Introducing GaWC

GaWC logo
  Gateways into GaWC

Go to: [Research Group Members]

Introducing GaWC: Researching World City Network Formation

P.J. Taylor, D.R.F. Walker and J.V. Beaverstock

Although the lineage of world city studies can be traced back to well before 1980, it is only in the last two decades that a concerted research effort has emerged. This development has been intimately related to new ways in which social scientists have conceptualised the world-economy, first as 'the new international division of labour' and subsequently as 'globalization'. Specifically, the emergence of advanced computer-communication technologies has been emphasised for creating powerful control capabilities in a new global space of flows. The most explicit example of these developments has been in financial markets. This has led to important work on cities as 'international financial centres' (Cohen, 1981; Thrift, 1987). A second strand has taken a broader view of what is happening in the world's major cities. John Friedmann (1986; Friedmann and Wolff, 1982) has identified a process of 'world city formation' of which financial markets are only one, albeit important, aspect. We follow Friedmann's lead in adopting a more holistic approach to the study of today's major cities.

A key question to be answered in contemporary urban studies is why under conditions of instantaneous communication, which would seem to favour decentralisation or even homogenisation, there is still a functional need for large world cities. Answering this question has produced two distinctive schools of thought, one specifically 'urban', the other keeping the 'network' to the fore. These are best represented by the work of Michael Storper (1997) and Saskia Sassen (1991, 1994) respectively. For Storper the new enabling technologies - he calls them new 'metacapacities' - have not resulted in dispersion, rather particular concentrations of economic activities have developed. He argues that the contemporary world-economy is characterised by a reflexive economics in which to be successful entrepreneurs have to be part of a knowledge-rich, continual learning process. Such processes can only be collective and very specific to different places: they result in local assets which are difficult to duplicate elsewhere. He uses Hollywood as an obvious example of such processes. Cities enter his argument as privileged sites of such reflexivity, dense networks of learning practices which steer the contemporary world-economy. This urban theory provides a very good explanation of why cities are prospering as places, but has little or nothing to say about networks of cities. For this we have to turn to Sassen's identification of global cities. In an argument similar to the concept of economic reflexivity she identifies the production of advanced producer services as the distinguishing characteristic of contemporary world cities. Narrower in conception to Storper's definition - reflexivity is to be found in industrial production as well as services - Sassen's global cities are, nevertheless, much more than places where large numbers of financial transactions take place. Advanced producer services provide world-wide assistance to global capital but they are much more than that; they are creative in making new products in finance, law, accountancy and so on, which require the rich knowledge base in cities which Storper describes. The key difference is that for Sassen these cities are part of a network of strategic locations, hence the learning has to transcend particular places. The network of world cities, and not just single cities, is intrinsic to the process. We follow Sassen's lead here by focusing upon world city network formation.

The Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Research Group and Network is a real and virtual organization1 dedicated to the study of inter-city relations under conditions of contemporary globalization. We introduce GaWC in this paper in two stages. In the first section we describe the need, origin, rationale and operation of GaWC. In the second section we present a selection of results from GaWC research projects culminating in a preliminary quantitative presentation of a world city network.


The most familiar of all world maps is that which depicts the sovereign states of the world. This mosaic of territories defines a world of boundaries, emphasising national differences while totally ignoring spatial connections. This omission of the space of flows from a basic popular cartography is much more than a geographer's problem. It reflects a taken-for-granted-world image which prioritises nation-states as the basic units of humanity. As such its influence far transcends the map which hangs on all geography classroom walls. We describe this as embedded statism, a geopolitical feature of the modern world which entails viewing social relations through the distorting lens of state-centrism. GaWC is part of a research programme which is dedicated to overcoming embedded statism.

This section is divided into four parts which develop an argument from quite abstract considerations through to specific measurement questions. Embedded statism can be described as the dominant metageography of contemporary society: in the first part we set this in the context of alternative metageographies. However today, state-centrism is so pervasive that even the information we have to understand our world is indelibly linked to a metageography of states. Part two introduces Loughborough University's Global Observatory which was set up as a web site to provide data alternatives to counter the inherent bias in the usual data sources. Hence the site's logo slogan: "Beyond State-istics". Only the basic framework of the Observatory has been put in place and, given the potential size of the undertaking, moving forward has required concentrating research efforts. This exercise in selectivity has resulted in GaWC as the chosen vehicle: it develops one element of the Observatory and the way in which this operates is described in part three. In the final part we focus on the data problems to be found in world city research as a prelude to the second empirical section of the paper.

Alternative Metageographies

During one of the early Apollo flights one of the astronauts experienced a fundamental revelation: looking back to Earth he noticed there were no political boundaries. In fact it is often argued that the Great Wall of China is the only human feature on the Earth's surface which can be seen from space. This is not strictly correct; once day turns to night the archipelago of modern human settlements is visible from the artificial light which is created. And this shows a pattern dominated by the great cities of the world. The apocryphal visitor from another planet would certainly get the impression of a city-dominated civilisation on Earth. For the people living on Earth, however, it is the political boundaries which loom large in their geographical imaginations.

Metageographies are the basic large-scale spatial frames by which people order their world (Lewis and Wigen, 1997). These exist at different scales and may be vague in conception but are no less important for that. Hence broad dualities such as 'North-South' and 'East-West' have been crucial to recent geopolitical positions but have not fully replaced the traditional division into 'continents' - the geographical entity 'Africa' currently exists as a social construct with largely negative images for instance. However, underpinning all such representations there is the map of sovereign states, the multi-coloured wall map which, despite recent political upheavals, seems to continue to exude an almost 'natural' aura (Jackson, 1990): this is the metageography behind embedded statism. This is because territorial sovereignty is the basic building block of the politics of the modern era (Taylor, 1999a). Like the continental levels of geographical imagination, it is a metageography rooted in bounded spaces. Globalization is a direct challenge to the dominance of such territorial thinking.

