Project

Back to overview

Urban prosperity beyond the metropolis: Analyzing small and medium-sized towns in Switzerland

English title Urban prosperity beyond the metropolis: Analyzing small and medium-sized towns in Switzerland
Applicant Mayer Heike
Number 159324
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Geographisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.09.2015 - 31.12.2019
Approved amount 439'891.00
Show all

All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Political science

Keywords (6)

Small and medium-sized towns; Polycentric development; Urban and regional development; Swiss urban system; Urban policy; Metropolization

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Klein- und mittelgrosse Städte (SMTs) stehen oft im Schatten der Metropolitanräume und finden sowohl in der Wissenschaft wie auch in der Politik wenig Beachtung. Mit diesem Projekt werden die wirtschaftliche und auch politische Bedeutung der SMTs in der Schweiz aufgezeigt.
Lay summary

Klein- und mittelgrosse Städte (SMTs) haben bisher keine bedeutende Rolle in der Wissenschaft und Politik gespielt. Wie sich jedoch aus Ergebnissen einer aktuellen Studie erkennen lässt, weisen SMTs in den EU-15 Staaten ein grösseres wirtschaftliches Wachstum seit 2001 auf als Grossstädte (Dijkstra, Garcilazo, & McCann, 2013). Aus diesen Zahlen lässt sich schliessen, dass SMTs in Zukunft an Bedeutung gewinnen können. Folglich ist es nötig, die Eigenheiten und den wirtschaftlichen Beitrag dieses Städtetyps besser zu verstehen. Das primäre Ziel diese Projektes ist es daher sozioökonomische Aspekte, die spezifischen Rollen und Funktionen von SMTS zu ergründen sowie die politische Strategien, die SMTs wählen, um ihre Position zu stärken, auf ihre Wirksamkeit hin zu untersuchen. Das Entwicklungspotenzial von SMTs in der Schweiz wird aus einer wirtschaftsgeographischen und politikwissenschaftlichen Perspektive untersucht. 

Das Projekt integriert wirtschaftsgeographische sowie politikwissenschaftliche Aspekte der SMTs und leistet damit einen Beitrag zu den aufkommenden wissenschaftlichen und politischen Debatten über die Funktion und Rolle von SMTs. Durch die Analyse der Entwicklungspotenziale der Schweizer SMTs und der Wirkung ihrer Positionierungsstrategien können Förderpolitiken angepasst werden. 

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.09.2015

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Small and medium-sized towns (SMTs) have received little attention from both scholars and practitioners in urban and regional development. This research project aims to analyze the economic and political role of SMTs in Switzerland.
Lay summary

Scholars and practitioners have mostly neglected the role of SMTs in the context of spatial development. Yet, recent research demonstrates that for the EU15-nations, small and medium-sized towns have shown higher economic growth rates than the largest cities particularly since 2001 (Dijkstra, Garcilazo, & McCann, 2013). As a result, SMTs may become more important in the future. Consequently, it is necessary to gain more knowledge and information about the characteristics and economic contributions of this type of city. Thus, the main goal of this project is to shed light on socioeconomic aspects, specific roles and functions of SMTs in Switzerland as well as on the success of strategies Swiss SMTs employ to strengthen their position. The project examines the development potential of small and medium-sized towns (SMTs) in Switzerland from an economic geography and political science perspective.

