The Emergence of International Urban Planning and Design Firms in China from an OLI Perspective


  • Hyung Min Kim Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne
  • Anthony Kent Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University



Urban planning and design firms, globalised urbanisation, foreign direct investment, producer services, China, OLI paradigm


There has been high demand for planning and design services at various scales in Chinese cities. International urban planning and design (UPD) firms have taken some of these opportunities. Despite the direct relevance of UPD industries for urbanisation and the important role of international UPD firms, little attention has been paid to their spatial and operational strategies. What are the drivers for international UPD firms appearing in China? What role have they played in China's urbanisation? This research analysed the overall trend of international UPD firms operating in China based on an extensive survey and in-depth interviews with a number of these firms. The findings suggest that the emergence of international UPD firms is largely attributable to planning system reform and internal and global forces that can be understood by the advantages that comprise the OLI framework (ownership-, location-, and internalisation-specific advantages). Ownership-specific advantages such as high-quality urban planning and design skills are the most important element for these firms, contributing to globalised urbanisation. A high locational concentration of the international UPD firms has been observed in the largest Chinese cities, i.e. Shanghai and Beijing. The establishment of international UPD offices is not limited to single Chinese cities but is spreading as further opportunities are sought in and beyond China.

Abstrak. Ada permintaan tinggi untuk layanan perencanaan dan desain di berbagai skala di kota-kota Cina. Perusahaan Perencanaan dan Perancangan Kota (PPK) Internasional telah menangkap beberapa peluang ini. Terlepas dari relevansi langsung industri-industri PPK dengan urbanisasi dan peran signifikan perusahaan-perusahaan PPK internasional, sedikit perhatian diberikan pada strategi spasial dan operasional mereka. Apakah yang mendorong kemunculan PPK internasional di Cina? Peran apa yang telah mereka mainkan dalam urbanisasi Tiongkok? Penelitian ini menganalisis tren keseluruhan perusahaan PPK internasional yang beroperasi di Cina dengan survei ekstensif dan studi kasus melalui wawancara mendalam dengan perusahaan. Temuannya menunjukkan bahwa munculnya perusahaan-perusahaan PPK internasional sebagian besar disebabkan oleh perencanaan reformasi sistem dan kekuatan internal dan global yang dapat dipahami dengan menggunakan kerangka kerja OLI (kepemilikan-, lokasi-, dan keuntungan internalisasi khusus). Keuntungan khusus kepemilikan seperti perencanaan kota dan keterampilan desain berkualitas tinggi adalah unsur yang paling penting bagi perusahaan-perusahaan ini yang berkontribusi terhadap urbanisasi global. Konsentrasi lokasi perusahaan-perusahaan PPK internasional yang tinggi telah diamati di kota-kota Cina terbesar seperti Shanghai dan Beijing. Pembentukan kantor-kantor PPK internasional tidak terbatas pada satu kota di Cina tetapi menyebar ketika peluang lebih lanjut dicari di dalam dan luar Cina.

Kata Kunci. Perusahaan perencanaan dan perancangan kota, urbanisasi global, penanaman modal asing, layanan produsen, cina, paradigma OLI.

Author Biography

Hyung Min Kim, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne

Lecturer, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning


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