GaWC Research Bulletin 80

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This Research Bulletin has been published in European Planning Studies, 11 (6), (2003), 605-628.


Please refer to the published version when quoting the paper.


Global Media Cities in a Worldwide Urban Network

S. Krätke*


This is a short technical note that develops the concept of an urban hinterworld. A hinterworld is the pattern of a city's relations with other cities across the world. Within a framework of a world city network created by global service firms, new data are described and used to define the global network connectivity of 316 cities based upon the office networks of 100 global service firms. 'Absolute' hinterworlds are measured by aggregating the level of service provision that is available in a city for doing business in another city. The geography of this first measure closely mirrors global network connectivity and therefore a second 'relative' measure is devised. This is found in the residuals derived from regressing absolute service provision against global network connectivity. The methodology is illustrated by deriving and mapping the hinterworlds of London and Manchester.


"Media city" is a term currently used to describe cultural and media centres operating at very different geographical levels. They range from small-scale local urban clusters in the media industry to the cultural metropolises of the global urban and regional system. Media cities clearly constitute a geographically complex phenomenon, which is connected to a certain extent with the traditional focus on urban culture. Urban culture in the broad sense incorporates (i) the divergence and convergence of ways of life in urban and rural areas as well as in the "intermediate spaces" between them, (ii) the diversity of lifestyles pursued by urban dwellers - the "cultures of the city" - and (iii) the introduction of new urban "amenity areas" and places of "urban entertainment", which are important for the attractiveness and economic development of cities. These aspects of urban culture have long been the subject of urban research (Bittner 2001; Roost 2000; Kirchberg & Göschel 1998; Zukin 1995; Kearns & Philo 1993; Kirchberg 1992; Wynne 1992; Crane 1992). What has mostly been overlooked, however, is the fact that cities are also places where goods and services are produced for a local and supra-regional cultural market. This article examines the link between cities and culture from the point of view of the production of cultural goods, including media products. It lays emphasis on the institutional structure of present-day cultural production and the media industry as well as on their geographical organisation at the local and global levels. An up-to-date examination of culture and cities ought to have the "commodification of culture" as a central theme, i.e. the worldwide assertion of the market economy in the form of the market-focused production of cultural commodities and the market-related self-stylisation of individuals competing for positions in societies characterised by the all-embracing mediatisation of social communication, consumption patterns and lifestyles. This comprehensive merging of culture and market is bound up to a certain extent with current trends in urban development.

The term "culture" is used in this article in two different ways. On the one hand, it refers to the common value systems, viewpoints, conventions, rules, ways of life and practices of a certain group of people (i.e. in a broader-based sociological interpretation of culture) and, on the other hand, to production activities related to intellectual, artistic and symbolic expressions of social life. This interpretation is more functional in character and it generally employs the term culture in an adjectival form in referring to cultural goods, culture industries, the cultural economy etc. The focus here is on those branches (and products) of social activity that are determined to a large extent by creative work and the production and communication of symbolic meanings and images (cf. Throsby 2001). Such areas of activity include the arts, as they are traditionally defined, as well as most branches of the modern media industry. The term under which they are subsumed below is that of the "culture industry" in its capacity as both a social function and a branch of activity. There is interaction between these two dimensions of culture in that the products and images circulated by the culture industry exert an influence on people's value systems, ways of life and everyday activities (and vice-versa).

The present-day culture industry can be regarded as a "pioneer" in the restructuring of social and economic forms of organisation since it generates institutional forms of creative and knowledge-based production, inter-firm division of labour and spatial organisation, flexible work relations and the cross-marketing of new products in ever shorter cycles. All these institutional forms may well be implemented in many sectors of social labour in the future. Partly similar restructuring processes have been observed in high-tech industries which, like the cultural economy, are engaged in a fierce competition for innovative products and operate in volatile markets full of risks and uncertainty. In geographical terms the cultural economy can likewise be regarded as constituting a prototype of future organisational forms of social labour in that it produces new "urban industries" that go far beyond the confines of old urban industries (such as the printing and publishing trade). The consequence of this is the formation, especially in large cities and metropolises, of urban clusters of cultural production, which account for a considerable share of the regional economy, and reveal strong intra-regional and supra-regional networks of inter-firm transactions. The selective concentration of cultural production and the media industry in a limited number of large cities and metropolises within the urban system - a concentration which is expressed at the level of the global city system - is the one characteristic of the geographical organisation of culture industries. The other characteristic is the formation of clusters within the boundaries of large cities or metropolitan areas, i.e. the local concentration of certain cultural production and media industry activities in special "districts", preferably in the inner city areas (Krätke 2000; 2002).

The location patterns of different branches of the cultural economy and the media industry, which have been established since the 1980s for selected "global cities" such as Los Angeles and London, are regarded as empirical examples lending support to the theory that cultural production tends to lead to the formation of local agglomerations of specialised firms (Scott 1997). Among the examples produced to substantiate this proposition are the metropolitan regions of London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles (Scott 1996, 1998, 2000; Braczyk, Fuchs & Wolf 1999; Grabher 2001; Coe 2001; Oakey, Kipling & Wildgust 2001). In more recent research work carried out in the fields of economic geography and regional economics such agglomerations of specialised firms have been examined from the point of view of the formation of regionally integrated production clusters. The term "clusters" in this context refers to geographical concentrations of firms (and institutions) in a value chain based on an inter-firm division of labour (Porter 2001), at the end of which there are final products, such as special industrial goods, integrated services or cultural products. Production clusters have also been examined to assess intensity and quality of the interaction between the players in the clusters (for the film industry cf. Krätke 2002 and 2002b). "Integrated" production clusters can generate locational advantages through interaction between the regional economic players (Porter 1999) and form the basis for a special "competence" in the region, which regional or urban development policy can exploit to good effect.

The second, most important feature of the present-day cultural industry's institutional order is the globalisation of large cultural enterprises, which enables global media firms with their worldwide network of subsidiaries and branch offices to forge links between the urban clusters of cultural production. This supra-regional linkage of local media industry clusters lies at the heart of an emerging system of global media cities within the worldwide urban network. However, the globalisation of cultural production and the media industry (Robins 1995), which has contributed in a major way to the formation of a globally networked system of media cities, is an aspect of "globalising cities" that has so far been neglected. In this article the models frequently used in the global city system will be supplemented and partially modified by an empirical analysis of the "world media cities" network.

