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Content archived on 2024-05-28

"Australian/Chinese connections in the world city network: specification, modelling, and EU implications"

Final Report Summary - CITYCONNECT (Australian/Chinese connections in the world city network: specification, modelling, and EU implications)


The purpose of this IOF has been to extend the impact and scope of the approach developed for studying global urban networks in the context of the Globalization and World Cities research network (GaWC). Although the research network has been instructive in rectifying the systematic data deficiencies that long hampered the world city network (WCN) literature, the remit of most GaWC analyses (and similar efforts by other networks) has been partial in that it has not yet linked up with advances in (social) network theory.

The major objective of the IOF project was thus to explore the possible cross-fertilization with the literature on social network analysis (SNA), a set of methods for the analysis of social and economic structures specifically geared towards an investigation of the relational aspects of these structures. SNA is focused on uncovering the patterning of interaction, and has found important applications in organizational behaviour, inter-organizational relations, the spread of contagious diseases, the diffusion of information, etc. However, in spite of its obvious innovative potential for the WCN literature, both research domains have developed separately with little or no cross-fertilization. Drawing on the outgoing host institution’s (Monash University) prowess in this field, the project will seek to enrich the WCN literature through formal SNA approaches.

One SNA subfield that seems particularly well suited to inform the WCN literature is the research on the evolution of social networks. As with many other forms of social networks, it can be said that – from an evolutionary perspective – the transnational connectivity of cities is contingent upon historical events as the network unfolds. For instance, a city that gains a high connectivity early on (e.g. New York) is more likely to remain highly connected than a city that gains little connectivity early on (e.g. Kansas City). This can be understood through preferential attachment: cities prefer to create links with nodes that are already well connected as to profit from transfer opportunities. It can thereby be assumed that cities that are proportionally well connected to critical nodes at one moment in time have a higher probability to increase their connectivity at the next moment in time (e.g. Australian cities with booming Chinese cities). Analyzing the changing structure of the WCN through this lens should result in original and innovative ways of understanding the evolving positions of cities in the WCN.

Throughout the IOF, this challenge has been taken up along three major lines. First, reviewing the assumptions underlying existing models for operationalizing and analyzing urban networks (e.g. exploring the potential of other two-mode to one-mode network projection functions). Second, subsequent research has focused on evolutionary modeling of urban networks by drawing on methods devised in the social networks literature (e.g. exponential random graph modeling, stochastic actor-based modeling, co-evolutionary modeling). And third and most recently, research focusing on the potential of new developments in the visualization of urban networks (e.g. alluvial diagrams and circular diagrams). Research on the assumptions underlying world city network research has been published in Geographical Analysis and Environment and Planning B. Research on evolutionary modeling has been published in papers forthcoming in Environment and Planning A and Journal of Transport Geography. Research on new visualization methods has been published in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems and Environment and Planning A.