World City Studies Institute

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The World City Studies Institute is a think tank that focuses on study of world cities, a concept at the juncture of globalisation and urbanisation. Its headquarters are in Kesselbourg City, Kesselbourg, but it operates through various centres around the world. It is notable for popularising the term "world city", and its regularly published World Cities Index is the most widely received ranking of its type. It was founded in 1994 by a consortium of research groups and researchers, and despite some advocacy and market research, its main activity is still academic research. Research funding comes from a wide variety of sources, including governments, donations, institutions of higher learning, and companies.


In the late 20th century, academics identified emerging phenomena such as financialisation, deindustrialisation and the creative economy. Difficult matters such as the increasingly apparent failure of post-colonial economies to close the gap with their former colonisers and the rise of new models of urbanity in the Global South posed questions for an increasingly interdisciplinary international academia. Researchers with socialist bent had long criticised the centralisation and monopolisation which occurred under capitalism, as well as the pervasively global nature of imperialism, but in the Global North, increasing income inequality, the renewed connectivity produced by the Information Revolution, and novel economic problems such as stagflation encouraged collaboration.

The fruits of this collaboration included theories that posited a world economic system, which, more globalised than ever before, could no longer be easily divided in a meaningful way. The dominance of the services sector (along with its characteristics), combined with advances in information technology, meant that unprecedented concentration of both labour and capital in a few global capitals could occur. Manufacturing-based industrialism, the historical "bottleneck" in the world economy, had become widespread; now, compounded by historical advantages dating back to colonialism proper, creative industries and producer services, enabled by labour flexibility, long-term political openness and stability and abundant capital, were the new economic engines of the Global North.

While this was not strictly an urban phenomenon, the exceptional concentration of productive forces in very small areas and the resulting changes to host regions was considered a key feature. The World City Studies Institute was founded in early 1994 with a view specifically to looking at this aspect, with researchers from a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. From early on, there were criticisms that the institute was emphasising the more superficial and less fundamental aspects of the global system; it was, however, firmly rooted in an urban geography perspective, and it avoided political controversy, despite internal disagreements, with its academic stature and funding base growing quickly. In more recent times, some have accused the institute of dampening its critiques as so not to lose funding, and of abandoning its roots in radically envisioning cities in wider contexts.


While the World City Studies Institute works with many people and groups around the world, it has only a handful of centres around the world, with an eye to coverage of the phenomenon of world cities comprehensively. Funding is often allocated to specific centres by funding sources because of their fairly substantially independent operation. The official headquarters the World City Studies Centre in Kesselbourg. The centres are:


The World City Studies Institute, via its centres, conducts a variety of projects and studies around the world. One such is its work in documenting and assisting the planning of the development of Instead, the main settlement on the continent of Glacia; its particular demographics, natural conditions and novelty make it a unique subject.

World Cities Index

The World City Studies Institute regularly publishes the World Cities Index, a ranking of cities in the world of their importance to the global economic, political, cultural, etc. system. One way of rephrasing the criteria is to ask "how great would the disruption be to the current world system if this city disappeared?" This index is the most well-known of the institute's publications, and it is currently published annually, though this is subject to frequent change, depending on circumstances. Consideration is given to both urban area and metropolitan city definitions.

The methodology of the World Cities Index team is to evaluate the city's significance holistically, but the criteria are often divided into general categories, such as manufacturing, technology, law or logistics. Data that have been taken into consideration include whether the city is a capital of a country or some smaller or larger jurisdiction, whether it plays host to important organisations such as corporations or intergovernmental groupings, its population, its physical size, its relationship to proximate cities, its security, and its status as a centre of finance, the arts, manufacturing, news media, science, tourism, business management, insurance, legal services, or other such high-value industries.

Apart from general interest, the World Cities Index is used and considered in a variety of ways, from as a metric of the success of urban policy, to evaluating allocation of resources and personnel by organisations to achieve the greatest interconnection, to analysing global geopolitics as it resides in cities. However, it is not prescriptive by nature, and criticisms levelled at it have included that it is too vague and general when it compounds all its different factors into a single list—that its simplicity and reputation precede it even as it is not intellectually substantial.

World Cities Index 2021

A map of the locations of the First-rate category cities according to the World Cities Index 2020

The World Cities Index was most recently published in 2021, its top two tiers being given here. There are 4 cities in the First-rate category, 51 in the Second-rate category, and 429 in the Third-rate category.