Today's culture industry is a highly differentiated business incorporating diverse sectors that range from traditional artistic productions to very technology-intensive branches of the media industry. In addition, parts of the culture industry (e.g. the multimedia sector) have witnessed the development of knowledge, design and technology-intensive production activities. According to Scott, the culture industry comprises economic activities that are concerned with "image production" (Scott 1996; 1997). The products of these activities are of the utmost cultural importance in that they function as agents of information, influence and persuasion or as vehicles of entertainment or social self-portrayal. They include primarily the diverse branches of the entertainment and media industries, e.g. theatres and orchestras, music production, film production, television and radio productions, the printing and publishing trade, as well as design agencies, advertising design and the advertising industry (which in other contexts can be classed among the enterprise-related services). The "image production" activities of the cultural economy in today's marketing society include not merely the product images created by advertising and design agencies, but also the lifestyle images communicated via the programme formats of the entertainment and media industries. There is considerable overlapping between the culture industry and the media industry. Most cultural productions are organised directly or indirectly as special value chains within the media industry. Together with the increasing mediatisation of social communication, consumption and entertainment they contribute to the formation of a "media society". Hence the culture industry with the media industry at its centre has a direct impact on large parts of the economy and social communication as well as an influence on consumer patterns and lifestyles. The media industry acts as a focus for the economic restructuring and commercialisation of cultural production and is also to be found at the heart of the "culturalisation of the economy", given that its market success is founded on the construction of images and extensive marketing activities that are supported by the media industry.


"Media cities" as centres of cultural production and the media industry are a phenomenon that is encountered in inner-city areas and the urban system alike and is characterised by geographical links at both the local and global level. In the wide-ranging work carried out by Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perraton (1999: 16) globalisation is represented as constituting a process or a bundle of processes, which includes a transformation of the organisation of social relations and transactions measured in terms of their geographical extension, intensity, speed and impact. It also generates trans-continental flows and networks of activities and interactions as well as forms of the exercise of power. "Flows" refers here to the movements in time and space of physical goods, persons, symbols and information, whereas "networks" describe the structured interactions between social, political and economic players and centres of activity. Globalisation is a complex social phenomenon that includes global interpenetration in economics, politics and culture as well as different historical phases of development (Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perraton 1999). Only if research is carried out into the different patterns of global interpenetration in the various spheres of social activity - that include many geographies of globalisation - can there be an adequate understanding of the rapid pace and consequences of globalisation. Globalisation should not be conceived of as a process in which specific geographical ties are dissolved, but rather as a process involving the restructuring and re-dimensioning of the geographical organisation of economic and social relations. In a nutshell, globalisation has specific "playgrounds" and is actively put forward in certain locations. A special role is played in this context by the centres of activity in global cities.

With "globalisation" having become a key term in the debate on the economic and social changes taking place in modern society, the connection between globalisation and urban development has become a central theme of urban research. As a result, "new" rankings, hierarchies and networks of cities on a global scale have been established. Many urban researchers consider that globalisation proceeds primarily from urban centres of activity and that more and more cities are being integrated actively or passively into processes of globalisation ("globalising cities"). In this context the cultural economy and the media industry have a major role to play, which in previous research into the global cities system have attracted little attention compared to the advanced producer services.

The phenomenon of global cities as internationally important economic and population centres has long been a focus of urban research and has exerted a considerable influence on the construction of hierarchies in the international urban system (Beaverstock, Smith & Taylor 1999). The most influential contribution on the formation of hierarchies in the global city system has been made by Friedmann (Friedmann & Wolff 1982; Friedmann 1986; 1995), who characterised the leading cities in the global economy as the command and control centres in the new international division of labour system. Friedmann (1986) established several ranking criteria for cities in the international cities system, however. Knox (2000) presented a similar list of criteria. He went beyond Friedmann in emphasising that global cities function as transaction centres for the key global markets (finance, currency, investment and commodity markets) and, moreover, that they also provide locations for the most powerful and internationally most influential firms in the media sector and act as centres of the cultural industry. Sassen's "global city" concept (1991; 1996) focuses on the function of certain cities as production locations or "providers" of global financial and corporate services. According to Sassen, globalisation in the economic sphere has brought with it not only the formation of a worldwide network of industrial production locations, but also a rapid growth in the global finance industry and the international provision of specialised corporate services. The main line of argument Sassen puts forward in her global city concept is that the advanced internationalisation and global organisation of economic activities requires "nodal points" in the co-ordination and control of these global economic processes and that global cities, in which international financial and corporate services are concentrated, function as locations for the production of a global control capacity. In practice, the global players face considerable difficulties in co-ordinating and controlling their worldwide economic activities, which often enough cannot be resolved in-firm. Global players operate in different currency areas and different legal systems and have to conduct their marketing activities in different cultural environments, etc. As the problems they encounter become increasingly complex, global firms are obliged to transfer the relevant work to outside specialists, i.e. to internationally operating firms providing financial and corporate services. Given that these specialised firms are concentrated in a limited number of metropolises, it can be stated that the metropolitan centres where they are located procure or provide the multinational firms with the capacity to co-ordinate and control their international business activities. In contrast to Friedmann, Sassen based her classification of global cities on no more than a handful of criteria and concentrated, in particular, on the three "leading" global cities of London, New York and Tokyo, which appear in the leading group of all the functional rankings of a global hierarchy of cities (Short et al 1996). However, the processes of globalisation essentially affect all cities (Marcuse & van Kempen 2000; Scott 2001) and lead to the active or passive integration of a multitude of cities into global economic interrelations.

