 2012 Global Cities Index. This study uses criteria across five dimensions:

Business Activity (headquarters, services firms, capital markets value, number of international conferences, value of goods through ports and airports)

Human Capital (size of foreign born population, quality of universities, number of international schools, international student population, number of residents with college degrees)

Information Exchange [accessibility of major TV news channels, Internet presence (basically number of search hits) , number of international news bureaus, censorship, and broadband subscriber rate]

Cultural Experience (number of sporting event, museums, performing arts venues, culinary establishments, international visitors, and sister city relationships) .

Political Engagement (number of embassies and consulates, think tanks, international organizations, political conferences)

Global Power City Index 2011

  • The Institute for Urban Strategies at The Mori Memorial Foundation in Tokyo published another study called “The Global Power City Index 2011.” This report examined cities in terms of functions demanded by several “actor” types: Manager, Researcher, Artist, Visitor, and Resident. The functional areas were:
  • Economy (Market Attractiveness, Economic Vitality, Business Environment, Regulations and Risk)
  • Research and Development (Research Background, Readiness for Accepting and Supporting Researchers, Research Achievement)
  • Cultural Interaction (Trendsetting Potential, Accommodation Environment, Resources of Attracting Visitors, Dining and Shopping, Volume of Interaction)
  • Livability (Working Environment, Cost of Living, Security and Safety, Life Support Functions)
  • Environment (Ecology, Pollution, Natural Environment)
  • Accessibility (International Transportation Infrastructure, Inner City Transportation Infrastructure)

Global City Competitiveness Index

  • Another popular ranking is the Economist Intelligence Unit՚s Global City Competitiveness Index. They rank cities on a number of domains:
  • Economic Strength (Nominal GDP, per capita GDP, % of households with economic consumption > $ 14,000/yr, real GDP growth rate, regional market integration)
  • Human Capital (population growth, working age population, entrepreneurship and risk taking mindset, quality of education, quality of healthcare, hiring of foreign nationals)
  • Institutional Effectiveness (electoral process and pluralism, local government fiscal autonomy, taxation, rule of law, government effectiveness)
  • Financial Maturity (breadth and depth of financial cluster)
  • Global Appeal (Fortune 500 companies, frequency of international flights, international conferences and conventions, leadership in higher education, renowned think tanks)
  • Physical Capital (physical nfrastructure quality, public transport quality, telecom quality)
  • Environment and Natural Hazards (risk of natural disaster, environmental governance)
  • Social and Cultural Character (freedom of expression and human rights, openness and diversity, crime, cultural vibrancy)
Image: The Global Cities Index

Perspective of a Global City

  • Advanced producer services production node: This is basically Sassen՚s original definition. I think this one remains particularly important. Because the skills are specialized and subject to clustering economics, the cities that concentrate in these functions have a Buffett-like “wide moat” sustainable competitive advantage in particular very high value activities. For cities with large concentrations of these, those cities can generate significantly above average economic output and incomes per worker.
  • Economic giants: Namely, this is a fairly simple but important view of that simply measures how big cities are on some metrics like GDP.
  • International Gateway: Measures of the importance of a city in the international flows of people and goods. Examples would be the airport and cargo gateway figures.
  • Political and Cultural Hub: An important distinction should perhaps be made here between hubs that may be large but of primarily national or regional importance, and those of truly international significance. For example, there are many media hubs around the world, but few of them are home to outlets like the BBC that drive the global conversation.

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