Geographical boundaries are never completely sealed. There are links and connections between areas which will vary by circumstance. These define a space of flows to exist alongside the space of territories. Such a space of transnational transactions has always been crucial to the development of the modern world-system (Arrighi, 1994) but it has not figured prominently in modern peoples' geographical imaginations. Globalization is changing this as it provides an alternative metageography. This is best represented by Manuel Castells (1996) with his work on the 'network society'. He describes a space of flows existing at several levels starting with the basic electronic infrastructure; the world city network represents one of the higher levels of spatial organisation. It is the latter that has the potential to create an alternative metageography and which is our concern here.

In summary, we juxtapose our alternative metageography of a network of world cities - a space of flows - against the dominant, conventional, metageography of nation-states - a space of territories.

Beyond State-istics

Despite its critical credentials, social science has not escaped embedded statism (Taylor, 1996). In fact it can be argued that the reason for the success of the three core social sciences - economics, political science and sociology - in the twentieth century is because they have each met the policy reform agendas of states. The social sciences are both the creations and, thus have become, the creatures of states. This has become particular evident when their state-centric theories have been confronted by trans-state processes of globalization (Taylor, 1996; 1997).

Theory begets data; data begets theory. This elementary synergy makes breaking out of state-centric thinking a difficult undertaking. The Global Observatory was set up at Loughborough University as a virtual centre (a web site) to aid in tackling the data side of the problem. No matter how good our new theories, they remain mere speculation or gross assertion unless rooted in appropriate evidence. It is this empirical grounding which concerned the Observatory as it was built upon three premises. The globalization premise is that contemporary social change is proceeding at an unprecedented rate, many of the key processes behind it are operating at a global scale, and those processes are fundamentally trans-state in nature. The data deficiency premise is that although there has never been as much information for describing the world as exists today, the vast majority of data are collected for states and are about states and as such facilitate international comparisons (e.g. the large data tomes published by the UN) but not the study of trans-state processes. The organisation lacuna premise is that while many social scientists have recognised the problem and have either had to make do with international data or have created their own project-specific data, there has been no centre acting as a clearing house for the critical research issues that arise from the mismatch between a trans-state world and state-based data. Must states (and through them UN agencies) continue to be the only public source of data on large-scale social change? The Loughborough Observatory was designed strategically to fill this lacuna.

An elemental web infrastructure has been created2 with entry points through particular trans-state topics. These are organised into two groups: six 'patterns' (or entities such as world cities and global corporations) and seven 'processes' (or flows such as financial transactions and commodity flows). This structure embodies a basic wish list for date production and development for trans-state research. Converting wishes into reality is another matter however. To take the project forward required selectivity, concentration on particular data deficiencies where research pay-offs might be predictably achieved. Eschewing the pattern/process division, we chose world cities with their associated flows as the route forward, hence the creation of GaWC.

To summarise: The Global Observatory was set up to promote development of trans-state data, GaWC is a spin-off from this project to illustrate pragmatically how we can proceed 'beyond state-istics'.

The GaWC Research Group and Network

When Riccardo Petrella (1995), the 'official futurist of the European Union', was asked recently to speculate about the near future he chose to contrast 'two mental maps of the world system' in which major city regions (our world cities) would have either a positive or negative impact by the year 2025. The details of his predictions need not concern us here but what is of interest is the fact that neither prediction is state-centric, both are city-centric. It is entirely appropriate that this metageography should be coming to the fore in this continent where states first subsumed cities in the construction of modern capitalism (Tilly, 1990; Taylor, 1995). The irony is that the end-result of an European Union of states is likely to be a new 'Europe of Cities'. Hence although the launch of the euro was seen as a pooling of state financial sovereignties, perhaps its most important long-term effect will be the setting up of the new European Bank in Frankfurt, not London. 'London versus Frankfurt' as Europe's leader within global finance and banking is just the sort of issue, the type of world, which GaWC has been set up to study. (For a local example of where the space of cities is confronting the space of territories, as Barcelona versus Catalonia, see Morata, 1997).

GaWC is organised around three major related activities. First, we are a research group based around a collection of projects about world cities. Currently projects have been Loughborough-based but we are actively working on new projects which will involve research partners from other universities. Ultimately this type of 'global research' will require multiple site studies so as to create the necessary broad knowledge base. Currently our projects have been focused on London (to meet British ESRC 'national efficiency' concerns) with comparisons reaching New York and Singapore. Plans are in development for further work on Amsterdam, Caracas, Chicago, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Miami and Shanghai. Second, beyond our research partners, we aspire to be the world clearing house for world city research. In this we take advantage of the speed and flexibility inherent in GaWC's electronic existence. In the slow world of conventional article publication, with two years between initial writing and publication not uncommon, we offer an electronic outlet of immediate issuing as 'GaWC Research Bulletins'. In this electronic publication series papers are made available in early form (as submitted to journals, for instance) and then as regularly revised through to the final version which may still have to wait more than six months for hard-copy publication. The latter now represents only 'the final solid record' of the paper, as it were.

The third major GaWC activity is also its initial raison d'être : the production and development of inter-city data. This derives from our previous arguments; for instance we have much information on relations between France and the UK but relatively little on relations between Paris and London. Data comes from three sources. First, the data from all our projects is automatically posted in our data bank. Second, we invite researchers with inter-city data to post it on our site or else allow us to point to it from GaWC. Third, we are proactive in trying to stimulate the generation of inter-city data. This has involved creating standardised data collection procedures for use in graduate research projects so that generated data is comparable across case studies (Beaverstock et al. 2000). The end result is a data bank accessible to anyone across the world with Internet technology. It is therefore public data but not state-centric data. As with all other information of this type, we promote its use in research and teaching and ask only that appropriate acknowledgement be made.

