PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (1): 78-90.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.01.008

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Spatial structure of urban networks in China based on the perspective of cultural industry enterprise networks

ZHANG Xu, YU Fangzheng, XU Liangjia   

  1. School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China
  • Received:2019-01-21 Revised:2019-05-30 Online:2020-01-28 Published:2020-03-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41601163)


In recent years, urban networks have become a focus of research in geography, urban studies, and other related disciplines. While previous research has examined the urban networks in China from different perspectives, the networks generated by cultural industries have remained a largely unexplored area. This article aims to fill this gap by presenting a comprehensive analysis of the spatial structures of the cultural industry-generated urban networks in China's mainland and compares the disparities between these networks and the urban networks created by other types of economic activities. Data of the headquarter-affiliation connections of 230 NEEQ (National Equities Exchange and Quotations)-listed cultural firms in 2017 were collected and analyzed using social network analysis method. In addition, the article also explores the economic and social factors that shape the formation of the spatial patterns of China's cultural industry urban networks drawing on the method of multiple linear regression (MLR). The outcomes reveal that: First, shaped by both market mechanisms and the interventions of local governments, the distribution of the NEEQ-listed cultural firms demonstrates a geographically dispersive, but quantitatively concentrated pattern in China. The spatial structure of the cultural industry urban networks is highly uneven, with most inter-city connections concentrated in the eastern part of the country. The cultural industry urban networks do not exhibit the typical diamond-shaped structure that has been observed in many other urban networks in China. Second, the core nodes of the cultural industry urban networks are mainly economically advanced metropolises in the eastern and central areas, as well as a few minor cities that possess some special local assets, including large film and television studios, unque natural or humanistic environment, and preferential tax policies. Most cities are receivers instead of exporters of cultural industry functions. Third, the expansion of the cultural industry urban networks is mainly between the core nodes of different hierarchies instead of between geographically proximate cities. The contribution of local (intra-urban) networks to the formation of intra-firm relationships of cultural industries is weaker than that of trans-local networks, which indicates that, compared with the advantages of geographical proximity, the complementarity of market or resources is the primary factor considered by cultural firms during their expansion. Fourth, the urban networks of different subsets of cultural industries have rather diverse spatial structures, which reflect the varied market demands and development conditions of different cultural industry activities. Fifth, according to the outcome of MLR analysis, the function of local governments and urban industrial structure are two important factors that shape the location strategy of cultural firms and the pattern of cultural industry urban networks in China, whereas the impacts of other economic and social factors are not significant. The article enriches our understanding of the spatial organization of cultural industries and the diversity of modern urban networks. It also sheds light on cultural industry development policies in the Chinese context.

Key words: cultural industries, urban network, firm network, industrial cluster, China