GaWC Project 29

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A Connections Audit of the Greater Washington Region

A pilot project funded by the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech (2002-2003)

Researchers: Peter Taylor, Rob Lang and Jennifer LeFurgy

Research Assistant: Troy Gravitt

This is a very basic scooping study in which we plan to develop a robust methodology for carrying out a city connections audit.

The basic premise is that the success of a city is dependent on the quantity and quality of its connections with other cities.

A connections audit is an empirical assessment of the external connections of a city, a geographical analysis of a city’s position within the world city network

The laboratory city for this project is the greater Washington area. Partly chosen for convenience, Washington is interesting because its economic prowess within the world city network is frequently under-estimated.

The connections studied are business and financial linkages as indicated by their office networks. These advanced producer services are used because they explicitly locate in cities to dispense their services at a scale greater than a single city region.

There will be four stages to the research:

  1. selection of sectors and firms (the Book of Lists will be the prime source);
  2. recording the offices of Washington-located firms in other cities (websites will be the prime sources);
  3. evaluation the importance of offices within a firm’s network (using websites again);
  4. consider how the information can be marshaled to provide an audit that can be easily understood, easily replicated, and with practical relevance.

To lessen the potential number of firms to be considered, the audit will not include local links. To be considered a firm will need to have at least one office outside Washington’s core region (DC, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia).

The output of the research will be twofold:

  1. an initial audit of Washington city region;
  2. a set of tools – sources, rules for using sources, methods of collecting information, ways of putting the audit together – that can be used auditing cities. The basic purpose is comparative, either by tracing changing connections of one city (i.e an annual audit report) or by seeing how a city measures up to other cities.