High-tech networks and urban hierarchies in Switzerland: A critical reflection of the Swiss spatial development policy

Authors: Silke Zöllner*, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Stefan Lüthi, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Christoph Hanisch, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Alain Thierstein, Technical University of Munich
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: high-tech firms, manufacturing firms, urban hierarchies, Switzerland, spatial development policy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Edgewood AB, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Although Switzerland has been strongly integrated in international economic exchange for many decades, the country’s perception of the structure and dynamics of its own territory remains inward bound. The new Swiss spatial development concept - rather political and normative in character – classifies the country into twelve so-called ‘areas of action’. However, the concept does not show through which specific connectivity patterns these areas are shaped and what functional urban hierarchy exists between them. In order to explore the tension between political objectives and socioeconomic networking trends, we compare patterns of intra-firm and extra-firm networks of high-tech and manufacturing companies in Switzerland on NUTS-II level and interpret the findings against the background of the Swiss spatial development policy. The analysis of intra-firm networks is based on the interlocking network model developed by the Globalisation and World Cities Study Group (GaWC). These networks are compared with extra-firm R&D cooperation of Swiss manufacturing firms from the European Manufacturing Survey. Our preliminary findings show a strong international pattern for the intra-firm networks of high-tech companies and a strong national pattern for the extra-firm R&D networks of manufacturing firms. On national level, we identify a hierarchical polycentric urban pattern with two highly interconnected functional regions. These findings seem not to reflect the preferred political strategies for regional planning and spatial development. By focusing too heavily on creating an image of national and spatial cohesion, Switzerland misses to acknowledge the driving forces of urban economies and the leading role played by a few economic regions.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login