Most of the studies on global cities and the economic and functional structures of the international urban system reveal a tendency to reduce the "high-ranking" cities to their function as financial centres and centres for the provision of specialised corporate services. In other words, they ignore the role these cities play as locations for industrial production. Friedmann (1986) is alone in incorporating this function in his criteria for global cities. Elsewhere, mention is only made of the industrial sphere in global city debates at second remove in conjunction with the locations of the corporate headquarters of large industrial firms (cf. Sassen 1991) or in fleeting references to the role played by global cities as centres of the generation of knowledge and economic innovation. Studies of the specific function of global cities and "globalising cities" in the industrial development process tend rather to have been carried out in the field of regional studies. The debate on "new industrial spaces" and technology districts, in particular, and on the formation of urban production clusters in the culture industry contains plenty of references to the major role that global cities and metropolitan regions continue to play in industrial development (Scott 1988 and 1997; Storper 1997; Rehfeld 1999; Krätke 2000; Krätke & Borst 2000; Schamp 2000). In many cases they provide central locations for new "knowledge-based" production chains and for highly innovative production clusters in the fields of information and communications technology, medical engineering, biotechnology, the media industry, etc. These urban innovation centres for "new" and "old" industries are often characterised by extensive networking within metropolitan areas and by strong supra-regional connections with the innovation centres in other metropolitan regions - including in other countries. Thus, the relations between innovative firms in the high-technology clusters of Munich and San Francisco (Silicon Valley) contribute to the worldwide networking of industrial innovation processes. These trans-national connections between urban production and innovation locations might even be considered as a major element at the heart of the phenomenon of "globalising cities" (i.e. the globalisation of cities that do not rank among the limited number of "first rank" global cities).

The economic and functional changes in position of the global cities are determined today by processes of selective geographical concentration of global service capacities as well as "innovative" production clusters and industrial capacities. In the global cities and metropolitan regions both these elements regularly overlap, which means that economic prosperity here can be based both on the capacities in the field of specialised corporate services and on highly innovative regional industry structures (Krätke 1997). In their recent joint publication on "Global City Regions" (Scott 2001) emphasis is also placed by Scott et al (2001) on the diversity of economic sectors (industries and service sectors), which tend towards agglomeration and the formation of clusters in the global city regions and which together transform these geographical production centres into "regional motors of the world economy".

Whereas the traditional concept of the "services metropolis" stresses the importance of the specialised corporate services of a city for the regional economy and the respective national economic area, global city research concentrates on the global reach of the service capacities of a city. A characteristic feature of both global and globalising cities is that they have a concentration of firms from the specialised corporate services sector, whose specialist knowledge and trans-national organisational network give them a "global competence" (Beaverstock, Smith & Taylor 1999). This "global competence" of the service complexes in the international urban system was recently the subject of an empirical study carried out by the Globalisation and World Cities Study Group (GaWC). Whereas Sassen (1991) analysed only the "big three", the GaWC researchers attempted to classify a large number of cities from regions all over the world by taking the global competence of their service providers as a criterion and subsequently using threshold values to allocate them to groups referred to as alpha, beta and gamma world cities (Beaverstock, Smith & Taylor 1999; Taylor & Walker 2001; Taylor & Hoyler 2000). Their classification was based on the extent of the presence of internationally operating service firms (with a trans-national network of branch offices) in four sub-sectors - management and tax consultancy, advertising, the financial sector (banks) and legal counselling - in a large number of cities. The result of this systematic, multi-sectoral evaluation of cities was the identification and classification of global service centres that are distributed across Japan, the USA and Europe. Beaverstock, Smith & Taylor (1999) pointed out, however, that their listing and ranking of global cities was based on a single function and that global cities are more than just the business centres of global corporate service providers.

The GaWC researchers analysed the trans-national location networks of a multitude of global service providers (Taylor & Walker 2001). They regard these corporate location networks as forming a tangible connection between cities, i.e. as the expression of a global city network that is based on the organisational networks of global service providers. The structures of these corporate and city networks were subjected to a detailed examination, which revealed a considerable variability in the geographies of globalisation. There is no "simple" network of global cities, to which global service providers can be allocated in any foreseeable way. On the contrary, the four sub-sectors in which global service providers are active (corporate and tax consultancy, advertising, legal counselling) tend to have clearly distinguishable locational networks ("different office geographies"). Hence the knowledge gleaned on international financial centres, for instance, does not permit any forecasts to be made about the business centres of global firms in the advertising industry. In other words, there are "many geographies of globalisation" (Taylor & Walker 2001). Overall, the findings of these in-depth empirical analyses reveal the geographical complexity of globalisation that cannot be reduced to a simple hierarchy of global cities with global service providers.


Few forms of globalisation can be observed or experienced so directly today as the global circulation of symbols and images and the worldwide distribution of cultural forms, media formats and cultural commodities. New communications technologies and the emergence of large multinational groups within the culture and media industries contribute to a global flow of cultural forms and products, whose reach, intensity, speed and diversity far exceed the cultural globalisation processes of previous eras (cf. Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perraton 1999). Cultural globalisation interpreted as meaning the global proliferation of cultural relations and practices cannot proceed without certain infrastructures and institutions for the transfer, reproduction and reception of cultural forms and commodities on a global scale. Today, these infrastructures and institutions comprise telecommunications infrastructures, such as satellites and digital transmission systems, as well as the "linguistic infrastructure" of one or more world languages. On the other hand, they also include the organisational and institutional infrastructure of multinational firms in the culture and media industries, which have set up global networks for the production and distribution of cultural commodities and media services. The emphasis below will be on the corporate infrastructure that produces and distributes the content and products for a globalised cultural market. Since the 1970s, the liberalisation and deregulation of the telecommunications and media industries have fostered several trends, which have together led to the globalisation of the corporate media sector. This is reflected in the percentage shift in market share from the public to the private media sector, the growing concentration of capital, the increasingly trans-national organisation of culture and media firms (that is effected by acquisitions and the setting up of subsidiaries and branch offices in different countries and regions of the world), and the diversification of the business segments of large media firms, which is manifested in the integration of various branches or types of cultural products and media formats.

The present-day flows of cultural globalisation proceed primarily from the industrialised nations of the West and their market-focused culture and media industries, in which the US culture industry occupies a prominent position as an exporter of products and images from the realm of popular culture. The formats and contents of cultural productions in Western countries circulate among European countries and between the USA and Europe and they are also available virtually anywhere in the world. In countries without a culture and media industry of their own or one that is only very weak, imported products from the Western (in particular the US) culture industry dominate the "local" cultural market. However, this situation cannot be taken as indicative of a trend towards the global "homogenisation" of cultural consumption. While a trend of this kind can be assumed for the mass consumption of popular culture products in Western industrialised countries (particularly in the fields of film and music) and especially so among the younger generation, there is no justification for concluding that there is a trend towards homogenisation in other cultural activities. Moreover, even the global firms in the culture and media industries are obliged to take account of specific tastes and cultural preferences in other countries and regions. The producers and market strategists employed by global cultural enterprises are well aware of the cultural variety and differentiation of their global audiences, customers and consumers and have long given their products and programmes a "regional touch" with a view to stabilising or enhancing their global market success. In other words, they have adapted their products and programmes to specific regional or national tastes and cultural preferences. A good example of this is the successful global TV music broadcaster, MTV, which does not simply reproduce the content of the MTV programme in the USA for consumption in all the other regions of the world, but has set up a series of "regional" MTV channels (including several for the European region alone), which produce and vary the programme in accordance with regional tastes and preferences. This trend towards cultural market differentiation is at the same time a driving force for the organisation of global production networks in the culture and media industries with "local" anchoring points in different regions and nation-states, which is very well illustrated in Europe, where there is considerable cultural diversity.

