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Urban Functional Specialisation and the Interplay between Firm’s Communication Costs

  • G. F. Gori
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    This paper focuses on the functional specialisation of a system of cities, with particular attention to the role and the formation process of secondary business centers. At the european level, the latters can be identified in the large number of regional capitals, and properly defined as cities hosting both headquarters of multi-location firms and providers of standard non-tradable business services (SBS). I present a theoretical model in which the changes in urban system’s degree of functional specialisation are linked to (i) firms’ organisational choices, since firms decide whether splitting into headquarter and production plant or remaining integrated in a single establishment and to (ii) firms’ location decision with regards to the proximity with the tradable advanced business services providers. I model two types of communication costs, one between headquarters and advanced tradable business services providers (ABS) and one between headquarters and production plants. The interplay between the two types of communication costs is shown to have effects on the transition process from an “integrated” urban system where each city hosts every different functions to a “functionally specialised” urban system where each city is either a primary business center (hosting ABS), a secondary business centers (SBS) or a pure manufacturing city and all this city-types coexist in equilibrium. In particular, I find that maximum functional specialisation of the urban system turns out to be feasible only if firms face a very high share of the total costs represented by their heaquarter spending.

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    File URL: http://www2.dse.unibo.it/wp/WP877.pdf
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    Paper provided by Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna in its series Working Papers with number wp877.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp877
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    1. Henderson, Vernon & Becker, Randy, 2000. "Political Economy of City Sizes and Formation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 453-484, November.
    2. Kristin Aarland & James C. Davis & J. Vernon Henderson & Yukako Ono, 2007. "Spatial organization of firms: the decision to split production and administration," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(2), pages 480-494, 06.
    3. Ono, Yukako, 2007. "Market thickness and outsourcing services," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 220-238, March.
    4. Jean Cavailhes & Carl Gaigne & Jacques-Rrancois Thisse, 2006. "Trade and the structure of cities," KIER Working Papers 623, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    5. David Audretsch & Oliver Falck & Stephan Heblich, 2011. "Who’s got the aces up his sleeve? Functional specialization of cities and entrepreneurship," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 621-636, June.
    6. Jean Cavailhes & Carl Gaigné & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jean-François Thisse, 2012. "Trade and the structure of cities," Working Papers 170328, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
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