Call for Papers: 'World Cities and Global Production Networks'

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2009 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Las Vegas, USA
22nd-27th March 2009

Stefan Lüthi, Munich University of Technology
Alain Thierstein, Munich University of Technology
Ben Derudder, Ghent University
Frank Witlox, Ghent University

Globalization has entailed a reorganization of spatial development processes on the global, European, national and regional scales. Each city is connected to other places in the world in many different ways and through many different actors. New forms of hierarchical and network development and functional differentiation between cities can be observed. Even the most important contributions to the world city literature seem to have an inherent problem with saying something soundly empirical about inter-city relations at different geographical scales (Taylor 2007). Notable exceptions include the literature on Global Commodity Chains (GCC), Global Value Chains (GVC) and Global Production Networks (GPN) on the one hand (e.g. Coe, Dicken and Hess 2008; Henderson et al. 2002; Coe et al. 2004; Gereffi, Humphrey and Sturgeon 2005) and on World City Networks (WCN) on the other hand (e.g. Friedmann 1986; Sassen 2001; Taylor 2004; Rozenblat and Pumain 2006). Although there is little or no cross-referencing between these literatures, they display a remarkable and promising conceptual overlap. They both depict fundamental spatial models of flows (Brown et al. 2007) and take economic globalization and the spatio-economic behaviour of firms as the holistic starting point of their analysis (Jacobs 2008). The main difference between these literatures is, however, that World City Network research focuses in particular on intra-firm networks of Advanced Producer Services firms, whereas the GCC, GVC and GPN models concentrate mainly on extra-firm relationships and the global division of labour, value and power within the supply chains of goods (Jacobs 2008). In spite of the innovativeness of these literatures, there are some shortcomings that must be addressed by future research activities. The World City Network literatures, on the one hand, contains a rather underdeveloped urban-theoretical underpinning and focus on a relatively few large metropolitan centres failing to explain the connections of world cities to other spatial scales (Brown et al. 2007). In the GCC, GVC and the GPN frameworks, on the other hand, the study of the actual geographies of value chains has remained relatively underdeveloped and its empirical scope of analysis has mainly been concerned with a small number of primary commodities and industrial sectors. The purpose of this special session is to think about how these two literatures may be integrated (see Lüthi, Thierstein and Goebel 2008) and thereby to provide a basic starting point for understanding the process behind contemporary globalization.

Submitting papers

Both conceptual and empirical papers are welcome, and we look forward to receiving proposals that make use of a variety of data sources, scales of analysis and methodological backgrounds. Interested participants should send expression of interest, questions and/ or title and abstract of 250 words or less to Stefan Lüthi (, Alain Thierstein (, Ben Derudder ( and Frank Witlox ( by September 24th 2008. Contributors will have to register for the conference and submit their abstract the regular way (through the AAG website:, and should then send the registration code (PIN) they receive to us. Please note that you have to submit the abstract AND also pay, and then your PIN is activated. Once everyone has done this (+/- mid-October), we register for a special session, and mention all registration codes that will be in our session(s).


Brown, Ed; Derudder, Ben; Parnreiter, Christof; Pelupessy, Wim; Taylor, Peter J. and Witlox, Frank (2007): World City Networks and Global Commodity Chains: Towards a World-Systems' Integration. In: GaWC Research Bulletin 236,, access 21.08.2008.

Coe, Neil; Hess, Martin; Yeung, Henry; Dicken, Peter and Henderson, Jeffrey (2004): ‘Globalizing' regional development: a global production networks perspective. In: Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 29(4): 468-484.

Coe, Neil M.; Dicken, Peter and Hess, Martin (2008): Global production networks: realizing the potential. In: Journal of Economic Geography 8: 271-295.

Friedmann, John (1986): The world city hypothesis. In: Development and Change 17: 69-83.

Gereffi, Gary; Humphrey, John and Sturgeon, Timothy (2005): The governance of global value chains. In: Review of International Political Economy 12(1): 78-104.

Henderson, Jeffrey; Dicken, Peter; Hess, Martin; Coe, Neil and Yeung, Wai-Chung (2002): Global production networks and the analysis of economic development. In: Review of International Political Economy 9(3): 436-464.

Jacobs, Wouter (2008): Global Value Chains, Port Clusters and Advanced Producer Services. A Framework for Analysis. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, 15-19 April, Boston, MA.

Lüthi, Stefan; Thierstein, Alain and Goebel, Viktor (2008): Intra-firm and extra-firm linkages of the knowledge economy - the case of the Mega-City Region of Munich. Association of American Geographers (AAG), April 2008, Boston., access 21.08.2008.

Rozenblat, Céline and Pumain, Denise (2006): Firm Linkages, Innovation and the Evolution of Urban Systems. In: Taylor, Peter J.; Derudder, Ben; Saey, Pieter and Witlox, Frank (Eds.), Cities in Globalization: Practices, Policies, Theories. London: Routledge.

Sassen, Saskia (2001): The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo, 2. Edition. Princeton, New-York: Princeton University Press.

Taylor, Peter J. (2004): World City Network: A Global Urban Analysis. London: Routledge.

Taylor, Peter J. (2007): A Brief Guide to Quantitative Data Collection at GaWC, 1997-2001., access 21.08.2008.