Today's cultural economy is characterised not only by a growing concentration on a world scale and the geographical concentration and formation of clusters in a series of metropolitan and global cities, but also by a marked trend towards the globalisation of corporate organisation (Robins 1995; Pratt 2000). The growing concentration of capital combined with mergers and acquisitions is leading to the formation of huge media groups, which not only occupy a prominent position in the cultural economy of individual countries, but are also creating an increasingly global network of branch offices and subsidiaries. This global network of firms linked under the roof of a media group has its local anchoring points in those centres of the worldwide urban system that function as "cultural metropolises", i.e. as centres of cultural production. These cities are not always centres for the providers of global corporate services, as has been established in research into the present system of world cities. Nevertheless, the cultural economy is a prime mover for globalisation processes in the urban system, in which urban business centres and cultural production clusters act as "local nodal points in the global networks" of the large media groups. Thus globalisation is being actively "produced" in specific places, in particular in the urban centres of the international media industry.

It should be pointed out, however, that the globalisation strategy pursued by media firms is not geared, as is the case in many industrial groups, to cost cutting through the use of "cheap" labour and the like, but primarily to market development and the extension of market penetration through the establishment of a presence in the major international centres of the media industry. Secondly, the globalisation strategy of media firms reveals a strong "trend towards innovation" for the simple reason that a presence in the leading centres of cultural production gives the global media groups the chance to incorporate the latest fashion trends in the cultural industry as quickly as possible through their integration into the respective local clusters of the regional economy and at the same time to exploit the latest technological developments in the media sector (e.g. in digital image processing, special effects, transmission technologies and Internet applications). The global players in the culture industry network at the local level with the small specialised producers and service providers, thereby establishing a global network of their branch offices and subsidiary firms, which links the internationally distributed urban centres of cultural production with one another. The establishment of a global location network of business units that are integrated at the same time into the local clusters of the cultural industry enables the large media groups to tap the globally distributed creative potential that resides in cultural production. The large media groups are pursuing a policy that involves the integration and recombination of value chains in the cultural economy at both the national and global level. Essentially it is a question of bringing together all the links in a media industry value chain under the roof of a globally operating cultural enterprise. An association of business units of this kind can include TV and film production firms, film laboratories, special digital effects firms, film distributing agencies, TV stations and cinema chains, distribution firms and firms dealing in cinema and television licences. It can also extend to other sectors of the cultural economy, such as the music industry, the print media, the advertising industry and, more recently, Internet services. This leads to the emergence of highly diversified media groups. The diversification of the media groups is reinforced by changing trends in the media industry, which is reflected in the use of the term "media convergence". Technological innovations in the field of information and communications technology have found their way into large parts of the media industry and are leading to a shift of market shares in favour of the so-called new media in the field of online and mobile communications. New high-performance network infrastructures are providing the media industry with considerable scope for innovations, such as new media formats, new digital production technology and new forms of marketing, such as online information services, web TV, interactive cable TV, etc. (Baldwin, McVoy & Steinfield 1996). The crucial feature of media convergence, however, is the capacity to simultaneously distribute and exploit the same "content" via different media, e.g. the print media, TV programmes and Internet services.

The global media groups are organising the worldwide marketing of their respective cultural products and are thus contributing to the global spread of media content and formats, which are generated in the production centres of the global cultural industry, in particular in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, Munich and Berlin. In this respect the globalisation of the cultural economy differs in only minor respects from the globalisation processes in other areas of industry and services.


A study of the location networks of business units within global cultural enterprises makes it possible to trace the structure of the global network of media centres and metropolises in the cultural economy in the same way as global city research has done with regard to advanced corporate services (see above). What is of interest here is a comparison between the global system of strategic economic centres, which has been established by global city research, and the global system of media cities. Global media firms have a network of branch offices, subsidiaries and holding firms that are distributed not just in the regional business area and the national economic area, but worldwide across a series of cities.

This global network of associated firms under the roof of a media group has its local anchors in those places of the worldwide urban system that function as centres of cultural production. The cultural economy thus constitutes an important driving force for globalisation processes within the urban system, in which the urban business centres and clusters of cultural production function as "local nodes in the global networks" of business units within large media groups. In this way globalisation is "produced" at specific locations, particularly in the urban centres of the international media industry. The globalisation strategy pursued by cultural firms is geared, in particular, to opening up markets and increasing market shares by means of a presence in the key international centres of the media industry. Hence, multimedia agencies acquire other firms, for instance, in order to ensure a share of the market at an early stage. Firms located in other countries are of particular interest here, "because they enable large international customers be serviced on the spot", as the President of the German Multimedia Association pointed out (Tagesspiegel, 14 January 2001). The setting up of branch offices or subsidiary firms around the world allows for the quicker and more direct establishment of links with potential clients in the respective business region, particularly in those places where new media services are entering a phase of expansion (as is the case today in the economic centres of East Central Europe and Eastern Europe), in which a major project can develop from modest beginnings.

The production cluster of the film industry in Potsdam/Babelsberg on the outskirts of Berlin was taken as an example (Krätke 2002 b) to show that cluster firms are not only closely networked within the local business area, but are also integrated into the supra-regional location networks of global media firms. In the case of Babelsberg the local cluster firms are directly linked with the resident business units of global media firms from Paris, London and New York and indirectly linked with other global players in the film and TV industry thanks to their business contacts with the media firms that are resident in Berlin. In other words, the global players in the culture industry network locally with the small specialist producers and service providers, while at the same time running a global network of branch offices and subsidiaries that permits global linking of the urban centres of cultural production. This connection between global networking and local integration can be seen in Figure 1, which shows the network of subsidiaries and holding firms operated by Das Werk AG (film industry, specialising in post-production and digital effects).

