Secondary Yet Metropolitan? The Challenges of Metropolitan Integration for Second-Tier Cities

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    This paper discusses whether the areas where metropolitan integration can be beneficial for cities in general corresponds to the typical areas of disadvantage of many second-tier cities in Europe, and explores the implications of that convergence. Metropolitan integration entails functional, institutional and symbolic dimensions, whose potential advantages include exploiting the agglomeration benefits emerging from the metropolitan scale, efficiently deploying shared metropolitan resources, and acquiring political-institutional influence over higher-level policymaking. Research shows that many European second-tier cities face persistent disadvantages in comparison to first-tier cities in these areas, and this article contributes to the discussion of new strategies of second-tier city development by exploring the potential effect of metropolitan integration in overcoming these setbacks. We empirically assess the gains in demographic and functional mass experienced by second-tier cities by aggregating the metropolitan scale, and draw from various examples to illustrate their interest in increasing institutional and political capacity. Metropolitan region formation seems indeed a promising strategy for many second-tier cities, especially those embedded in large and dense urban territories, and located in countries with a dominant first-tier city. To mobilise this potential, the paper further discusses the planning and governance strategies that can best manage the opportunities and hurdles of a metropolitan integration process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages20
    JournalPlanning Theory & Practice
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Oct 2017


    • agglomeration benefits
    • European urban system
    • metropolitan integration
    • metropolitan regions
    • Second-tier cities


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