GaWC Project 26

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Globalization Beyond Moscow: An Audit of Chelyabinsk’s External Relations

Funded by: Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical University (2002)

Researchers: Leonid Nikitin, Alexander Romashov and Irina Tolkunova (Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical University)



This pilot project is an attempt to contribute to geographical broadening of globalization studies. Present-day Russia is a vast arena of combined post-Soviet transformations and integration tendencies. Certainly, it is best seen in Moscow (beta world city) and St Petersburg (minimal evidence of world city formation – according to the GaWC) (Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999). Nevertheless, it is worth-wile to consider the way in which globalization works in other cities and regions of the country. Making an initial step in this direction we focus our efforts on a single city, namely Chelyabinsk.

There are several reasons for such choice. Although not so enormous as Moscow or St Petersburg, Chelyabinsk is large and prominent city with 1,15 million of inhabitants (or more than 1,6 million in the whole of agglomeration). Being the fourth or fifth largest industrial centre in Russia, Chelyabinsk seems typical in many ways. Firstly, it is interesting as a Soviet heavy industrial giant in the past and, secondly, as an example of market-style and commercial changes during the post-Soviet period. Additionally, there are some geographical peculiarities and advantages that play increasingly important role in the local economy. As situated on the boundary between Europe and Asia Chelyabinsk is much closer to Moscow than Siberian cities are; on the other hand it is a convenient transport gateway to Central Asia and Far East. So this city with its various manufacturing and rather developed financial service as well as transport linkages and other forms of infrastructure can be selected as an object of this pilot study.

Methods and Data Sources

During the last 15 years Russia’s economy and social life has changed very rapidly and profoundly; so we must start from historical investigation that shows some peculiarities of the city’s economy during pre-Soviet, Soviet and post-Soviet periods.

The present situation can be most effectively depicted if we analyse local economy successively, sector after sector, and after that – local economy as a whole. The range of sectors embraces main industries (separately), banks, insurance, accountancy, transportation, telecommunications, labour market, humanitarian and scientific contacts. In each case we must reveal the most typical transnational connections either direct or indirect ones. It could be a point of ownership, orientation to certain exchanges, membership in international associations, traditional export directions, etc. Like in most of the GaWC projects advanced producer services are the core of this investigation. It is necessary, for example, to consider correspondence linkages of Chelyabinsk-located banks as a mechanism of connection to the inter-city global network. Location strategies in Russian financial sector are also among the themes of prime research interest.

The most valuable and important sources of information include companies’ web sites, press releases, bulletins and published balance sheets alongside with rating lists and many other kinds of information derived from business periodicals. Such information must be compared and verified in every case when it is possible.

Conclusive Comments

We intend to give evident and detailed description of various external connections. It must include outer influences on Chelyabinsk’s economy as well as city’s own re-transmitting functions and influence on neighbouring territories. This pilot project is regarded as an initial step to more wide studies of inter-city connections in Russia and CIS countries; such studies could enable future use of matrices analyses and accurate measurement as well as some original methods that are currently being elaborated by the researchers.


Beaverstock J.V., Smith R.G. and Taylor P.J. (1999). ‘A Roster of World Cities’. Cities, 16 (6), (1999), 445-458.

Eliseyev E.A. (1999). A City of Million Inhabitants: Breakthrough to the 21st Century. Chelyabinsk (in Russian).

Nikitin L.V. (2002). ‘An Evolution of Russia – WTO Relations: Views from Russia and Western World’. Research Papers of the Magnitogorsk State University (in Russian).

Romashov A.V. (2002) ‘Flexibilization of Labour Market: Russian and Foreign Experience’. Research Papers of the Magnitogorsk State University (in Russian).

For results of this project, see GaWC Research Bulletin 90.