In order to carry out an empirical study of the network of globally linked media cities and the relative importance of the various urban nodes in the global cultural economy an analysis was made of the location networks of 33 global media industry firms with a total of 2,766 business units (establishments). To qualify as "global" a media firm had to have a presence in at least three different national economic areas and at least two continents or "world regions" (USA / Canada / Latin America; Europe; Asia / Australia; Africa) with its branch offices, subsidiaries and holding firms. This selection criterion was based on conditions that differ from those required for a listing of the world's largest media firms by turnover or workforce. The 33 global media firms included here (see Appendix) incorporate not only the largest firms in the world in terms of sales and employees, but also a number of relatively "small" global firms. Some major groups that are frequently listed in analyses of the media sector turn out on closer inspection to be conglomerates with a completely different business focus, e.g. in the construction or energy sector, which have simply incorporated a large media industry firm of some kind. No account is taken of such conglomerates in this analysis (nor of the individual cases of subsidiary or holding firms of genuine media groups that are "alien to the industry").

The media firms, on which the analysis is based, constitute a relevant section of the overall number of global firms in the cultural economy, although the analysis could certainly be given greater depth and precision if more firms were to be included. In their initial study of the global city system based on the worldwide location networks of "advanced producer service" firms Beaverstock et al (1999) also incorporated only 47 global firms at first. In contrast to the present analysis of the media industry, however, the analysis of sub-sectors, such as corporate consultancy, legal counselling and advertising services, carried out by Beaverstock et al was based on a smaller number of global players. In some cases, the 33 global media firms have a different emphasis in their business activities (e.g. film / TV / radio, music industry, publishing, advertising industry). The largest media firms often reveal a diversification of their business activities extending across various business areas in the media industry.

The construction of the "world media cities" network is based on the concept that the world cities in the cultural industry can be portrayed as nodal points of location networks run by global firms in the media industry / cultural economy, just as in more recent studies the global cities of the world economy have been presented as nodes of location networks operated by global corporate service providers. The geographical organisation of global media firms should not be interpreted as a star-shaped hierarchical structure, but rather as a network of business units (acting on their own responsibility), between which there are many different information and communication flows enabling special regional or local impulses and customer requirements to be picked up and processed in a flexible manner worldwide. In a "global" media city there is a partial overlapping between the location networks of several global media firms in the urban economic space. The local and the global firms in the cultural economy and media industry are linked here in a functional and development context that can foster the formation of an urban media cluster, whose international business relations are handled primarily via the global media firms that are present.

In order to make a record of the location networks run by global media firms the locations of all their branch offices, subsidiaries and holdings were ascertained (as far as that was possible) and entered in a list of 284 cities distributed all over the world. Locations in the surrounding regional area of a city / metropolis were allocated to the higher-ranking centre. In other words, the location area was recorded as being an urban region or metropolitan region. The outcome is a ranking of the cities based on the number of business units of globalised media firms that are located in the region. Secondly, an indication was obtained of the number of firms from among the 33 global media firms (maximum = 33) that were present in the respective urban region irrespective of the number of business units within the same corporate group. This made it possible to present a system of world media cities in the form of readily distinguishable groups once comprehensible threshold values were determined. It should be borne in mind here that, when examined in detail, such threshold values may appear to be relatively arbitrary and that a modification of the threshold values would entail a change in the group allocations. There is simply no "single correct" group formation. As long as the threshold values and evaluation data are transparent, the critical reader can easily deduce the consequences of a modification of threshold values for the group formation.

In this analysis the "world cities of the culture industry" were distinguished by means of two criteria and divided into three groups: alpha, beta and gamma world media cities. An alpha world media city had to have more than 17 of the 33 global media firms (i.e. over 50% of the global players analysed here) in its location area (first threshold value) and more than 60 business units from among the global media firms included had to be present (second threshold value). A beta world media city had to be the location for more than 11 (i.e. over a third) of the global media firms incorporated und more than 30 business units of these firms had to be present in its business location area. A gamma world media city had to be the location for more than 8 (i.e. over a quarter) of the global media firms incorporated and over 20 business units of these firms had to be present. The presence of a minimum number of global media firms as a prerequisite for a ranking as a global media city serves as an important control criterion for the exclusion of cities in which individual media groups with a large number of business units are present. The city of Gütersloh is well known as the headquarters of one of the world's biggest media groups (Bertelsmann) and the location of at least 23 business units of this one group. However, a concentration of this kind cannot justify the city being ranked as a "global media city". The characteristic feature of world media cities is precisely that they can point to an overlapping of the location networks of a large number of global (plus nationally significant and local) media firms. The results of the grouping of global media cities is presented on the following pages in the form of a table and a synthetic "world map" of the world media cities system (see Table 1 and Figure 2).

The analysis shows, first of all, the markedly unequal distribution of the establishments of global media firms over no more than a handful of cities. The seven cities in the alpha group, which represent just 2.5 % of the total number of 284 cities included, account for as much as 30 % of the 2,766 establishments of global media firms that were recorded, while the 15 cities in the beta group (with a share of 5.3 % of all the cities studied) provide the location for a further 23 % of the registered establishments. Thus, over 50% of the branch offices and subsidiary firms of global media groups are concentrated in 22 locations within the worldwide urban system. If the 17 cities in the gamma group are included, which account for a further 17 % of the business units of global media firms, the share of the 39 global media cities increases to 70 %, i.e. over two-thirds of the establishments registered. The organisational units of the globalised cultural economy and media industry reveal a highly selective locational concentration on a global scale.

Prominent among the alpha world media cities are New York, London, Paris and Los Angeles, which are ranked as "genuine" global cities in virtually every analysis of the global urban system. They are also designated here as world cities in the culture industry. It was Knox (2000), in particular, who stressed that a characteristic of global cities was that they should not only be centres of global corporate services, but also major centres of cultural production and the media industry. That view is vindicated by the present analysis. However, among other cities that qualify as global media cities there are interesting deviations from the widely employed global city system, to which attention will be drawn below. Based on this analysis, the alpha group of global media cities also includes Munich, Berlin and Amsterdam, three cities that in global city research, which focuses on corporate services, are ranked as ("third-rate") gamma world cities (Beaverstock, Smith & Taylor 1999). In the system of global media cities, by contrast, Munich, Berlin and Amsterdam are included in the top group. Of the 33 global media groups included in the analysis between 18 and 29 are to be found in the alpha group cities, the most - 29 - being in London with 26 in Paris and 25 in Los Angeles. However, Munich, Berlin and Amsterdam have achieved a degree of integration into the location networks of global firms in the media and culture industries that qualifies them as internationally outstanding centres in the cultural economy.

