Polycentricity, performance and the process of metropolisation in mega-city regions

Authors: Evert Meijers*, Delft University of Technology, Rodrigo Cardoso, Delft University of Technology
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Europe
Keywords: polycentricity, agglomeration economies, borrowed size, metropolitan integration, development strategies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Many once distinct cities are becoming part of larger, polycentric mega-city regions, in a process of restructuring of economic activity, spatial forms and flows and institutional relations that some researchers have captured under the concept of ‘metropolisation’. The forces driving metropolisation involve spatial-functional, cultural-symbolic and political-institutional transformations. Megacity-region formation has become both a policy aim and research concern. Focus is on reaping the socioeconomic benefits that can emerge from tighter and deeper integration between cities constituting such regions.
This paper synthesises previous studies into the relation between polycentricity and economic performance. Many megacity-regions are polycentric in the sense that there is a certain balance in importance between the cities making up such regions. This polycentricity is associated with less agglomeration benefits compared to single megacities, but also with less severe agglomeration costs, and studies show that the balance between those costs and benefits can actually be very favourable in more polycentric megacity-regions. Studies also show that it actually is not a polycentric or monocentric urban form predominantly influencing performance, but rather the level of integration between the cities making up larger mega-city regions.
The paper will address how a metropolisation process fosters the formation and integration of mega-city regions, paying attention to (factors hindering and fostering) the rise of functional relationships and institutional co-operation in mega-city regions, and the rise of new territorial identities at the novel scale of such megacity-regions. We will illustrate our story with examples taken from polycentric megacity-regions in Europe, particularly Northwest Europe.

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