The Emergence of New Global City Hierarchies in Recent Decades, as Development Paths Diverge

Downtown Vancouver Sunset, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, August 8, 2011 | © Courtesy of Magnus Larsson/Flickr.
Downtown Vancouver Sunset, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, August 8, 2011 | © Courtesy of Magnus Larsson/Flickr.

The dynamics of urban center rankings shed light on the place of non-global cities in international economic relations.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


In his article, entitled “Cities as command and control centres of the world economy: An empirical analysis, 2006–2015” and published the Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series in 2017 György Csomós has argued that “[m]ajor cities in developing countries have gradually become important command and control centres of the global economy, and have also become powerful enough to be in the same tier as major cities of developed countries around the world” (7). According to his findings, “until 2012, New York, London, Tokyo, and Paris; i.e. the global cities, were the leading command and control centres” (7). However, in recent years, as Csomós shows, “the gap between these global cities and Beijing gradually closed, and by 2015, the Chinese capital out-ranked all the global cities” (87).

Similarly, in their paper on “[m]egacities without global functions,” published in Belgeo in 2007, Lise Bourdeau-Lepage and Jean-Marie Huriot proposed that, whereas “the number of very large cities, the megacities, increases dramatically, especially in the less developed countries (LDCs) […], globalization [also] leads to the emergence of cities coordinating complex and global economic activities, the global cities, especially in the more developed countries (MDCs)” (95). As Bourdeau-Lepage and Huriot contend, “[t]he bad quality of governance, the low level of social connectivity, the high level of corruption, are important obstacles to city globalization in LDCs.” (95).

As the empirical research of Csomós demonstrates, “between 2012 and 2014, Beijing outranked Paris (2012), London (2013), and Tokyo (2014), and finally it managed to surpass New York in 2015, becoming the leading command and control centre of the world economy” (14). Likewise, Csomós has found that “[t]he geographical shift of the world’s command and control function shows a typical pattern. On the one hand, along with the significant growth of the [Command and Control Index] CCI value of the Chinese cities, the CCI value of cities located in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and those of Indian cities also increased by more than 100% […]. On the other hand, the CCI value of the traditional command and control centres located in North America (particularly in the United States), Western Europe, and Japan decreased significantly” (15-16).

Bourdeau-Lepage and Jean-Marie Huriot illuminate this by indicating that “the globalization of the economy generates a new urban organization where a small number of cities concentrate a disproportionate part of economic power, essentially through the headquarters of world leading companies, and through finance and other advanced producer services” (96). Also, according to these authors, in the present period “megacities and global cities are partly diverging. During the last fifty years, numerous megacities emerged and a large number of them did not gain any global economic dimension or global function” (97). Bourdeau-Lepage and Jean-Marie Huriot conclude that “city globalization may well be a factor of growth of a new kind of inequalities, not only between cities, but between nations, and can contribute to the formation of a “new geography of centrality and marginality” (Sassen, 2000)” (114).

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Downtown Vancouver Sunset, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, August 8, 2011 | © Courtesy of Magnus Larsson/Flickr.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "The Emergence of New Global City Hierarchies in Recent Decades, as Development Paths Diverge," in Open Access Blog, 11/03/2019, https://oab.hypotheses.org/838.

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