In summary, GaWC aspires to be the virtual centre for the study of relations between world cities under contemporary conditions of globalization. Further details of activities listed above can be found at

The Paradox of World City Research

Before we look at some of the early results of GaWC projects, it is useful to say a little more about the research niche we have occupied. Our starting point is the identification of a curious paradox in the literature on world cities. This can stated simply: whereas the essence of world cities is their relations one to another, researchers have generally not focused on this aspect of their being (see Taylor (1999b) for direct evidence of this). Studies of world cities belong largely to two types: case studies and comparative studies. Whether looking at the one or the few, such studies leave relations between cities as either assumed or asserted. This is a specific case of the data problem described above: researchers can use urban data from national census returns to describe and analyse patterns within cities but there is little information on trans-state inter-city relations. Ipso facto , inter-city relations are neglected hence the paradox we began with.

Smith and Timberlake (1995) have constructed a typology of inter-city linkages based upon the form (human, material, information) and function (economic, political, cultural and social) of flows. Twelve types are thus identified but the authors have to admit that they constitute little more than a 'wish list' for world city research. There is some inter-city flow data available, for instance on airline traffic and telephone calls, but these tend to be very general in nature so that their relevance to world city formation is compromised. For instance, scheduled flights into Miami includes the holiday and the seasonal retirement market as well as the economic growth associated with the city's role as an important centre in the world city network. For the most part, until GaWC is fully developed, researching inter-city relations means collecting and creating new and original sets of data.

The research we have been funded for thus far has been within an area of study known as the new economic geography of services. This attempts to understand the growth of services in the contemporary economy through studies of service firms. We combine this with Sassen's insight that it is advanced producer services which particularly distinguish world cities to turn the focus from firm to city: firms are our subjects, cities are our objects of study. In practice this means collecting information on the office network of producer service firms. Although this does not directly measure flows between cities, a firm's global strategy - in which cities it chooses to set up branch offices - must imply both control and information connections. Aggregating large numbers of such strategies across several services will, therefore, indicate inter-city relations. This is what we report upon in the next section.

In summary, world city research is a classic example of state-centric data distorting research output: the dearth of inter-city data causes a neglect of inter-city analysis. This is GaWC's niche.


This section is a review of early findings of some GaWC research. It is intended to show the empirical potential of GaWC; given the neglect of inter-city studies, some relatively elementary measurement exercises can provide new and original insights into world city network formation. Hence the emphasis below is upon empirical results to the detriment of both details of production of the data and full reflection on the theoretical implications of the research.

The data we employ consists of the distribution of offices of producer service firms across cities. Hence we are looking at the location strategies of firms under conditions of globalization. However, although firms are our subjects, it is cities which are the objects of our analyses. We report on six separate analyses, with a core data set of 69 firms (5 accountancy, 14 advertising, 11 banking/finance and 39 law) across 263 cities for 1997/8. The choice of firms is that they are global producer service firms, otherwise the choice is purely arbitrary in terms of data availability (i.e. we have been able to find information on their complete global network of offices). The numbers in each sector reflects degrees of corporate concentration from the "Big Six" in accountancy to law as the least 'globalised' service. Data collected varied by firm from simple presence/absence in a city to information on the relative importance of offices, notably in terms of how many practitioners in a firm are based there. Not all analyses use the same information from the data which will become clear as we proceed.

The GaWC Inventory of World Cities

There is no agreement as to the roster of world cities. There is obvious agreement for the leading cities (London, New York, etc.) but no clear cut off point as to when a city should not be considered a world city. The most commonly referenced rosters are those of Friedmann (1986, 1995) but these are not based upon any substantial or systematic analysis of the evidence. Is Lisbon a world city? Is Kuala Lumpur or Mumbai? It depends who you read (Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999, Table 2). Hence the first task of GaWC has been to create a preliminary roster of world cities, empirically-based on our initial data collection. This is carried out in two stages. First, we estimate the global capacity of cities separately for each of the four services we have data on. We use information on the presence, size and roles of offices in cities across the world. Second, we aggregate these sector results to define levels of 'world city-ness'. We designate 55 cities to be world cities and find another 67 cities showing evidence of world city formation (for full details see Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999a).

The first stage consisted of finding global service centres at various levels for the four sectors. In order to avoid any idiosyncratic feature of a single firm (i.e. additional offices in their 'home' country), for each sector only cities in which at least two firms are represented were considered to be global service centres. This resulted in 78, 67, 68 and 72 cities for accountancy, advertising, banking/finance and law respectively. With much overlap between sectors this produced 122 cities as candidates for world city status. For each service sector three levels of presence were identified - prime, major and minor - on the basis of size and importance of offices. Thus each of the 122 cities can be scored 0 (not qualified) to 3 (prime centre) for each sector. Sums of these scores produces a figure which indicates a city's 'world city-ness' up to a maximum of 12. For instance, London is a prime centre for all four sectors and thus scores 12; Wellington, New Zealand scores just 1, featuring only as a minor centre in the advertising data. Table 1 shows all 122 cities from London to Wellington allocated to the twelve levels of world city-ness.

The division of these cities into different classes of world city formation has been carried out using simple logical criteria. Any city scoring 10 or above must feature as a service centre in all four sectors. Furthermore, if it is a minor centre in one sector, this would have to be compensated for by it being a prime centre in the other three sectors. In addition it must be prime in at least two sectors, and the other two would have to be major designations. Ten cities qualify in this top class which are designated alpha world cities . As we might expect, there are no surprises at this end of the distribution with 4 cities from western Europe, 3 from the USA, and 3 from Pacific Asia.

