The “Structural Change of the European City System” project (SCECS) deals with economic globalization and the German city system as a part of the European urban system. The analysis is positioned in the context of the theory of growth poles extended by the theory of chaos-oriented systems theory. This theoretical extension was carried out, because networks and complexity are determinants of the intensity of diffusion of growth processes causing the international quantity of growth stimulating poles. The regression analyses shows that structural change finds expression in concentration patterns that are explained within the context of location theory. Thus location advantages are parameters of competition realized by cities in international rivalry.
For this reason the SCECS-catalogue of indicators was developed. In the context of the proposed hypotheses, it comprises an abundance of indicators concerning urban functions, e. g. public, business, and innovation functions. Both the extent of the openness of a city, i. e. its international orientation and its interchanging integration (networks) are particularly relevant. In addition, in view of the postulated relevancy of enterprises as motor entities urging on economic growth, the international integration of resident firms is also taken into consideration by direct investments. The SCECS-model emphasises the role of cities as “innovation incubators”, because current globalization processes are characterised by the international competition of innovations.
Therefore, in addition to classical agglomeration advantages like infrastructure, particular indicators of the “innovation functions” of cities as places of the production of knowledge are developed: R&D-transfer centres, qualification, enterprises in lines of business with high R&D-intensity etc., have strong expressiveness. The indicators of the “public functions” relate to the ability of a city to offer public goods (“infrastructure”), and contribute to the assessment of the local capacity to act (“local finance”). In addition to local willingness to cooperate, the degree of immunisation capability against structural changes represented by indicators of “administrative functions” is relevant.