Berlin, in particular, could take the message spelled out by this analysis as a reason to make the cultural economy and the media industry core areas of its economic development policy and to further enhance the "local" creative potential of the cultural economy as an important attractiveness factor for a world media city. The analysis indicates that Berlin is a city that is now (once again) gaining worldwide importance, especially in cultural production and the media industry. Berlin's international reputation as a cultural metropolis was an important urban development factor in the 1920s. This reputation can now be restored on the basis of current economic developments and exploited for the development of the city. However, while Berlin is still not a global city, when defined as an economic centre with global "control capacities" and as a centre of strategic corporate services (Krätke & Borst 2000), it is a first-rank global media city in terms of being a creativity centre for cultural production and the media industry with a worldwide significance and impact.

The group of beta world media cities covers 15 cities, most of which are to be found in Europe, plus Toronto and Sydney. Three of these second-rank global media cities - Brussels, Zurich and Madrid - are also designated as beta world cities in analyses of the global city system (Beaverstock, Smith & Taylor 1999). While Milan is classified as an alpha world city, it only ranks in the category of beta world media cities in the system of global media cities. Interestingly enough, Warsaw and Budapest, the capitals of two East Central European countries, now rank among the beta world media cities, thus illustrating the geographically selective incorporation of cities in East Central Europe into the globalised locational network of firms involved in cultural production and the media industry. Of the 33 global media groups analysed 16 currently have a presence in Warsaw and 15 in Budapest. Another important centre in East Central Europe - Prague - is less well integrated into the network of global media cities than Warsaw and Budapest, although it is included in the third-rank (gamma group) of world media cities. Of the five major centres of the media industry in the Federal Republic of Germany (Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Frankfurt am Main) Berlin and Munich are in the alpha group, while Hamburg - due to its less marked integration into the locational networks of global media firms - is included in the group of beta world media cities and Cologne in the group of gamma world media cities. Frankfurt am Main, which generally appears in the alpha group in other global city research, forms part of the beta group (second-rank media cities) in the analysis of global media cities.

The group of gamma world media cities includes 17 cities that are distributed all over the world. Cities in Asia, such as Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as cities in Latin America, such as Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, are all included in the "third-rank" group of global media cities. Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, which are to be found among the leading global cities in the world economy based on the criterion of a concentration of global financial and corporate services (Beaverstock, Smith & Taylor 1999), are of only minor importance when it comes to their integration into the locational networks of the global media firms. However, these centres also contain important concentrations of the respective national media industries, whose international reach is more focussing on Asian countries. Nevertheless, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong do rank among the group of world media cities, which means that their frequently one-sided incorporation into the world economy can be strengthened or extended by the global media firms that are resident there.

A look at the synthetic world map of global media cities (see figure 2) reveals a further contrast between the global city system, as approached from a traditional standpoint, and the system of global media cities: Whereas the global city system, which is based on "advanced producer services", is relatively evenly represented in all the major regions of the world (with the exception of Africa) in the form of several first, second and third-rank global cities, the system of global media cities reveals a clear inequality of distribution in favour of the European economic area. Of a total of 39 world media cities 25 are in Europe, 9 in the USA, Canada and Latin America, and 5 in Asia and Australia. Africa is not incorporated to any relevant extent in the global location networks of the media industry. Australia has one beta world media city (plus Melbourne in the gamma group), while Asia and Latin America each have only three third-rank world media cities. Canada has one global media city and the USA has five centres. What is remarkable is the polarity in the group of US global media cities, three of which are in the gamma group (Chicago, San Francisco and Boston), whereas integration into global location networks of the cultural economy is concentrated on just two outstanding centres - New York und Los Angeles - which rank among the alpha world media cities. Europe, on the other hand, has the largest number of global media cities in all the categories. Hence, the system of global media cities reveals a clear inequality of distribution in favour of Europe, where strength results from diversity, since the European area has a large number of nation-states compared with the USA and a multitude of distinct "regional" cultures. The network as a whole is a reflection of the locational system run by the western-style media industry, which concentrates primarily on North America and Europe. Large media groups with a trans-national impact exist, for instance, in Asia, but the cities of Asia are not incorporated to the same extent as cities in Europe and North America in the western-style globalised media industry.

Europe is thus a centre of global cultural production and media industries based on the criterion of a distribution of centres of activity operated by global media firms. It is well known that, if the number of the world's largest media groups and market share are taken as criteria, the cultural industry of the USA leads the field in many sectors. However, even if many of the global media groups with the biggest turnover have their headquarters in the USA (especially in New York and Los Angeles), Europe is the world region, in which these media firms and their international location networks are intensively anchored. This is the result, on the one hand, of a market development strategy and, on the other, of a strategy of integration into important regional production clusters of the cultural industry and of the tapping of the innovation potential in the "media cities" on a worldwide scale. The very high level of differentiation in the network of the global media cities in Europe (in contrast to the USA) can be regarded as a strong point of the European economic area. Europe has a polycentric network of major centres of cultural production and the media industry that enables global media firms to link up in a multitude of media cities with the special local clusters of cultural production, thereby enabling the media industry to exploit a highly differentiated production potential. A European development strategy in the field of culture and the media industry could find a useful point of departure in the varied potential that Europe's media cities have to offer.

