Quantitative performance assessment of Asian stellar cities by a DEA cascade system: a capability interpretation

Karima Kourtit*, Peter Nijkamp, Soushi Suzuki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Asia hosts several mega-cities with great economic power, which are often in a mutual competitive relationship. Despite smart specialisation and heterogeneity on national and global markets, they are often in pursuit of the highest possible socio-economic outcome so as to outperform their peers in this dynamic region. The present study seeks to present an operational comparative framework for judging the complex performance of several (12) large urban agglomerations in Asia. In the framework of this paper, these cities are called ‘stellar cities’. Two particular research challenges are addressed: (i) the development and application of a new Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) approach, culminating—after a cascade of sequential analytical steps—in an Autoconfiguration Target Model which serves as a quantitative statistical tool for evaluating the (relative) multidimensional goal-oriented performance of the cities concerned; and (ii) a new functional interpretation of the DEA slack space for the possible improvement of inefficiently operating cities on the basis of Amartya Sen’s capability theory. In the paper, we use an extensive database on 12 Asian stellar cities, extracted from the annual Global Power City Index (GPCI) system which contains more than 60 urban performance indicators, which has been constructed by the Institute of Urban Strategies (Tokyo). We find that the performance ranking of these Asian mega-cities shows the ‘winners’, but also a high variability, with several positive and negative outliers. We conclude that there is clearly scope (‘capability’) for further improvement of the efficiency of most Asian cities in various specific policy domains, as shown by the DEA results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-286
Number of pages28
JournalAnnals of Regional Science
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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