For the second class of world cities, we identify any city scoring 7 to 9. Such a city must be a global service centre for at least 3 of the four service sectors and must be a prime or major centre in at least two sectors. Ten cities qualify as beta world cities . The same three world regions are represented as for prime world cities but with 'outer' cities appearing such as Sydney, Toronto, Mexico City and Moscow. In addition, a third world region appears: Sao Paulo of South America.

As mentioned previously, it is at the bottom end of the scale where uncertainty reigns for designating world cities. We have decided to define cities scoring 4 to 6 as gamma world cities . With these scores, all cities must be a global service centres for at least two service sectors. This definition catches 35 further cities again distributed largely across the three main regions but with another 3 representatives of South America. Africa has its first city in our list, Johannesburg, but there are still no world cities found in south Asia or the Middle East (if we count Istanbul as European). The remaining 68 cities are designated as having evidence of world city formation processes but the evidence is not strong enough to really call them world cities. The interesting cities are those 12 scoring 3 and here we find one Middle East city, Tel Aviv, and two south Asian cities, Mumbai and New Delhi, which perhaps, signify the early stages of filling in the voids on the global world city map (see Figure 1).

In summary, this is the first time at roster of world cities has been identified and classified on the basis of a systematic analysis of empirical data.

The Question of Regions and Hierarchies

As originally suggested by Friedmann (1986), many world cities seem to operate by articulating their national economy into the world-economy. But there are others which have a wider regional role. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is Singapore which is a city-state and the most important world city in south east Asia. Hence between the global headquarters of producer service firms and the national economy articulators there are regional world cities. Data for 11 of our firms (2 in accountancy, 2 in advertising, 5 in banking/finance and 2 in law) provide some preliminary evidence for this aspect of world city network formation (for further discussion of this example, see Taylor (2000)).

As before, we avoid idiosyncratic results by including only cities which feature in at least two firms' regional organisation. Despite being based upon relatively little data, the results are quite stark: we find only 9 cities with regional responsibilities in our data ( Table 2). Furthermore, only five of these seem to be important regional centres (i.e. used as such by 5 or more firms) and the discussion will be based around them.

London. At the regional level London operates as the main centre for both Europe (with only Brussels as minor rival), sometimes including the Middle East, and as extra-mural centre for Africa (with Paris [for francophone Africa] and Johannesburg as minor rivals).

New York/Miami. There seems to be a simple division of labour here: where there is a single centre for the Americas it is New York, where there is a division New York is the North America centre and Miami appears as the centre for Latin America. Hence Miami operates as an 'extra-mural centre' with respect to Latin America in the way London does for Africa.

Hong Kong/Singapore. This is the example with explicit rivalry. Although these two cities are centres for their own regions, north east and south east Asia respectively, when no such division is made (for instance as in Asia or Asia-Pacific office designations) Hong Kong edges out Singapore only by 3 to 2 for the larger regional responsibility. It should be noted that where Tokyo appears as a 'regional headquarters' its region is limited to just Japan; this city seems not to have developed responsibilities beyond its own state.

Our preliminary results are clear here: the world city network is regionalised into three 'pan-regions' with few smaller world cities emerging as regional centres (see Figure 2). The great exception is Miami.

In summary, this is the first time the world hierarchy of world cities has been as defined and described by world regional organisation (rather than the simple ranking of cities to be found in the literature).

Detecting Concentration Processes: The 'Enhanced Tail' Feature

Our full data set records 2925 presences of firms across the 263 cities. Such large sets of data lend themselves to elementary distribution analyses. This involves creating a frequency distribution showing the numbers of cities housing different totals of firms. Such distributions can be modelled as probability functions to provide insights into the empirical pattern.

The frequency distribution for this data is shown in Figure 3. One very noticeable feature is the long right-hand tail indicating many cities housing relatively large numbers of firms. This can be compared to a random allocation of firms to cities which would generate a Poisson probability distribution. In such a theoretical distribution no cities would be expected to have more than 15 firms which means our empirical distribution has a very enhanced tail: 65 cities have more than 15 firms. This indicates that there are exceptional non-random concentration processes operating to produce such distribution. This is not surprising, of course, in an urban analysis where some form of hierarchy is the norm, but the length and size of the tail in this case will reflect the particular concentration processes which Sassen (1994) argues are operating under contemporary conditions of globalization.

All the global firms we are dealing with are 'London-located global firms' (LLGFs). Looking at the data from the perspective of London does produce interesting results. For instance, if the particular numbers of firms are converted into percentages of the maximum (69), then we can interpret the results as the chances of a firm in a given city having a direct (intra-firm) office link to London. For instance, Hong Kong has the highest total of LLGFs (52) in our data which translates into a 75% probability that if a client enters an advanced producer service office in Hong Kong, there will be a direct organisational link to London. The top ten cities in terms of these probabilities are shown in Table 3. No surprises here, all the alpha world cities appear except Chicago and they are joined by Brussels and Moscow, two cities with obvious but different appeals to London based firms (EU headquarters, and centre for post-Soviet transition respectively). This points to further London-centric analysis but before we present this, it is instructive to look at the service-specific distributions of offices (see Taylor, 2000).

The frequency distributions of 262 cities (i.e. not including London) in terms of how many LLGFs they house are shown for each sector in Figure 4. In these diagrams accountancy differs from the other three services in having its mode at its maximum frequency: all five accountancy firms are to be found in 136 of our cities. This distribution reflects the fact that accountancy is the most globalized of producer services. Although this is not a surprising result, the stark contrast with the other services is instructive. The three other services have their mode at zero presence although the dominance of this mode decreases in the order law-banking/finance-advertising which suggests an ordering in their respective levels of globalization with law the least developed. Again not a surprise but this has never been illustrated so directly before.

