Beyond global nodes and economic indicators in the evaluation of the world-system of cities


  • Roberto Diez-Pisonero
  • Cándida Gago-García
  • Juan A. Córdoba Ordóñez



world-system of cities, creative and cultural services, air transport, urban rankings, cities


The paper aims to look at the organisation of the world-urban system. It proposes an integrated explorative approach which, in addition to considering economic-production type indicators, includes others that can reflect a complex approach to functional and geographic specialisation. Methodologically, the comparative analysis of three synthetic indices through a cluster analysis allows for the multifunctional representation of the world-urban system, in which other centralities and cities excluded from other rankings are considered. The first index is taken from the proposal by the GaWC (Global and World Cities Research Network). The second relates to cultural services and some of the knowledgeintensive activities. The third includes variables related to mobility, more specifically air transport. The comparison of functions, as revealed by the indices, can provide information about how cities work in the world context. The analysis allows for the identification of a group of prominent multifunctional cities at the top, and a large group of less prominent and specialised cities underneath.


ACI (Airport Council International) 2011: World Airport Traffic Report. – Airport Council International: ACI World

Alderson, A. and J. Beckfield 2004: Power and Position in the World City System. – American Journal of Sociology 109 (4): 811-851

Allen, J. 1999: Cities of power and influence: settled formations. – In: Allen, J., D. Massey and M. Pryke (eds.): Understanding Cities: unsetting cities. – London: 186-237

Allroggen, F., M. Wittman and R. Malina 2015: How air transport connects the world. A new metric of air connectivity and its evolution between 1990 and 2012. – Transportation Research Part E 80: 184-201

Amadeus and Oxford Economics 2014: The travel gold rush 2020. Pioneering growth and profitability trends in the travel sector. – Oxford: Amadeus-Oxford Economics

Amin, A. and N. Thrift 2007: Cultural-economy and cities. – Progress in Human Geography 31 (2): 143-161

Amin, S. 1997: Capitalism in the age of Globalization. – London

Bassens, D. 2012: The world city concept travels East. – In: Derudder, B., M. Hoyler, P. Taylor and F. Witlox. (eds.): International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities. – Cheltenham: 530-538

Bauman, Z. 2009: Does ethics have a chance in a world of consumers? – Boston

Beaverstock, J., R. Smith and P. Taylor. 1999: A roster of world cities. – Cities 16 (6): 445-458

Burghouwt, G., J. de Wit, J. Veldhuis and H. Matsumoto 2009: Air network performance and hub competitive position: Evaluation of primary airports in East and South-East Asia. – Journal of Airport Management 3 (4): 384-400

Button, K. and S. Taylor 2000: International Air Transportation and Economic Development. – Journal of Air Transport Management 6: 209-222

Castells, M. 1989: The Informational City. – Hoboken, New Jersey

Córdoba, J. and C. Gago 2010: Latin American cities and globalisation. – Urban Studies 47 (9): 2003-2021

Córdoba, J. and C. Gago 2012: Globalización, movilidad y análisis de conectividad aérea. – Revista de Antropología Social 21: 117-146

Csomós, G. and B. Derudder 2014: Ranking Asia-Pacific cities: Economic performance of multinational corporations and the regional urban hierarchy. – Bulletin of Geography 25 (25): 69-80

Derudder, B. 2006: On conceptual confusion in empirical analyses of a transnational urban network. – Urban Studies 43 (11): 2027-2046

Derudder, B. and F. Witlox. 2005: On the use of inadequate airline data in mappings of a global urban system. – Journal of Air Transport Management 11: 231-237

Derudder, B. and F. Witlox. 2008: Mapping world city networks through airline flows. – Journal of Transport Geography 16 (5): 305-312

Dinnie, K. 2011: City branding: theory and cases. – New York

Duarte, F. and C. Ultramari 2007: Inflexiones urbanas y ciudades globales: evidencias y jerarquías. – Biblio 3w 12 (743)

