Ranked Top 10: Typology and Quality of City Rankings

By Gudrun Haindlmaier.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A multiplicity of city rankings can be found both on a national and on an international level. These ranking show up with considerable differences in form and content, but they have one aspect in common: again and again they become topic of press releases and subject to the public discussion, urban politics and other key players.
This paper discusses a selected number of city rankings and identifies different types of city rankings. Thereby, the number and features of the indicators used in these rankings as well as their methods of sequencing will be analysed systematically. Furthermore, the authors and sponsors of these rankings will be examined in order the reveal the “political” dimension of city rankings. The sample of indicators and the complexity of the ranking approach itself constitute the base for a quality assessment of city rankings discussed within this paper.
As a consequence of significant economic, social and technological changes over the last decades cities and regions are facing growing competition and a need for improving their competitiveness. From this follows that cities face a need for positioning themselves in the international or national urban system. The comparison of cities can be an important guide for the cities to judge their strengths and weaknesses and to define their goals and strategies for future development. However, there is some evidence that the discussion of city rankings is mainly concentrated on the final ranks totally neglecting the methods and indicators used. Therefore, this paper deals with dimensions and indicators used in different types of city rankings and questions whether social, or, for example, environmental and cultural indicators are used besides the “standard” economic benchmarks. Which dimensions or indicators should be taken into account for a “social” city ranking of high quality?

Keywords: City Ranking, Indicators, Typology, Positioning of Cities

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 10, pp.29-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.342MB).

Gudrun Haindlmaier

Assistant Professor, Centre of Regional Science, Department of Spatial Development, Infrastructure and Environmental Planning, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria

Gudrun HAINDL, sociologist and geographer (with focus on spatial planning), is assistant professor and doctoral student at the Centre of Regional Science, University of Technology in Vienna. Her main research interests are within the fields of urban and metropolitan research, demography, interdisciplinary research and traffic sociology.

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