IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Megacities Vs Global Cities: Development and Institutions


  • Jean-Marie Huriot


  • Lise Bourdeau-Lepage



In a preceding paper (Louvain Economic Review), we define city globalization as the process by which a city gains the ability to coordinate complex economic activities at a global scale. The resulting “global cities†carry out the functions of design, decision and control in the global economy. However, the logic of city globalization is not universal. It does not apply equally to different regions in the world. A large part of the less developed countries (LDCs) remains at the margin, despite the dramatic growth of its major cities, especially the “large urban agglomerations†and the “megacities†as defined by the United Nations. In 2003, 15 of the world’s 20 megacities were located in LDCs. We stress the differentiation of the city globalization process and the possible divergence between city size and city globalization, i.e. between global cities and mega-cities. We propose some avenues for explaining this divergence. We use both statistical and theoretical arguments based on the economic theory of agglomeration (Fujita and Thisse), the theory of world cities (Friedman, Sassen, Taylor and GaWC) and the theory of institutions (North). In a large part of the literature, it is considered that a large city can more probably become a global city than a smaller one, because city size favors the diversity of activities, a high level of human capital, of communication equipments, and ability to benefit from increasing returns. However, this logic is not universal. City size is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of city globalization. It appears that the level of development of the country gives only a partial explanation of the divergence. The ability to coordinate complex activities at a global scale, which characterize global cities, depends closely on the nature and the quality of institutions. The bad quality of governance, the low level of social connectivity (Sassen), the high level of corruption, are important obstacles to city globalization in LDCs. The existence of an important informal sector can explain that cities in LDCs beyond the size compatible with their economic resources and with their ability to generate externalities favorable to city globalization

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Marie Huriot & Lise Bourdeau-Lepage, 2006. "Megacities Vs Global Cities: Development and Institutions," ERSA conference papers ersa06p894, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa06p894

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Krugman, Paul & Elizondo, Raul Livas, 1996. "Trade policy and the Third World metropolis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 137-150, April.
    2. Henderson, J V, 1974. "The Sizes and Types of Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 640-656, September.
    3. Masahisa Fujita & Paul Krugman & Anthony J. Venables, 2001. "The Spatial Economy: Cities, Regions, and International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262561476, January.
    4. Lise Bourdeau-Lepage, 2005. "Advanced Services and Regional Integration. The Case of the CEECs," Post-Print halshs-00008696, HAL.
    5. Fujita,Masahisa & Thisse,Jacques-François, 2013. "Economics of Agglomeration," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107001411, April.
    6. Henderson, Vernon & Mitra, Arindam, 1996. "The new urban landscape: Developers and edge cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 613-643, December.
    7. P.J. Taylor & G. Catalano & D.R.F. Walker, 2002. "Measurement of the World City Network," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 39(13), pages 2367-2376, December.
    8. Puga, Diego, 1996. "Urbanisation patterns: European vs less developed countries," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20656, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 195-227.
    10. Huriot,Jean-Marie & Thisse,Jacques-François (ed.), 2000. "Economics of Cities," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521641906.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Silvio M. Brondoni, 2011. "Ouverture de 'Global Cities and Knowledge Management - 2'," Symphonya. Emerging Issues in Management, University of Milano-Bicocca, issue 2 Global , pages 1-5.
    2. Riccardo Cappellin & Silvio M. Brondoni, 2011. "Ouverture de 'Global Cities and Knowledge Management - 1'," Symphonya. Emerging Issues in Management, University of Milano-Bicocca, issue 1 Global .

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa06p894. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.