Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2015, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (3): 337-354.doi: 10.1007/s11442-015-1172-0

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A novel method for approximating intercity networks: An empirical comparison for validating the city networks in two Chinese city-regions

Miaoxi ZHAO1(), Kang WU2,*(), Xingjian LIU3, Derudder BEN4   

  1. 1. College of Architecture/State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, China
    2. College of Urban Economics and Public Management, Capital University of Economics and Business, Beijing 100070, China
    3. Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, 28223, USA
    4. Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent, B9000, Belgium
  • Received:2014-03-17 Accepted:2014-04-02 Online:2015-03-15 Published:2015-03-15
  • Contact: Kang WU;
  • About author:

    Author: Zhao Miaoxi (1979-), PhD and Associate Professor, national registered urban planner, specialized in urban and regional planning.

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.51478189;No.41401178;National Social Science Fund, 11&ZD154;State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science, No.2013KB20;Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, No.2013ZZ0022


A network perspective has increasingly become an organizational paradigm for understanding regional spatial structures. Based on a critical overview of existing empirical models for estimating intercity networks based on firm linkages, this study extends the recently proposed regional corporate city model algorithm by proposing a new method for approximating urban networks based on the locational strategies of firms. The new method considers both regional and hierarchical network features and avoids the information loss associated with the conversion from two-mode firm-city networks to one-mode city-city networks. In addition, networks estimated by using the method proposed herein are suitable when employing social network analysis. Finally, this method is empirically validated by examining intercity firm networks formed by advanced producer services firms in China’s two largest metropolitan areas, namely the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta. The presented empirical analysis suggests two main findings. First, in contrast to conventional methods (e.g., the interlocking city network model), our new method produces regional and hierarchical urban networks that more closely resemble reality. Second, the new method allows us to use social network analysis to assess betweenness and closeness centralities. However, regardless of the model applied, the validity of any method that measures urban networks depends on the soundness of its underlying assumptions about how network actors (firms, in our case) interact.

Key words: city network, network measurement, advanced producer service, Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta