Call for Papers: 'German Cities in the World City Network'

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2010 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Washington, DC, USA
14-18 April 2010

Stefan Lüthi, Munich University of Technology
Alain Thierstein, Munich University of Technology
Michael Hoyler, Loughborough University

Globalization has entailed a reorganization of spatial development processes on global, European, national and regional scales. Cities and metropolitan areas are increasingly connected to other places in the world in many different ways and through many different actors. The result is a multi-faceted city network of global reach that significantly impacts upon – and is in turn shaped by – the global economy, but is not entirely free from state-based direction.

Against this backdrop, spatial development policies in the European Union but especially in Germany were reformulated relatively early to respond to the emerging phenomenon of polycentric metropolitan or ‘mega-city' regions. In 1995, the German Ministers for Spatial Planning identified six ‘European Metropolitan Regions' (EMR) within Germany's borders – Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Rhine-Main, Rhine-Ruhr, and Stuttgart – as ‘engines of economic, social and cultural development' (MKRO 1995). They are defined as high-performance urban regions whose outstanding functions transcend national boundaries. The urban agglomeration around Halle, Leipzig and Dresden (‘Saxon Triangle') joined this new league of EMRs in 1997; in 2005 another four regions became members of the EMR “club”: Rhine-Neckar, Bremen/Oldenburg, Nuremberg, and the city-triangle Hanover-Braunschweig-Göttingen. Such strategic territorial configurations often lack convincing empirical foundation but instead embody the aspiration of policy-makers to initiate a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Different attempts have been made to analyse the polycentric structure of city systems in Europe (Krätke 2007; Kujath and Schmidt 2007; Blotevogel and Schmitt 2006). One of the most recent empirical research activities in this respect was the INTERREG IIIB Study POLYNET – Sustainable Management of European Polycentric Mega-City Regions (Hall and Pain 2006). A key conclusion of POLYNET is the scale-dependency of functional polycentricity, based on the coming together of various business service networks of different organizational architectures and scalar reach. However, there is a need to extend and deepen POLYNET's quantitative and qualitative analyses in order to inform policies on functional economic specialization and spatial complementarities within, between and beyond polycentric mega-city regions (Hoyler et al. 2008). Some extensions of the POLYNET project are already underway, expanding the scale of analysis from regional to national (Taylor et al. 2009; Lüthi and Thierstein 2009), and adding other knowledge-intensive sectors to the analysis, such as high-tech firms (Thierstein et al. 2007).

The purpose of this organized session is to bring together the most recent findings on how German cities are integrated into the world city network. How has the globalization of economic activity (and the current global financial crisis) affected this highly polycentric ‘national' urban system? Are German cities part of two distinct urban configurations, one nation-based, reflecting the federal structure of Germany, the other linking into a global network of cities, echoing the country's claim to be world champion in foreign trade?

Submitting papers

Both conceptual and empirical papers are welcome (focusing on Germany's urban system as a whole or on individual case studies). 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 (, and Michael Hoyler ( by September 28, 2009. Contributors will have to register for the conference and submit their abstract through the AAG website: Please forward your registration code (PIN) to us after you have submitted the abstract.


Blotevogel, Hans H. and Schmitt, Peter (2006): “European Metropolitan Regions” as a New Discursive Frame in Strategic Spatial Planning and Policies in Germany, Die Erde 137(1-2): 55-74.

Hall, Peter and Pain, Kathy (2006): The Polycentric Metropolis. Learning from Mega-City Regions in Europe. London: Earthscan.

Hoyler, Michael; Kloosterman, Robert and Sokol, Martin (2008): Polycentric Puzzles: Emerging Mega-City Regions Seen through the Lens of Advanced Producer Services, Regional Studies 42(8): 1055-1064.

Krätke, Stefan (2007): Metropolisation of the European Economic Territory as a Consequence of Increasing Specialisation of Urban Agglomerations in the Knowledge Economy, European Planning Studies 15(1): 1-27.

Kujath, Hans Joachim and Schmidt, Suntje (2007): Wissensökonomie und die Entwicklung von Städtesystemen. Working Paper. Leibnitz Institut für Regionalentwicklung und Strukturplanung., accessed 06.08.09.

Lüthi, Stefan and Thierstein, Alain (2009): Interlocking firm networks and emerging Mega-City Regions. A framework to analyze the hidden geography of the knowledge economy in Germany. Uddevalla Symposium 2009, June 11-13, Bari, Italy.

MKRO (1995): Raumordnungspolitischer Handlungsrahmen. Ministerkonferenz für Raumordnung, 8. März 1995, Düsseldorf.

Taylor, Peter J.; Evans, David M.; Hoyler, Michael; Derudder, Ben and Pain, Kathy (2009): The UK Space Economy as Practised by Advanced Producer Service Firms: Identifying Two Distinctive Polycentric City-Regional Processes in Contemporary Britain, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33(3), in press.

Thierstein, Alain; Goebel, Viktor and Lüthi, Stefan (2007): Standortverflechtungen der Metropolregion München. Über Konnektivität in der Wissensökonomie. Endbericht Forschungsprojekt. München: Lehrstuhl für Raumentwicklung, TU München., accessed 06.08.09.