AbstractIn the era of the knowledge economy, the polycentricism and polycentricity of urban regions holds important implications for knowledge production, collaboration, and innovation. Using data from Chinese and English journal repositories on urban paper publications and intercity paper collaborations, this paper measures morphological and functional knowledge polycentricities in 19 urban agglomerations in China in 2014–2016. We find that, first, the morphological polycentricity of urban agglomeration is on the whole higher than the functional polycentricity of agglomerations, but that no obvious correlation exists between these two types of polycentricities. Most agglomerations, further, are found to be characterized by high morphological and low functional polycentricities, while the dual low morphological and functional polycentric types are rarely seen, indicating that homogeneous knowledge production characteristics are not necessarily accompanied by high levels of knowledge cooperation. Second, urban agglomerations that are both highly morphologically and functionally polycentric (such as most urban agglomerations along China’s eastern coast) tend to be characterized by a higher overall level of knowledge innovation. The development of functional polycentricity is, therefore, closely related to the knowledge stock and innovation foundations of an urban agglomeration. Third, the typological basis for the development of functional knowledge polycentricity is predominantly the level of economic development of a given agglomeration, which also steers the potential impact of (synergistic) innovation policies on knowledge polycentricity. The study argues that, while it is difficult to establish a relationship between morphological knowledge polycentric and the level of innovation in urban agglomerations, functional polycentricity is an important condition for urban agglomerations to function as innovation incubators.

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