The point of departure of our comparative analysis was the Amsterdam cityregion. The core city, Amsterdam, at the time of our study had about 750,000 inhabitants and about 400,000 jobs. The city-regional unit we chose to study, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, was home to about 2 million people and about 1 million jobs. While in the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the largest and economically most important city-region, it is only a medium-sized city-region and ‘sub-top’ in the city and regional rankings in the European context. The first search criteria for city-regions we intended to compare the Amsterdam region with were therefore city-regional size (in terms of population and employment) and the relative position of the city-regions in the European hierarchy. It did not make much sense to compare a city-region like Amsterdam with European giants like London or Paris, even though in some sub-sectors of the creative knowledge economy Amsterdam is actually a direct competitor of those city-regions. Instead, we searched city-regions:

with a regional population between 1 and 5 million, and a core city population of between 500,000 and 2 million; with regional job concentrations between 500,000 and 2.5 million jobs, and a core city concentration of between 250,000 and 1 million; with a prominent position in their national economic contexts, and a position in the broader ‘European sub-top’, or in other words: city-regions that are competitive both nationally and (to a somewhat more modest extent) internationally.