Beyond Agglomerations

Mapping externality fields and network externalities

Small and medium-sized European cities are performing increasingly well, even though conventional agglomeration theory suggests that the agglomeration benefits of large cities are the primary economic drivers in the world, steering urban and economic growth towards the largest cities and metropoles.

Citation network of publications, labelled according to the schools of thought in urban systems research (Peris et al., 2018).

To solve this discrepancy between theory and reality, this project aims to challenge and recast the geographical foundations of agglomeration theory. This project explores the hypothesis that small and medium-sized cities are able to ‘borrow size’ through being proximate to other cities and/or through being connected in networks with other cities. This means that urbanisation economies are not confined to individual agglomerations –as is the long-standing and unquestioned assumption. Rather, they transform spatially into ‘urban externality fields’ and/or ‘urban network externalities’. The project focuses particularly on the role of ICT in this transformation and on new ways of measuring networks of cities.


Funder: NWO - Netherlands Organisation for Scientific research
Programme: VIDI grant Vernieuwingsimpuls/ Innovational Research Scheme
Overall budget: € 906.898
Grant amount: € 800.000
Contribution to TU Delft: € 800.000
Grant number:  452-14-004
Role TU Delft:  Host institution (personal grant)
Project duration: November 2015 - November 2020
TU Delft researchers:                 Dr. Evert Meijers
Dr. Rodrigo Cardoso
Duco de Vos
Antoine Peris


Dr. Evert Meijers