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On the Relationship Between Centres and Small Towns in a City-Regional Context: Knowledge-Intensive Concentration and Specialisation in Germany

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Abstract

Small towns have become increasingly important to research in recent years. However, researchers have largely ignored both the reciprocal economic-functional linkages between large cities and small towns in agglomerations and the spatial patterns of concentration and specialisation of knowledge-economy activities. This article aims to respond to this gap in several ways. First, it analyses spatial concentration processes in the 50 large city regions of Germany, differentiated by knowledge bases (analytical, synthetic, symbolic). Second, it analyses and compares functional specialisation effects in both the large cities and the small towns of the large city regions. Here, the focus is on identifying the same directional tendency of specialisation and distribution in both types of cities, without presuming the large cities to be the trend-setting constant. The analyis uses labour market data from the federal employment agency. Consequently, decentralised concentration processes can be observed, especially in the southern German large city regions, where a focus on a particular knowledge base cannot be ascertained. The analysis shows the same specialisation or distribution patterns for half of all large city regions for both core cities and small towns, if all three knowledge bases are considered together. The paper concludes with an argument concerning possible further theoretical implications based on the notion that the interlinkages between small towns and large cities are reciprocal.

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Authors

Madeleine Wagner - Heidelberg University

How to Cite
Wagner, M. (2024). On the Relationship Between Centres and Small Towns in a City-Regional Context: Knowledge-Intensive Concentration and Specialisation in Germany. European Journal of Spatial Development, 21(2). https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.11387278