Florida, R. 2002: The rise of the creative class. – New York

Friedmann, J. 1986: The world city hypothesis. – Development and Change 17 (1): 69-83

Friedmann, J. 1995: Where we stand: A decade of world city research. – In: Knox. P. and P. Taylor (eds.): World Cities in a World-System. – Cambridge: 21-47

Gabriel, I. and T. Lang. 2015: The Unmanageable Consumer. – New York

Gago, C. and R. Díez-Pisonero 2013: Los ranking de ciudades globales: el papel de los servicios culturales. – In: Gutiérrez, J., A. Nieto, F. Jaraíz, E. Ruiz and F. Antón (eds.): Los servicios: dinámicas, infraestructuras y cohesión territorial. – Cáceres: Copegraf: 145-162

Gago-García, C., J. Córdoba and R. Díez-Pisonero 2017: Los listados de ciudades globales. Desde la práctica investigadora a su utilización como argumento en la planificación urbana neoliberal. – Revista Internacional de Sociología 75 (1): 054

Global Power City Index 2015: Global Power City Index, The Mori Memorial Foundation. Tokyo. – Online available at – accessed 22/11/2016

Harvey, D. 1985: The urbanization of Capital. – Baltimore

Harvey, D. 1997: Globalization in question. Development research series, WP 56. – Aalborg: Aalborg University

Horkheimer, M. and T. Adorno 1979: Dialectic of Enlightenment. – London

Howkins, J. 2007: The creative economy. – London

Hutton, T. 2015: Cities and the Cultural Economy. – London

Hymer, S. 1972: The multinational corporation and the law of uneven development. In: Bhagwati, J. (ed.): Economics and World Order. – New York: 128- 152

Keeling, D. 1995: Transport and the world city paradigm. – In: Knox, P. and P. Taylor (eds.): World Cities in a World-system. – Cambridge: 115–131

Knox, P. and S. Marston (2014): Human Geography: Places and regions in global context. – London

Krätke, S. 2004: City of Talents? Berlin’s Regional Economy. – International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 28 (3): 511-529

Krätke, S. 2012: The creative capital of cities: interactive knowledge creation and the urbanization economies of innovation. – Hoboken, New Jersey

Landry, C. 2012: The creative city: A toolkit for urban innovators. – London

Layne, C. 2012: The Global Power Shift from West to East. – The National Interest (119): 21-31

Limtanakool, N., T. Schwanen and M. Dijst. 2007: Ranking functional urban regions: A comparison of interaction and node attribute data. – Cities 24 (1): 26-42

Liu, X., B. Derudder and C. Gago 2013: Exploring the co-evolution of the geographies of air transport aviation and corporate networks. – Journal of Transport Geography 30: 26-36

Marcuse, P. and R. Kempen 2000: Globalizing Cities. A New Spatial Order. – Hoboken, New Jersey

Nelson, C. and D. Gaonkar 2013: Disciplinarity and dissent in cultural studies. – London

Nissel, H. 2004: Mumbai: Megacity im Spannungsfeld globaler, nationaler und lokaler Interessen. – Geographische Rundschau 56 (4): 55-60

Nordlund, C. 2004: A critical comment on the Taylor approach for measuring world city interlock linkages. – Geographical Analysis 36 (3) 290-296

OAG-International 2011: World flights database. – Manchester: Comber International, November

Pratt, A. 2013: The Cultural and Creative Industries: New Engines for the City? – In: Wang, W. (ed.): Culture: City. – Baden: 36-42

PWC 2014: Cities of Opportunities, PWC. – Online available at: – accessed 22/11/2016

Recruitment Confidence Index 2005: Globetrotters make it to the top. Cranfield University. – Online available at: – accessed 22/11/2016

Reputation Institute 2015: The World’s most reputable cities. – Tokyo: Reputation Institute

Robinson, J. 2002: Global and world cities: a view from off the map. – International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 26 (3): 531-554