Europe's cities differ not only in terms of the extent of their incorporation into the location networks of global media firms (as has already been analysed), but also in terms of the profile of the resident global media firms. There are, for example, European cities, whose global media industry integration stems primarily from large European media firms, and others in which this integration is determined first and foremost by organisational units of US media groups. The different profiles of European cities based on the type of resident global media firms can be established with the help of a principal component analysis, which is based on a matrix table of 83 cities in Europe and 33 global media firms. Using the principal component analysis method these 83 cities with their special "mix" of organisational units from among the group of 33 global media firms are put together in a limited number of groups. At the same time those cities, whose global media industry integration extends across several groups, are highlighted. These groups of cities appear in the principal component analysis as "factors", to which individual cities are allocated on the basis of their "factor loadings". In the most straightforward case each city achieves a high factor loading as regards just one factor. In other words, it can be easily allocated to a certain group. However, cities often have high loadings in more than one group, i.e. they are characterised simultaneously by different types of global media firms. The global media firms included can be grouped by the location area of the parent firm or its corporate headquarters (in Europe, the USA, South-East Asia, etc.) and by their focus of activity (e.g. film and multimedia industry, advertising industry, publishing trade, etc. or diversified media groups without a clear-cut sectoral emphasis). The four groups (factors) that emerged with the help of the principal component analysis serve to underline the different profiles of the global media industry in European cities. Hence there are

  1. cities, in which diversified European media groups determine the global media industry sector,

  2. cities, in which the global media industry sector is dominated by USA firms,

  3. cities, in which European film and multimedia firms determine the global media industry sector, and

  4. cities, in which the global media industry sector is dominated by European firms in the advertising industry.

The group of media cities dominated by US firms makes clear the extent of US influence on the organisational networks of the global media industry of European cities. By contrast, the influence of the content of US cultural productions, such as Hollywood films, on the design and content of cultural production in European countries cannot be covered by this type of analysis. As has already been pointed out, individual cities can be allocated to these groups in accordance with their "factor loadings" (in this analysis a threshold value of 0.5 rather than the maximum value of 1.0 was used to allocate a city to a particular group). In the overview (see Figure 3) the individual cities are allotted to the four groups and emphasis is given to those cities that can be classified as alpha or beta world media cities depending on the extent of their integration into the location networks of global media firms.

Of the 83 cities in Europe that were included, the resident global media firms in 26 cities (that is less than one-third) were under the dominant influence of US media groups. Among them were the beta world media cities Milan, Athens and Frankfurt- Main, plus a relatively small number of cities from East Central Europe (Prague, Bratislava, Ljubljana) and Eastern Europe (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev). Other cities in this group reveal the primary influence of US media groups and a secondary influence exercised by European diversified media groups. They include the alpha world media city of Amsterdam and the beta world media cities of Brussels and Budapest. The influence of US firms is present in a further 11 cities, but it is "second-rate" compared with the status of European global media firms. These cities include London, Warsaw, Madrid, Stockholm and Oslo. In conclusion, it can be stated that the organisational networks of the global media industry in European cities are by no means dominated by US media groups. It is rather the case that US media groups exert a marked influence in only a limited number of cities.

The largest number of European cities included (34 out of 83) form part of the group in which the diversified European media groups determine the global media industry sector. They include the alpha world media cities London and Paris as well as the beta world media cities Hamburg, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Zurich, Madrid and Warsaw, plus a fairly large group of cities in Great Britain. As has already been pointed out, some of the cities in this group are subject to the secondary influence exerted by US media groups (London, Madrid, etc.).

Another important group is formed by the 16 cities in Europe, in which European film and multimedia firms dominate the global media industry sector. They include the alpha world media cities Berlin and Munich and a large number of cities in Germany (e.g. Cologne, Mainz, Leipzig, Karlsruhe), plus Rome, Bologna, Naples and others. In a number of these cities the global media firm sector is determined in the second instance by European diversified media groups. This applies, in particular, to Berlin, Cologne, Rome and Basel.

Only a small number of the European cities that were included can be allocated to a group in which the global media industry sector is dominated by European advertising firms. They include first and foremost Strasbourg, Valencia, Seville and Minsk plus Belgrade, Lyon und Marseilles. However, this is no more than a marginal group in the principal component analysis. These cities can in no way be used to identify the leading centres of the advertising industry in the European urban system. The most important advertising firms in Europe today are part of large diversified media groups. This means that the real centres of the advertising industry are to be found in the other groups described above. It is the first three groups, in particular, that illustrate the different profile of European cities in the context of the global culture and media industries.

In a nutshell, while the variety in the geographical configuration of globalisation processes must be stressed in respect of the sectoral "mix" of global corporate services and the groups of global cities distinguished on this basis (cf. Taylor & Walker 2001), it can also be stated in respect of the aforementioned groups of global media cities that there are many geographies of globalisation, reflected not least in the various types of incorporation of European cities into the globalised culture and media industries.

This analysis of the world media cities system shows that, in a whole series of European cities and metropolises, cultural production and the media industry constitute an important area of competence (and one that is becoming increasingly relevant in terms of employment), which makes these cities into nodal points in the world global integration of the culture and media sector. Hence it is precisely in this area of competence that opportunities arise to develop or reinforce other rapidly growing nodal points of global economic integration outside the major centres in the core area of the EU (e.g. London and Paris), i.e. in such media cities as Berlin, Warsaw, Vienna and Barcelona.


To return to the point of departure of this article - the comprehensive merging of culture and market - an outline of the relationship between urban development and the culture industry shall be provided, in which culture and media firms act as lifestyle producers in the network of the global media cities. This includes the production of lifestyle images, on which many lifestyle groups are now based. The current "lifestyle producers" are active primarily in the culture industry and they are concentrated in certain locations within the global urban system, from which they spread lifestyle images in the global network of cities. In the cultural globalisation processes the media cities function as the central production locations of lifestyle images.

In the globalising cities of today, individual living patterns and lifestyles are less and less an expression of regional ways of life. The correspondence between culture and geographical area is evaporating. Under the conditions of globalisation there is a penetration of social worlds across all geographical boundaries, and cultural difference manifests itself in a variety of living patterns and lifestyles without any clear-cut geographical anchors. Cities become locations for trans-culturality in the sense of a mixture of cultures or the coexistence and occasional interplay of different cultures and lifestyles in one and the same place. One contributory factor in this respect is the globalisation of the culture and media industries. Major centres within the urban system are often the production locations of material and symbolic cultural commodities for a global market. Moreover, a whole series of world cities, especially from the group of global media cities, are places where certain lifestyle images are "filtered out" from the local living and working worlds and distributed globally via the culture industries. While this by no means constitutes a trend towards the homogenisation of cultures, it does exert an influence on the lifestyles of the elites in the global economy and of other social strata and ultimately leaves its stamp on the market-relevant style elements of youth cultures. Differentiation in urban social structures and interaction between different cultures in cities do not constitute a new phenomenon as such. However, in the context of the present-day debate on globalisation they have focused attention on the fact that the social and cultural differentiation of cities involves "regrouping" processes and the partial accentuation of differences. Moreover, this differentiation is not an urban phenomenon alone, but is influenced by worldwide material and communication links (also between cities).

