Creative city networks (CCNs) have become an increasingly widespread phenomenon since the early 1990s. Despite the fact that approximately eleven per cent of all city networks which operate on a global scale are thematically based on the cultural and creative industries, CCNs comprise a considerably under-researched topic. Through a comparative approach to two key CCNs – namely, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) and Culture 21 – this thesis seeks to examine the local outcomes and uses of the two CCNs, and how these relate to their respective governance strategies. The network governance paradigm of top-down (UCCN) and bottom-up (Culture 21) is employed as a starting point from which to consider CCNs’ modus operandi and corresponding local impact. Through extensive secondary data analysis and eighteen semi-structured qualitative interviews, five urban case studies are used in this thesis. These are: Barcelona and Galway, as members of both CCNs; Berlin and Glasgow, as UCCN members; and Swansea, a member of Culture 21. A number of results are yielded by this study. First, it is shown that CCNs are used by member cities in myriad ways, many of which generate public value for a city’s cultural sector. For example, cities may harness CCN membership to boost the visibility and legitimacy of a particular cultural industry, to provide an international platform for local creative talent, or to enhance inter-urban networking. By outlining such uses, this thesis disproves the widespread notion that CCNs’ main value lies in their potential for city branding. A second key finding of this research is that a correlation exists between the governance strategies of CCNs and their local outcomes. It is shown that UCCN’s top-down approach to network governance creates less patent benefits for the grassroots cultural scene of member cities, while the bottom-up approach of Culture 21 is more successful in reaching grassroots level, generating more sustainable and tangible outcomes for cultural stakeholders in member cities. However, another notable research result is the importance of intermediary structures in determining cities’ use of CCN membership and whether any trickle-down effect occurs. Ultimately, this thesis highlights the relevance of CCNs in today’s global system of cities, and aims to generate some discourse on this under-researched subject. It is recommended that further in-depth study of CCNs, their governance, geography and local outcomes be conducted.

global markets, local creativities, glocal, Creative city network, creative city, city network, inter-urban, cultural and creative industries, network governance strategies, local dynamics.
J. Euwe
Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL)
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

L. Sage. (2019, June 28). A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF CREATIVE CITY NETWORKS AND THEIR LOCAL DYNAMICS. Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL). Retrieved from