For the three distributions with zero modes the 'enhanced tails' are quite marked. This means that we can identify those cities where concentration processes are acting by focusing on frequencies above where the distribution changes direction. These 'tail cities' are identified in Tables 4 to 6. As in Table 3, the frequencies have been converted into percentages so that for each city in these tables the figures indicate the percentage probability , when you enter a London office, of that firm having a direct link to that city in terms of another of the firm's network of branches. Thus, for banking/finance ( Table 5) you can be certain (the probability is 100%) that the LLGF will have offices in the other two world financial centres, New York and Tokyo. The more interesting results come when you go down the list and when you compare it with the other two sectors. For instance, the dominance of Brussels in law ( Table 6) and the prominence of European cities in advertising ( Table 4) are noteworthy.

Most of our data contains much more information than merely presence as analysed above. In order to retain as much information as possible we have created an ordinal-level set of measures by combining all the different types of information we have (see Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999b). Since the data combined to ordinal level maintains more information, analysis of this data will be more instructive. We begin the analysis, as before, with frequency distributions for all 262 cities for each service sector ( Figure 5). Again the accountancy distribution is distinctive but, compared to simple presences, it is much more suggestive with its central mode and two-tails. The other three distributions continue with their zero modes and enhanced tails but the cities are more widely dispersed compared to simple presences.

The tails of all four distributions have been abstracted from the distributions in this analysis. For advertising, banking/finance and law turning points for the enhanced tail are used; for accountancy the abrupt change in declining levels is used as break point. All scores are again converted to percentage of the maximum possible to facilitate comparison. The lists of cities with high levels of connectivity to London are shown in Tables 7 to 10 for accountancy, advertising, banking/finance and law respectively. Compared to the simple presence analysis, this new analysis shows several noteworthy results especially the recognition of New York as London's main 'partner': in banking/finance New York is now above Tokyo and the latter is joined by Singapore and Hong Kong at the top of the table; in advertising New York's dominance now becomes very clear; in law, New York and Washington are now above Brussels; and finally, for the first time in an analysis of tail distributions, we can see that the high level accountancy linkages includes New York at the top with 4 other cities.

In summary, this is the first time a comprehensive analysis of cities has detected concentration processes and the cities where they are manifest.

The GaWC Index of London's External Relations

Focusing on just the other 54 world cities, the levels of linkage to London are brought together in Table 11. In this table we can observe variations among world cities; where there are strong links to London and where they are relatively weak. For example, although as political centres both Brussels and Washington, DC are particularly strong in law linkages, the former has the more overall even profile. However, the most interesting feature of this table is the final column giving average scores across the four producer services. This defines the GaWC Index of London's External Relations (Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 2000).

In Figure 6 world cities are arrayed in five groups. The overall dominance of the London-New York link, with score out on its own at 87, is designated as London's 'prime link'. The next two highest links (Paris-London at 68 and Hong Kong-London at 64) each connect London to the other two major world regions and are designated 'major links'. Other connections scoring over 50 then become 'important links' with two lower levels of links also identified. The clear message of this diagram is world-wide scope of London's linkages and this is neatly confirmed by a regional analysis.

The 54 world cities fall neatly into 5 world regions plus an additional British Commonwealth non-contiguous class of cities: 16 are in western Europe , 12 are from Pacific Asia , 11 are from the USA , and there are five each from eastern Europe , Latin America , and the old Commonwealth (Australia, Canada, South Africa). Average levels of connection for these groups of cities are shown in Table 12 . Perhaps the lack of major variation in average scores is the main feature of this table which confirms London's world-wide reach. The highest score for the old Commonwealth indicates longer term linkages than contemporary globalization but the three main 'globalization arenas' (western Europe, Pacific Asia and the USA) have very similar scores. This shows that London is much more than just 'Europe's representative', articulating Europe into the world-economy, in a 24-hour globalizing financial market. The geographical reach of London confirms its location in the contemporary space of flows as truly, using Sassen's (1991) terminology, a global city (Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999b).

In summary, this is not only the first time London as a major world city has been analysed comprehensively in terms of its linkages with other world cities, it is the first time this type of analysis has been done for any world city.

Local Mixes of Firms across World Cities

In the final two sections we report on on-going work that uses a slightly different data set, one which focuses upon the larger firms. We have identified 46 firms which have offices in 15 or more different cities. The main difference from the previous list of firms is the removal of many small London-based law firms and the addition of three US law firms without London offices. In addition this data is limited to just the 55 world cities previously identified. The result is a 55 x 46 data matrix with each cell scoring a firm's position in a city from 0 (no presence) to 3 (major presence).

The simplest analysis of such data is to correlate the cities in terms of how similar they are in terms of the mix of firms they house. The higher the correlation between two cities, the more firms they share and with similar levels of presence. To illustrate this form of analysis, Table 13 shows correlations between the alpha world cities; the higher correlations are displayed in Figure 7. The two highest correlations are between London and New York and between Hong Kong and Singapore which is what we might expect although no such analysis has previously been shown this. However, when we look at the overall pattern of the higher correlations, some interesting features appear (Figure 7). Certainly the former pairing seems more isolated than the latter. This implies the global cities of London and New York have between them quite distinctive mixes of firms.

