With the economy at a low ebb, competition between towns and cities to attract companies, talent and tourists or to win the allegiance of their residents might well become tougher. Competition between cities isn't a new phenomenon. It has existed as long as trade has existed, but in the current context of accelerated globalization it has acquired a new face and cities are using all their ingenuity to showcase their particular strengths.
Among the means at their disposal, all kinds of ranking and benchmarking - to use the fashionable term - are increasingly being called on. Whether based on objective criteria or more subjective survey material, they enable cities to compare themselves with others and adapt their strategies to suit their particular strengths and weaknesses.
Émile Hooge has studied most of the benchmarking indices on the big metropolises currently in existence. After reminding us of the basis of cities' strategies in the international competition between them, he presents these indices here (European Cities of the Future, European Competitiveness Index, Quality of Living Index, European Cities Monitor, City Brands Index etc.), indicating their chief characteristics, together with the positive grounds for using them and, also, their limitations. He also shows that new areas of competition are emerging, with the two main fields currently covered by cities in their public relations (material values and image values) being potentially joined by the two complementary fields of functional values and identity values.