Study on the characteristics and influencing factors of regional intergovernmental relationships network, based on the analysis of 41 urban planning texts



regional planning, intergovernmental relations, semantic analysis, social network analysis, Yangtze River Delta (YRD), China




Regional planning in China is usually formulated by higher-level governments and consists of multiple cities that reflect national strategies from top to bottom. In addition, scholars have conducted a number of studies using big data such as phone signals and investments in regions to obtain dynamic socio-economic networks from bottom to top. However, there is still a lack of perspectives based on local governments at the meso level, which are not only transmitters of higher-level planning, but also aggregators of micro subjects' needs. Competition and co-operation between cities in the context of regional integration have become more intense, which is also reflected in their planning documents. Cities mentioned in planning texts reflect their attractiveness for development in the region. This paper therefore seeks to explore which cities in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) are more attractive to other cities, what patterns of attention linkages are exhibited, and what factors contribute to this.

This paper extracts the 1,750 relations between 41 cities in the YRD using the texts of their 14th Five-Year Plans. The structure of the network is visualised through social network analysis (SNA) to identify clusters. The results are then interpreted in terms of nodes, networks and texts to find out the features behind them. Correlation analysis with economic and demographic data of the cities and semantic analysis were used to find out the factors affecting this situation.

The results show that there is a clear polarisation in the network, with Tier 1 cities taking most of the attention and forming 4 clusters around them. The results of the semantic analysis show that the demand for outward linkages is concentrated in the areas of industrial investment and transport infrastructure, while the cities that are linked have more innovative and financial resources. Although the indegree of cities has a high correlation with their total economy and population, there are still some exceptions, some developed cities do not receive much attention, while some economically backward cities receive more attention, which suggests that size, administration, and proximity are not the only reasons for cities to attract more attention, and that cities with special functions also play an important role in the region.

The innovation of this study lies in that the use of planning texts from local governments in the region fills the gap in the visualization of intergovernmental relations to a certain extent and facilitates the consideration of the developmental willingness of local governments in the formulation of regional plannings. In addition, it also explores the factors that influence the formation of the relations network, and it was found that economy and distance were the main reasons for connecting to other cities, providing suggestions for the integrated development of cities in the region.