A full analysis of the data matrix involving all 55 cities has been carried out using a principal components analysis. This uses the correlations to define the main dimensions in the data, in this case grouping cities in terms of their mixes of firms. This work is in progress (see Taylor and Walker, forthcoming) but preliminary results show a complex pattern of inter-regional, regional and city dimensions. For instance, London and New York appear as a separate 'global city component' replicating Figure 7, and two other cities define their own individual components: Moscow and Miami ('gateways' to post-Soviet economies and Latin America (see Figure 2) respectively). Other components highlight major regions such as Latin America, Pacific Asia, western Europe, eastern Europe and the USA. In fact the locational clusters in these results show that even among large firms, location strategies under conditions of globalization seem to be more regional than world-wide in nature.

In summary, this analysis is the first to group world cities into types in terms of the firms they house. Classification is a necessary beginning to understand world cities beyond hierarchies.

A Preliminary Description of a Network of World Cities

Assuming intra-firm knowledge and information flow in servicing clients is greater than inter-firm flows, the previous analysis can be used to infer a network pattern. This is no doubt the reason for the regional findings and also some elements of hierarchy which are found in the structures (Taylor and Walker, forthcoming). But there is a way of going beyond such inferences to a more direct measure of inter-city relations. This relates to some of our previous London analysis which we extend to all cities.

From each city, we can compute the total level of intra-firm service to each other city. Currently this has been carried out for just alpha cities and using only presences (Beaverstock et al., 2000). Table 14 is an asymmetric matrix showing probabilities of connections between cities. Each cell contains the percentage probability that a firm in city X will have an office in city Y. Thus, Table 14 shows that if you do business with a Chicago-based firm, then there is a 91% probability that that firm will also have an office in Frankfurt. On the other hand, go to a Frankfurt-based firm and the probability of it having an office in Chicago is only 66%. These probabilities of connection define vectors which are shown for two different levels: prime vectors highlighting the dominance of London and New York, and secondary vectors in which the Pacific Asian cities feature prominently (Figure 8). Notice the marginal positions of Los Angeles and especially Chicago. We describe this as the New York shadow effect: it seems that many firms who do business in the USA focus upon just one single office in New York (Beaverstock et al., 2000). This is unlike other globalization arenas which are more politically fragmented necessitating firms to locate in cities in different countries. This may have profound effects on US cities in world city competition.

The end result of this research will be structural analyses of directed graphs for all 55 cities; work is in progress.

In summary, we have presented a preliminary glimpse at a world city network defined by office relations between cities. This will be the culmination of this strand of research, until work such as this is completed we do not even have the basis for understanding world city network formation.


The fact that every summary in the empirical second section of the paper has been able to claim 'firsts' in what are very basic and ultimately elementary empirical analyses provides very strong support for the arguments in the first section of the paper on the dearth of trans-state data and analysis. All that is being reported is the barest skeleton of a global structure, but one not previously revealed despite the two decades of world city research. It is an indicator of the difficulty of 'doing global research' in the social sciences that these first steps have been so delayed. Hence the need for an institution like GaWC.


Arrighi, G (1994) The Long Twentieth Century (Verso, London)

Beaverstock, J V, Smith, R G and Taylor, P J (1999a) 'A roster of world cities', Cities 16, ***-***

Beaverstock, J V, Smith, R G and Taylor, P J (1999b) 'The global capacity of a world city: a relational study of London', GaWC Research Bulletin 7

Beaverstock, J V, Smith, R G and Taylor, P J (2000) 'World city network: a new metageography', Annals, Association of American Geographers (special millennium issue), ***-***

Beaverstock, J V, Lorimer, H, Smith, R G, Taylor, P J and D R F Walker (2000) 'Globalization and world cities: some measurement methodologies', Applied Geography 19, ***-***

Castells M (1996) The rise of the network society (Oxford, Blackwell)

Cohen R J (1981) 'The new international division of labour, multinational corporations and urban hierarchy' in Dear M and Scott A J (eds) Urbanisation and urban planning in capitalist society (Methuen, London) 287-318

Friedmann J (1986) 'The world city hypothesis' Development and Change , 17, 69-83

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

Friedmann J and Wolff G (1982) 'World city formation: an agenda for research and action' International Journal of Urban and Regional Research , 3, 309-344

Jackson, R H (1990) Quasi-states (CUP, Cambridge)

Lewis, M W and Wigen, K E (1997) The myth of continents (University of California Press, Berkeley)

Morata, F (1997) 'The Euro-region and the C-6 network: the new politics of sub-national co-operation in the western Mediterranean area', in Keating, M and Loughlin, J (eds) The Political Economy of Regionalism (Frank Cass, London)

Petrella, R (1995) 'A global agora vs. gated city-regions' New Perspectives Quarterly , Winter, 21-2

Sassen S (1991) The Global Cities (Princeton Uni. Press, Princeton)

Sassen S (1994) Cities in a world economy (Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks)

Smith D A and Timberlake M (1995) 'Cities in global matrices: toward mapping the world-system's city system' in Knox P L and Taylor P J (eds) World Cities in a World System (CUP, Cambridge)

Storper, M (1997) The Regional World (Guilford, New York)

Lewis, M W and Wigen, K E (1997) The myth of continents (University of California Press, Berkeley)

Taylor, P J (1995) 'States and world cities: the rise and demise of their mutuality' in Knox, P L and Taylor, P J (Eds) World Cities in a World-Economy (CUP, Cambridge)

Taylor, P J (1996) 'Embedded statism and the social sciences: opening up to new spaces', Environment and Planning A 28, 1917-28

Taylor, P J (1997) 'Hierarchical tendencies amongst world cities: a global research proposal', Cities 14, 323-32

Taylor, P J (1999a) Modernities: a Geohistorical Interpretation . (Cambridge, UK: Polity and Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press)

Taylor, P J (1999b) 'So-called "world cities": the evidential structure within a literature', Environment and Planning A 31, ***-***

Taylor, P J (2000) 'World cities and territorial states under conditions of contemporary globalization', Political Geography 18, ***-***

Taylor, P J and Walker D R F (forthcoming) 'World cities: a first multivariate analysis of their service complexes'

Thrift N (1987) 'The fixers? the urban geography of international commercial capital' In Henderson J and Castells E (Eds) Global restructuring and territorial development (Sage, Beverly Hills, CA) 203-233

Tilly, C (1990) Coercion, Capital and European States, AD 990-1990 (Blackwell, Oxford)


1. The GaWC web address is: < >

2. The Global Observatory web address is: < >

Cities are ordered in terms of world city-ness with values ranging from 1 - 12.

