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The External Relations of Nordic Cities: A New Geography in the Making?

The rise of the knowledge economy and the application of new technologies have played central roles in the increased focus on cities, both in policy terms and in spatial research over the past three decades. Globally, a number of cities are considered as nodal points in the emergence and the intersection of different kinds of 'flows', such as capital, commodities, knowledge and information, labour, tourism and cultural symbols. These flows are travelling along infrastructure routes such as roads, railways, airlines and, increasingly, telecommunication linkages. In this light, the emerging network of flows between cities can be useful in learning more about how cities function in economic, social and cultural terms. In addition, it can also help us to imagine a geography of cities that is not only based on distances and place-based indicators such as the number of inhabitants, GDP or infrastructural endowment, but rather on the 'inter-connectivity' of cities, which we will take a closer look at in this issue of Nordregio News.

Considering this, it is not surprising that we can recognise a growing demand for handy information about the relative global reach of a select number of cities. However, at closer inspection we need to realise that to study such flows empirically, and to give robust indications about the external relations of the city at hand, is a challenging task.

In this issue we follow the increasing interest in the external relations of cities in an increasingly globalised world. In the first article The Elusive Question of Global Cities and Cities in Networks, Brita Hermelin from the University of Linköping, discusses the conceptual and theoretical foundations and methodological underpinnings of the major scientific achievements in this direction. She also reflects on current findings from a Nordic perspective as well as their explanatory power.

The second article, Mapping Global Cities and Business Networks from a Nordic Perspective, by Lukas Smas, presents some results from a recent Nordregio-study in which the external relations of four Nordic capital regions have been analysed in national, Norden, European and global contexts. He also draws particular attention to some policy implications, his most notable claim is to focus much more on the city's role and function in such inter-city networks rather than to focus primarily on its place-based assets.

Fredrik Johansson from the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce argues in the final article Overcoming Distance Through Attractiveness that the concept of distance is more and more dispensable for the formulation of regional development strategies. Rather, it is important to identify opportunities to strengthen the region's attractiveness and to deal with the Stockholm's growth potential in a smart manner.

Peter Schmitt

Senior Research Fellow

and the Editorial Board

Back to Nordregio News Issue 4, 2012