Rozenblat, C. and D. Pumain 2007: Firm linkages, innovation and the evolution of urban systems. – In: Taylor, P., B. Derudder, P. Saey and F. Witlox (eds.): Cities in Globalization. – London: 130-156

Sánchez-Moral, S. (2008): Positioning Madrid in the World City System, GawC Research Bulletin 258. – Online available at: – accessed 16/10/2017

Sassen, S. 1991: The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. – Princeton, New Jersey

Scott, A. 2008: Social Economy of the Metropolis: Cognitive-Cultural Capitalism and the Global Resurgence of Cities. – Oxford

Scott, A. and E. Soja 1986: Los Angeles: the capital of the twentieth century. – Environment and Planning D: Sociey & Space 4: 201-216

Smith, D. and M. Timberlake 2001: World city networks and hierarchies, 1977-1997: an empirical analysis of global air travel links. – American Behavioural Scientist 44 (10): 1656-1678

Smith, R. 2014: Beyond the global city concept and the myth of ‘command and control’. – International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38 (1): 98-115

Soja, E. 2000: Postmetropolis: critical studies of cities and regions. – Hoboken, New Jersey

Storper, M. and A. Scott 2009: Rethinking human capital, creativity and urban growth. –Journal of Economic Geography 9: 147-167

Taylor, P. 1997: Hierarchical tendencies amongst world cities: a global research proposal. – Cities 14: 323-332

Taylor, P. 2000: World cities and territorial states under conditions of contemporary globalization. – Political Geography 19 (1): 5-32

Taylor, P. 2001: Specification of the world city network. – Geographical analysis 33 (2): 181-194

Taylor, P. 2004: World City Network: A Global Urban Analysis. – London

Taylor, P. 2005: Leading world cities: empirical evaluations of urban nodes in multiple networks. – Urban Studies 42 (9): 1593-1608

Taylor, P., J. Beaverstock and B. Derudder (eds.) 2013: Global Cities. Critical Concepts in Urban Studies. – London

Taylor, P., G. Catalano and D. Walker 2002: Exploratory analysis of the world city network. – Urban Studies 39 (13): 2377-2394

Taylor, P. and B. Derudder 2016: World City Network. A Global Urban Analysis. – London

Taylor, P., B. Derudder and F. Witlox 2007: Comparing airline passenger destinations with global service connectivities: A worldwide empirical study of 214 cities. – Urban Geography 28 (3): 232-248

Taylor, P., P. Ni, B. Derudder, M. Hoyler, J. Huang and F. Witlox (eds.) 2011: Global urban analysis: A survey of cities in globalization. – London

The Economist 2015: Liveability ranking and overview. – Economist Intelligence Unit.

Toffler, A. 1980: The Third Wave. – New York

Tonts, M. and M. Taylor 2013: The shifting geography of corporate headquarters in Australia: a longitudinal analysis. – Regional Studies 47 (9): 1507-1522

UNDP 2013: World Human Development Report 2013. – UNDP

UNESCO 2009: UNESCO Framework of Cultural Statistics. – Online available at: – accessed 10/10/2016

United Nations 2006: Demographic Yearbook, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations. – Online available at: – accessed 10/10/2016

Urry, J. 1995: Consuming Places. – London

Wallerstein, I. 1974: The Modern World-System. – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Watson, A. and J. Beaverstock 2014: World City Network Research at a Theoretical Impasse. – Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 105 (4): 412-426

World Bank 2012: Annual report 2012. The World Bank. – Online available at: – accessed 10/10/2016

Yigitcanlar, T., K. O’Connor and C. Westerman 2008: The making of knowledge cities: Melbourne’s knowledge-based urban development experience. – Cities 25 (2): 63-72




How to Cite

Diez-Pisonero, R., Gago-García, C., & Córdoba Ordóñez, J. A. (2020). Beyond global nodes and economic indicators in the evaluation of the world-system of cities. DIE ERDE – Journal of the Geographical Society of Berlin, 151(1), 1–15.



Research articles