World Cities as Gateways: Supranational Hubs, National Primary Cities and Specialized Outliers

Authors: Moritz Breul*, University of Cologne, Sören Scholvin, University of Hanover, Javier Revilla Diez, University of Cologne
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: world cities, gateway cities, global production networks, global value chains
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Studio 8, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Studies on the world city network have made significant contributions to our understanding of globalization. There has also been an increasing interest in the role of world cities in global production networks/global value chains, best exemplified by the volume Commodity Chains and World Cities, edited by Ben Derudder and Frank Witlox. However post-colonial scholars such as Jennifer Robinson criticize correctly that research on world cities suffers from a bias towards the Global North because it limits the analytical scope to advanced producer services. The state of the art therefore fails to capture many features that are critical for how world cities (in the Global South) interlink other places globally. In order to overcome this shortcoming, we suggest that some world cities should be seen as ‘gateways’. Gatway cities interlink their respective hinterlands globally because they are hubs for logistics and transport, key sites of industrial processing, places of corporate control and related service provision and locations where knowledge generation takes place. These five features are not necessarily present in every gateway city. Standing on their own or being combined in different ways, they characterize different types of gateway cities. Based on these conceptual ideas and case studies on Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Singapore, we advance a typology of gateway cities, distinguishing between supranational hubs, national primary cities and specialized outliers.

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