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Final Report Summary - SECONDARY CITIES-EU (Secondary Cities of Europe: The Case of Regional Industrial Development in Turkey)


Secondary Cities of Europe has three objectives: to assess the industrial policy orientations in Turkey, the industrial and urban dynamics of its three developing cities (Denizli, Gaziantep, and Kayseri), and business and production practices of the largest manufacturing enterprises in these cities.

The project had three phases in accordance with its objectives. First, interviews were conducted with the representatives of government agencies and key strategic documents were assessed with content analysis. Second, representatives of the chambers of industry, regional development agencies, governor’s office, and municipalities were interviewed in Denizli, Gaziantep, and Kayseri in order to gather data about the industrial facilities in each city. Third, representatives of the largest industrial companies and their subsidiaries were interviewed in these cities. To this end, the First 1000 Industrial Establishments List by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce was used to locate these companies; the most reliable data set about the large industrial enterprises in Turkey. Representatives of all of the largest industrial companies as well as their local subsidiaries were interviewed in Denizli and Kayseri. The respective ratio is 71 percent for Gaziantep. These interviewees provided information about the business, production, and employment practices of these enterprises. In total, 142 interviews were conducted between 2013 and 2016. The interviews took from 45 minutes to three hours.

Policy reforms between 2006 and 2011 delegated the administrative power to Regional Development Agencies and three new ministries. This new policy reorientation lacks coherence and has limited compatibility with the EU-accession process. Along with the decentralization of the regional development policies, individual cities adopted diverging growth patterns. Denizli experienced a shift to the energy-intensive sectors such as copper wire production. Kayseri diversified its customer base and EU’s share in its exports has dropped by 20 percent since 2004 and labor-intensive furniture production became the dominant sector in this city. Gaziantep is Turkey’s fastest growing industrial center. Its two largest and fastest growing sectors are carpet and grain-products. These energy- and resource-intensive sectors have a limited potential for backward linkages. Gaziantep’s geographical proximity to the Middle East is a key factor for its high performance during 2000s.


Three factors were consequential in the above-average industrial performance of the secondary cities subject to this project. First, their industrial background provided these cities with particular advantages in regard to the human resources and infrastructure. These cities had important industrial establishments before the 1980s such as textile facilities, sugar refineries, and cement factories. Second, these cities enjoy certain locational advantages. For instance, Gaziantep benefited from its proximity to Iraq and Syria. Last, the rural-to-urban migration after the 1980s helped a new stratum of entrepreneurs to expand the industrial basis of these cities. In the case of Denizli and Kayseri, these entrepreneurs came from particular rural districts with certain artisanal skills to the city center and used those skills first to cooperate and then to compete with the local urban elites of the pre-1980 period. Gaziantep drew such an inflow of potential entrepreneurs from a larger hinterland including the Kurds from the neighboring cities. This migration wave helped the industrial enterprises in Gaziantep thrive in the Kurdish region of Iraq; a critical factor that accelerated Gaziantep’s growth in the 2000s.

In the last decade, secondary cities in Turkey assumed three new roles within global industrial relations. First, energy-intensive production thrived in these cities after the 2008 crisis. Second, capital-intensive sectors grew faster than the labor-intensive sectors. Third, labor-intensive sectors grew through vertical integration. These developments resulted in tensions within the local supply chains. In Denizli, big players in home textiles rather flawlessly moved to vertical integration. In Gaziantep, companies switched their operations to energy- and resource-intensive sectors. In Kayseri, the tension within the local supply chains could not be avoided with similar measures because of the labor-intensiveness in its dominant furniture sector and gained a political character along with the ongoing political turbulence that culminated in the coup attempt in July 2016.


The fellow received the associate professor title in 2016. He teaches a number of graduate and undergraduate courses at his Host Institute and chairs a number of dissertation committees. He consulted for a number of government agencies including the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and the Ministry of Family and Social Policy. In addition to his invited articles and other shorter pieces on popular websites about industrial and urban development in Turkey, the fellow has published a monograph, four peer-reviewed articles, seven book chapters, and three research reports, since he returned to Turkey. Ten out of these fifteen publications helped the fellow to disseminate the research findings of Secondary Cities of Europe. Over the years, the fellow has presented his preliminary findings at various conferences, workshops, and invited talks. He also joined academic networks and established affiliations with various initiatives and institutions such as the Center for Open Science and the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell University.


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