12: London, Paris, New York, Tokyo
10: Chicago, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Milan, Singapore

9: San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, Zurich
8: Brussels, Madrid, Mexico City, Sao Paulo
7: Moscow, Seoul

6: Amsterdam, Boston, Caracas, Dallas, Dusseldorf, Geneva, Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Osaka, Prague, Santiago, Taipei, Washington
5: Bangkok, Beijing, Montreal, Rome, Stockholm, Warsaw
4: Atlanta, Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Budapest, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Miami, Minneapolis, Munich, Shanghai

Di Relatively strong evidence
3: Athens, Auckland, Dublin, Helsinki, Luxembourg, Lyon, Mumbai, New Delhi, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv, Vienna
Dii Some evidence
2: Abu Dhabi, Almaty, Birmingham, Bogota, Bratislava, Brisbane, Bucharest, Cairo, Cleveland, Cologne, Detroit, Dubai, Ho Chi Minh City, Kiev, Lima, Lisbon, Manchester, Montevideo, Oslo, Rotterdam, Riyadh, Seattle, Stuttgart, The Hague, Vancouver
Diii Minimal evidence
1: Adelaide, Antwerp, Arhus, Baltimore, Bangalore, Bologna, Brazilia, Calgary, Cape Town, Colombo, Columbus, Dresden, Edinburgh, Genoa, Glasgow, Gothenburg, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Kansas City, Leeds, Lille, Marseille, Richmond, St Petersburg, Tashkent, Tehran, Tijuana, Turin, Utrecht, Wellington

Table 2: Regional responsibilities
City :
Coopers and Lybrand x x x x x
KPMG x x x x
Dentsu x x
Young and Rubicon x x x x x
Bankers Trust x x x
Barclays x x x
Credit Suisse Group x x x x x
Standard Chartered x x x x x x
UBS x x x x
Baker & MacKenzie x x
White & Case x x
TOTAL 5 6 9 2 2 2 6 6 3

Table 3:

1. 75 Hong Kong
2. 72 New York
3= 65 Paris
3= 65 Singapore
5. 64 Tokyo
6. 55 Brussels
7. 52 Frankfurt
8. 51 Moscow
9. 48 Los Angeles
10. 46 Milan

Table 4:

(Percentage chance of a city having a branch of a LLGF)

100%: Brussels, Madrid, New York, Toronto;

91%: Milan, Paris, Singapore;

82%: Amsterdam, Auckland, Budapest, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Stockholm, Sydney, Vienna, Zurich;

73%: Athens, Bangkok, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Lisbon, Manila, Melbourne, Moscow, Prague, Tokyo;

64%: Beijing, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Montevideo, Montreal, Mumbai, San Francisco, Santiago, Seoul, Sofia, Taipei, Warsaw;

55%: Bangalore, Brisbane, Bucharest, Cairo, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Guayaquil, Hamburg, Ho Chi Minh City, Jeddah, Kuwait, Lima, Ljubljana, Miami, New Delhi, Oslo

Table 5:

(Percentage chance of a city having a branch of a LLGF)

100%: New York, Tokyo;

93%: Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Singapore;

86%: Frankfurt, Milan;

79%: Paris, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Sydney. Toronto, Zurich;

71%: Bangkok, Caracas, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Madrid, Manila, Santiago, Seoul, Taipei;

64%: Beijing, Bogota, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, Labuan, Moscow, Mumbai;

57%: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Houston, Luxembourg, Manama, Melbourne, Montreal, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, Warsaw;

50%: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Budapest, Dublin, Miami, Munich, Shanghai

Table 6:

(Percentage chance of a city having a branch of a LLGF)

82%: Brussels;

64%: Hong Kong;

51%: New York;

49%: Paris;

44%: Singapore, Tokyo;

38%: Washington, DC;

33%: Moscow;

26%: Frankfurt;

23%: Los Angeles;

18%: Budapest, Prague, Warsaw 

Table 7:

(Numbers are percentages of maximum possible (= 15) from sum of ordinal/ised scores)

93%: Dusseldorf, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Toronto;

87%: Chicago, Milan, Sydney, Washington, DC;

80%: Atlanta, Brussels, Frankfurt, San Francisco;

73%: Amsterdam, Dallas, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Montreal, Munich, Osaka;

67%: Berlin, Boston, Copenhagen, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Rotterdam, Seoul, Stockholm, Zurich;

60%: Birmingham, Jakarta, Lyon, Manchester, Philadelphia, Rome, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Stuttgart, Vancouver

Table 8:

(Numbers are percentages of maximum possible (= 21) from sum of ordinal/ised scores)

90%: New York;

76%: Brussels, Madrid, Sydney, Toronto;

71%: Milan, Paris;

67%: Los Angeles, Singapore, Stockholm;

62%: Amsterdam, Auckland, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Lisbon;

57%: Athens, Dusseldorf, Melbourne, Prague, San Francisco, Vienna, Zurich;

