PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (6): 1053-1067.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.06.009

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A review of urban employment polycentricity research

WANG Hui1,2(), YUAN Feng1,*()   

  1. 1. Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Key Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2021-10-04 Revised:2022-02-06 Online:2022-06-28 Published:2022-08-28
  • Contact: YUAN Feng;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42171189)


Employment distribution is one of the key components of urban structure. Employment polycentricity is currently becoming a global phenomenon, leading the paradigm change of urban structure research around the world. However, this topic is covered by relatively few studies in China. Therefore, by browsing a large number of relevant publications, this article presented its research progress in order to provide a reference for studies on employment polycentricity in China. First, this article briefly introduced the geographical patterns and process of urban employment concentration/decentralization and polycentricity, focusing on reviewing the current consensus and debates, as well as dynamics and growth trends of employment centers. Second, it traced the mechanism of urban employment decentralization and its evolving polycentric patterns from different theoretical perspectives, with particular attention to the predominant forces on the formation of polycentricity through the lens of spatial political economy, especially interactions between the institutional factors of urban planning and governance and the market. Finally, the article summarized the consequences of employment polycentricity from two aspects: the impact on urban spatial features and on urban commuting. The evolution of urban employment polycentricity provides a unique view for us to understand the growth logic of urban space, which is significant for the policy making of urban transformation and spatial reconstruction of Chinese cities.

Key words: employment polycentricity, urban spatial structure, process and patterns, spatial outcomes