The project integrates economic geography and political science perspectives of SMTs in order to contribute to the emerging scientific and political debates on the role and function of small and medium-sized towns. By outlining the development potential of SMTs in Switzerland and evaluating their locational strategies, current policies can be adapted.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.09.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
The influence of small town context on access to external knowledge
Meili Rahel (2019), The influence of small town context on access to external knowledge, in Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 31(9-10), 826-841.
Business centre or bedroom community? The development of employment in small and medium-sized towns
Kaufmann David, Wittwer Stefan (2019), Business centre or bedroom community? The development of employment in small and medium-sized towns, in Regional Studies, 53(10), 1483-1493.
Diverse diversities—Open innovation in small towns and rural areas
Meili Rahel, Shearmur Richard (2019), Diverse diversities—Open innovation in small towns and rural areas, in Growth and Change, 50(2), 492-514.
Small and medium-sized towns in Switzerland: economic heterogeneity, socioeconomic performance and linkages
Meili Rahel, Mayer Heike (2017), Small and medium-sized towns in Switzerland: economic heterogeneity, socioeconomic performance and linkages, in Erdkunde, 71(4), 313-332.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
David Bole, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts Anton Melik Geographical I Slovenia (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Michela Lazzeroni, University of Pisa, Italy Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Evert Meijers, Delft University Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Mark Pendras, University of Washington at Tacoma United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Loris Servillo, University of Turin Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Global Conference on Economic Geography Talk given at a conference Diverse diversities – Open innovation in small towns and rural areas 24.07.2018 Köln, Germany Meili Rahel;
RSA Annual Conference 2018 Talk given at a conference Diverse diversities – Open innovation in small towns and rural areas. 04.06.2018 Lugano, Switzerland Meili Rahel;
DRUID Academy Conference 2018 in Economics and Management of Innovation, Technology and Organizations Talk given at a conference How high-tech firms in small towns acquire non-local knowledge: The importance of firm and location characteristics. 17.01.2018 Odense, Denmark Meili Rahel;
CJRES 10th Anniversary Conference, ‘Globalisation in Crisis? The Urban and Regional Challenges of the Great Instability Conference’ Talk given at a conference High-tech firms in small towns. Organisational social capital and innovation capacity beyond core regions. 13.07.2017 Cambridge, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Meili Rahel;
RSA Annual Conference Talk given at a conference High-tech firms in small and medium-sized towns 05.06.2017 Dublin, Ireland Meili Rahel;
AAG Boston Talk given at a conference Small and medium-sized towns in Switzerland: Which factors lead to different economic characteristics of towns? 05.04.2017 Boston, United States of America Mayer Heike; Meili Rahel;
Young Economic Geographers Network (YEGN) Workshop on Regional Development, Innovation and Inequality Talk given at a conference Economic Typology of small and medium-sized towns in Switzerland. 16.08.2016 Bern, Switzerland Meili Rahel;
AAG 2016 Talk given at a conference Looking beyond metropolitan centres in Switzerland: An analysis of small and medium-sized towns 29.03.2016 San Francisco, United States of America Meili Rahel; Mayer Heike;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Standortentwicklung integrierter Gewerbeflächen», Institut für Städtebau und Wohnungswesen, München Talk 07.09.2018 Berlin, Germany Meili Rahel;
Ad-Hoc Arbeitskreis "Kleinstädte in Deutschland" Workshop 19.04.2018 Hannover, Germany Mayer Heike;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Kommentar "Meinung" Der Bund German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: radio, television Was macht kleine Städte attraktiv? SRF2 German-speaking Switzerland 2018

Abstract

Small and medium-sized towns have traditionally been neglected in the urban studies and regional development literature. Yet, recent research demonstrates that for the EU15-nations, small and medium-sized towns have shown higher economic growth rates than the largest cities particularly since 2001 (Dijkstra, Garcilazo, & McCann, 2013). Population and economic growth seem to have slowed down in the largest metropolitan regions in the developed European countries. These findings contradict the dominant scholarly and practitioner discourse about metropolitan regions, which has also influenced Swiss spatial planning and policymakers (Bundesamt für Raumentwicklung, 2008). The findings suggest a need to focus on small and medium-sized towns and to raise questions about their economic dynamics and the political strategies that may have influenced their development trajectories. Focusing on issues of urban prosperity in small and medium-sized towns will give us a better understanding of those types of urban areas that connect metropolitan and rural regions. The proposed project examines the development potential of small and medium-sized towns (SMTs) in Switzerland from an economic geography and political science perspective. The aim of the project is twofold: First, we want to generate scientific knowledge about SMTs, particularly regarding their economic structures and trajectories as well as their linkages to metropolitan regions. Second, we plan to identify economic and political strategies that influence development dynamics of SMTs and their respective success in relation to the metropolitan regions. Small and medium-sized towns are spatially distinct areas of economic activity that can select different strategies to define their relation to the metropolitan region: an SMT can either choose to be a distinct economic specialization independent of a nearby metropolitan region (autarky) or an economic structure that is heavily dependent on a larger metropolitan region (alignment). Hybrid forms are also possible. The proposed research aims at studying conditions under which either of these strategies lead to success.The empirical work is divided into three steps: First, we will analyze the Swiss urban system and identify small and medium-sized cities using cluster analysis methods. Second, we will conduct up to six case studies of selected SMTs that represent the groups we created. Third, we will conduct a comparative political economy analysis and generate insights into different development trajectories. The latter is important because the literature in urban and regional development has generally ignored smaller urban places. Yet, SMTs often follow substantially different economic and political paths and strategies than metropolitan regions (Knox & Mayer, 2009). An examination of SMTs is important given the importance of polycentric development as a spatial development goal at the European and at the Swiss national level. The project will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team of economic geographers and political scientists. The anticipated benefit of the project is both scientific and practical in that the project contributes to fundamental knowledge about SMTs and it informs political actors and policymakers at all levels about development strategies and their influence on welfare and prosperity in small and medium-sized towns.
-