International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities
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International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox

This Handbook offers an unrivalled overview of current research into how globalization is affecting the external relations and internal structures of major cities in the world.
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Chapter 12: Corporate Networks of World Cities

Arthur S. Alderson and Jason Beckfield


Arthur S. Alderson and Jason Beckfield Research on world cities has been defined by a simple idea, that relations between cities are important for what occurs within them (e.g. Friedmann, 1986; Sassen, 2001; Knox and Taylor, 1995). Typically situated in relation to the discourse on globalization, this research seeks to address the widespread sense that what happens ‘here’ is increasingly related to, and even dependent upon, what happens ‘there’ in the new global economy, polity and culture. Moreover, globalization is held to be fundamentally restructuring the global urban hierarchy, and thus altering the ‘there’ with which ‘here’ is linked. In contrast to the comparatively glacial pace at which major cities rose and fell in earlier human history, scholars such as John Friedmann have characterized the present era as one in which ‘cities may rise into the ranks of world cities, they may drop from the order, and they may rise or fall in rank’ in short order (Friedmann, 1995, p. 26). Thus the rise of Dubai and the decline of Detroit, to note but two dramatic examples, signal the emergence of a novel hierarchy of cities, one that may cut across long-standing North/South and East/West divides in the world system. Approaching the world city system as a network, what is the content of the relation that links cities together within it? Our reading of the literature suggests that the network of world cities is best conceptualized as multi-relational, formed by analytically distinct networks in various domains. Ideally, then, in studying...

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