The youth cultures of today exhibit especially "fluid" cultural forms. Communicated via the media, they are subject to global proliferation and intermixture. One need only think of MTV and the images it spreads. Cultural images disseminated globally by the media have a far greater influence on forms of self-stylisation in the 12 to 17 age group than among those who are over the age of 40. Youth cultures are heterogeneous, greatly dependent on media communication and globalised as regards many elements of style.

Since lifestyles in the context of globalised media consumption are formed to a very large extent by lifestyle images, the question arises as to where these determining images come from. Their producers are to be found in the culture and media industries, and the production locations of lifestyle images are to be found primarily in the world media cities, a special group of centres within the global urban system (see above). If the special social impact of a cultural economy with a host of "image production activities" is taken into account, this field of social production constitutes not just one economic sector among others, but an area of activity that has a direct influence on large sections of the economy and social communication as well as an impact on consumption patterns and lifestyles. In virtually all branches of the economy "market success" today is based largely on the construction of images and their communication via the media. To that extent the cultural economy and the media industry have long been key industries. As has already been pointed out, the "image production" activities of the cultural economy extend not just to product images created by advertising and design agencies, but also to the lifestyle images disseminated by the programmes produced by the entertainment industry and the media world. In conjunction with the increasing mediatisation of social communication and the consumption and entertainment sphere, the cultural economy functions as a "trend machine" that picks up on the trends developing primarily in the leading media cities, exploits them commercially in the form of a packaging and re-packaging of lifestyle elements, and transmits them worldwide as part of the phenomenon of globalisation. The global export activities of the culture and media industries have an influence at the "receiving end" in terms of an impact on everyday cultures, i.e. value systems, everyday practices and ways of life. Imported cultural commodities have symbolic messages attached to them and they influence or penetrate the processes of cultural development in the reception locations, which are situated at a greater or lesser "cultural distance" from the export centres and, therefore, process, mix and recombine these messages / images in different ways.

The production locations of lifestyle images are urban clusters of cultural production that are established primarily in cities. The local concentration of these branches of activity in special "districts", which tend to be situated in inner-city areas, is not determined solely by the economic driving forces of the formation of local and regional production clusters in knowledge and design-intensive sectors of activity. It also has to do with urban lifestyles. In large cities, such as New York, London, Berlin etc., cultural production and media industry firms prefer inner-city locations in which living and working environments merge with leisure-time culture. The specific quality of urban life clearly becomes an attractiveness factor here, which is constituted by the players in the cultural economy themselves. For corporate operators and employees in the media industry the local connection between working, living and leisure time activities is an attraction factor that is in harmony with their lifestyle. These people deliberately seek out locations in a "sub-cultural" urban district that they can use as an extended stage for self-portrayal during working hours and in their leisure time. In the local media clusters there is thus a direct link between certain lifestyle forms and urban organisation forms of the production area and thus a clear overlapping of the geographies of production and consumption (Krätke 2002).

Moreover, the city as a whole can become an attractiveness factor in that the symbolic quality of the specific location is either incorporated into the products of the cultural economy or the origin of these products itself becomes a mark of quality (Scott 1997). Hence production locations such as New York, Paris and Berlin are perceived in the sphere of culture and the media as being "brand names" that draw attention to the attractive social and cultural qualities of the cities concerned. This includes, in particular, the perception of the city as a metropolitan area, in which there is a special variety of different social and cultural milieus. As regards the content and "design" of their products, cultural production and media industry firms have to contend with rapidly changing trends. For that reason there is a wish to be near the source of new trends, i.e. the sub-cultures that develop in certain metropolises, such as New York, Paris and Berlin. Cities of this kind are perceived as constituting a social and cultural potential marked by great openness. This in turn enhances their attractiveness for "creative talents" and makes them a source of inspiration for cultural producers. A marked social and cultural variety and openness, therefore, represents a specific "cultural capital" for a city, which is highly attractive for certain economic activities and players. This form of a city's cultural capital is concentrated to a special extent in global cities and it acts as an additional agglomerative factor in the (selective) concentration of the culture and media industries in the international urban system.


The present-day culture industry is characterised in its economic organisation by the globalisation of large media groups. These global players in the culture industry network locally with the specialised producers and service providers in the urban clusters in this field and form at the same time a global network of branch offices and subsidiary firms, by means of which the urban centres of cultural production are linked with each other worldwide. The geographical organisation of global media firms should not be conceived of as a "star-shaped" hierarchical structure, but as a network of business units, between which there are many and varied information and communication flows that enable special regional or local impulses and customer requirements to be picked up and processed in a flexible manner worldwide. In "global media cities" there is an overlapping of the location networks of a large number of global media firms. At the same time, the global and local firms operating in the cultural economy are linked in terms of their development, which is fostered by the networks of economic relations in the urban media clusters. An analysis of the world media cities enables those locations to be identified, from which globalisation in the spheres of culture and the media proceeds and is "produced" in practical terms. The contents and designs produced here have a worldwide impact on consumption patterns and lifestyles. The cultural economy, as has been pointed out, engages in commercial exploitation of new styles and trends through the packaging of lifestyle elements and their distribution worldwide. For the process of globalisation, therefore, in a context of the "culturalisation of the economy" the globally operating media firms are at least as influential as the global providers of corporate services, because they create a cultural market of global dimensions, on the basis of which the specialised global corporate service providers can ensure the practical management of global production and market networks (as was established by Sassen in 1996). Even more than the global providers of corporate services and the global financial jugglers it is now the cultural economy and the media industry that are leaving their stamp on the process of globalisation in that they are pressing ahead with the cultural integration of ever larger parts of the world into the Western-style "market society".


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* Stefan Krätke, Economic and Social Geography, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)

Table 1:

Figure 1:

Figure 2: Global Media Cities as Central Nodes of Global Media Firms' Locational Networks

Figure 3:



Edited and posted on the web on 15th March 2002

Note: This Research Bulletin has been published in European Planning Studies, 11 (6), (2003), 605-628