Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Global Power City Index 2010

Last month Wisconsin Real Estate, including a small group of our real estate MBA students, attended the Urban Land Institute's fall meeting in Washington, DC. I noticed recently that ULI has posted all of the presentations from the meeting online. It's a great way to go back and review sessions, catch up on ones you may have missed or even just get the benefit of the content if you weren't able to attend the show. With that as inspiration, I thought this would be a good time to share the viewpoints of one of our students who attended the meeting.

Second-year MBA Kan Zuo attended the “Global Power City Index -2010” session featuring the latest version of the Global Power City Index (GPCI) issued annually by the Institute for Urban Strategies at the Mori Memorial Foundation in Tokyo. His write-up follows:

This session in particular caught my attention because, as background, I've observed an interesting phenomenon in my native China along with its rapid economic development. Everyone in China is aware that their respective cities have changed much over the past several years, but they underestimate the development of other cities. All kinds of attempts to rank Chinese cities came about, and people sometimes fight fiercely when their cities are ranked lower than they expected.

The “Global Power City Index-2010” attempts to rank cities worldwide. It evaluated several indicators and calculated a combined score for each city. In its ranking, New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo were ranked from number one to number four respectively. The report on the research can be found here.

However, one of the difficulties in ranking cities is that cities are defined somewhat differently by different people. For example, in comparing Tokyo to U.S. cities, it is unclear whether Tokyo Metropolis (Tokyo-to) or the city of Tokyo (Tokyo-shi) should be considered. Creating a unified international definition of “city” is no easy task. This issue, if not handled well, could certainly weaken the value of any city ranking system.

It’s difficult to assess the value of such research and to interpret what the results mean. Even if we limit discussion to the “economy” indicator, the top ranked cities are all largest cities; does this mean these top ranked cities necessarily hold the best investment and employment opportunities? From our real world experiences, we can hardly conclude that this is the case. That being said, the presenters mentioned that the original motive of the research was to find out what features Japanese cities are lacking and make improvements accordingly. From that point of view, I would say that the research is a reasonable and worthwhile endeavor.

Kan Zuo is a second year MBA student in the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. Originally from China, he completed his undergraduate education at Beloit College in 2006 with a double major in Economics and Management and International Relations. As an undergraduate, he interned with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. In his first year he participated in our on-going blog series Meet Our Current Students. You can read previous posts in the series here.

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