52%: Barcelona, Helsinki, Hong Kong;

48%: Bangkok, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Montreal;

43%: Beijing, Caracas, Jakarta, Manila, San Francisco, Santiago, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, Warsaw;

38%: Budapest, Buenos Aires, Hamburg, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Miami, Moscow, Mumbai, Oslo

Table 9:

(Numbers are percentages of maximum possible (= 38) from sum of ordinal/ised scores)

95%: New York;

79%: Singapore;

76%: Hong Kong, Tokyo;

66%: Frankfurt;

61%: Paris, Zurich;

55%: Sydney;

53%: Madrid;

50%: Milan, Taipei;

47%: Mexico City, Seoul;

45%: Sao Paulo;

42%: Jakarta, Los Angeles;

39%: Buenos Aires, Dublin, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, San Francisco, Toronto;

37%: Bangkok, Dubai, Geneva;

34%: Luxembourg, Manama, Manila, Mumbai;

32%: Abu Dubai, Athens, Chicago, Johannesburg, Labuan, Melbourne, Prague, Santiago, Shanghai;

29%: Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro;

26%: Amsterdam, Beijing, Bogota, Brussels, Cairo, Caracas, Houston, Miami, Warsaw

Table 10:

(Numbers are percentages of maximum possible (= 65) from sum of ordinal/ised scores)

68%: New York;

60%: Washington DC;

54%: Brussels, Hong Kong;

48%: Paris;

34%: Los Angeles;

32%: Tokyo;

31%: Singapore;

28%: Moscow;

23%: Frankfurt;

20%: Chicago;

18%: San Francisco, Warsaw;

17%: Budapest;

15%: Beijing;

14%: Dallas, Houston, Prague

Table 11:

Amsterdam 73 62 26 6 42
Atlanta 80 10 3 0 23
Bangkok 47 48 37 11 36
Barcelona 40 52 29 8 32
Beijing 40 43 26 15 31
Berlin 67 10 11 6 24
Boston 67 24 16 8 29
Brussels 80 76 26 54 59
Budapest 40 38 24 17 30
Buenos Aires 47 38 39 5 32
Caracas 47 43 26 6 31
Chicago 87 29 32 20 42
Copenhagen 67 62 3 0 33
Dallas 73 24 11 14 31
Dusseldorf 93 57 16 5 43
Frankfurt 80 48 66 23 54
Geneva 47 14 37 3 25
Hamburg 73 38 14 0 31
Hong Kong 73 52 76 54 64
Houston 53 5 26 14 25
Istanbul 33 62 21 3 30
Jakarta 60 43 42 6 38
Johannesburg 73 38 32 0 36
Kuala Lumpur 53 38 39 0 33
Los Angeles 73 67 42 34 54
Madrid 67 76 53 11 52
Manila 40 43 34 5 31
Melbourne 67 57 32 6 41
Mexico City 67 48 47 8 43
Miami 47 38 26 12 31
Milan 87 71 50 11 55
Minneapolis 47 14 0 0 15
Montreal 73 48 21 0 36
Moscow 53 38 39 28 40
Munich 67 5 14 2 22
New York 93 90 95 68 87
Osaka 67 0 16 0 21
Paris 93 71 61 48 68
Prague 33 57 32 14 34
Rome 60 14 18 8 25
San Francisco 80 43 39 18 45
Sao Paulo 60 57 45 9 43
Santiago 60 43 32 5 35
Seoul 67 43 47 0 39
Singapore 53 67 79 31 58
Shanghai 40 33 32 5 28
Stockholm 67 67 8 8 38
Sydney 87 76 55 8 57
Taipai 53 43 50 5 38
Tokyo 93 43 76 32 61
Toronto 93 76 39 6 54
Warsaw 40 43 26 18 32
Washington, DC 87 5 14 60 42
Zurich 67 57 61 5 48

Table 12:

Western Europe 16 41
Pacific Asia 12 40
USA 11 39
Eastern Europe 5 33
Latin America 5 37
Old Commonwealth 5 45

Table 13:

Frankfurt .52
Hong Kong .46 .57
London .43 .37 .50
Los Angeles .42 .35 .24 .34
Milan .35 .58 .37 .42 .06
New York .43 .21 .46 .70 .52 .26
Paris .55 .64 .48 .58 .20 .53 .25
Singapore .24 .50 .79 .58 .20 .42 .33 .46
Tokyo .51 .63 .67 .57 .10 .59 .47 .57 .64

Table 14:

LINKAGE                        LINKAGE TO:
Chicago -- 89 89 100 91 79 100 89 83 100
Frankfurt 67 -- 93 100 72 87 100 95 94 95
Hong Kong 60 82 -- 100 80 80 100 85 92 90
London 59 77 87 -- 78 78 98 83 83 86
Los Angeles 67 73 89 100 -- 70 97 84 81 89
Milan 59 88 93 100 67 -- 100 88 91 93
New York 59 77 87 98 77 77 -- 79 83 85
Paris 64 85 90 100 80 81 97 -- 90 90
Singapore 60 87 98 100 78 83 100 92 -- 95
Tokyo 64 84 93 100 83 81 100 87 88 --


Figure 1: The GaWC inventory of world cities

Figure 1

Figure 2: GaWC pan-regions in global service provision

Figure 2

Figure 3: Overall frequency distribution of firms in cities

Figure 3

Figure 4: Frequency distribution of firms in cities by sectors

Figure 4

Figure 5: Weighted scores of firms in cities by sectors

Figure 5

Figure 6: The GaWC index of London's relations

Figure 6

Figure 7: Correlations between alpha world cities

Figure 7

Figure 8: Vectors showing relations between alpha world cities

Figure 8