Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2022, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (3): 517-536.doi: 10.1007/s11442-022-1959-8

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial evolution and growth mechanism of urban networks in western China: A multi-scale perspective

YANG Liangjie1(), WANG Jing1, YANG Yongchun2   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China
    2. School of Resources and Environmental, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730070, China
  • Received:2021-05-25 Accepted:2021-11-17 Online:2022-03-25 Published:2022-05-25
  • About author:Yang Liangjie (1977-), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in urban ecology and city networks research. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41501176);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41961030)


Globalization and informatization promote the evolution of urban spatial organization from a hierarchical structure mode to a network structure mode, forming a complex network system. This study considers the coupling of “space of flows” and “spaces of places” as the core and “embeddedness” as the link and a relevant theoretical basis; then we construct a conceptual model of urban networks and explore the internal logic of enterprise networks and city networks. Using the interlocking-affiliate network model and data from China’s top 500 listed companies, this study constructs a directed multi-valued relational matrix between cities in western China from 2005 to 2015. Using social network analysis and the multiple regression of quadratic assignment program model (MRQAP), this study adopts a “top-down” research perspective to analyze the spatio-temporal evolution and growth mechanism of the city network in western China from three nested spatial scales: large regions, intercity agglomerations, and intracity agglomerations. The results show the following: (1) Under the large regional scale, the city network has good symmetry, obvious characteristics of hierarchical diffusion, neighborhood diffusion, and cross-administrative regional connection, presenting the “core-periphery” structural pattern. (2) The network of intercity agglomerations has the characteristics of centralization, stratification, and geographical proximity. (3) The internal network of each urban agglomeration presents a variety of network structure modes, such as dual-core, single-core, and multicore modes. (4) Administrative subordination and economic system proximity have a significant positive impact on the city network in western China. The differences in internet convenience, investment in science and technology, average time distance, and economic development have negative effects on the growth and development of city networks. (5) The preferential attachment is the internal driving force of the city network development.

Key words: interlocking-affiliate network model, urban agglomerations, western China, centrality, multiple regression of quadratic assignment program (MRQAP)