Central flow theory: comparative connectivities in the world-city network

Ben Derudder, Peter Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the position of the 'interlocking network model' for studying world-city networks in the context of an increasingly diverse literature on cities in globalization. The argument builds on the position that although world-city network analysis deals with a very specific process both functionally and temporally, it can nonetheless be interpreted as a particular example of a generic practice of inter-city relations. Conceptually, this is achieved through discussions about the notion of 'central flow theory' and the position of the model in quantitative research on city networks. Empirically, this is achieved through a comparison of connectivities of cities created by producer services firms, non-governmental organizations, maritime-producer services firms and global media firms. These multiple analyses represent a decomposition of the current global expression of central flow theory, and examining parallels and differences between these networks allows the stress testing of the model’s more generic potential for assessing the increased salience of flows for cities across the world economy. Drawing on the observation that various cities are placed 'on and off the map' in relation to their specific interlocking to the world economy, we engage with two important critiques of the relevance of this research for understanding cities in globalization, i.e., the post-colonial critique formulated by Jennifer Robinson in 2002 and a denunciation for missing out the state by Göran Therborn in 2011. The paper concludes with a discussion of the ways in which our conceptual modelling and results might begin to be theoretically integrated into a wider theoretical framework centred on 'central flow theory'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1040
JournalRegional Studies
Issue number8
Early online date21 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2018


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