Why small towns can not share the benefits of urbanization in China?

Liyin Shen, Yitian Ren, Ning Xiong, Heng Li, Yang Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The urbanization process over last several decades in China has brought benefits in multiple dimensions throughout the country. However, it appears that the benefits shared by small towns is very limited, and this is particular the case in Southwest China. This paper examines holistically the barriers against benefit-sharing by small towns in the urbanization process in China. Theory of Constraints (TOC) has been applied in this study in producing a holistic barrier-framework for studying the significance and performance of individual barriers. 21 case townships are selected in Southwest China for field surveys, including interview discussions, on-site visits and data collections. The content analysis and Likert scale scoring approach are used to convert the survey data to score values. Those significant barriers are discussed in depth by examining practical cases extracted from the field surveys. The study presents the most significant barriers which limit the benefit-sharing by small towns in Southwest China, such as lack of talents, limited financing channels, loss of labor-force population, lack of infrastructure construction, mono-industry structure, low level management ability, and restricted jurisdiction power. The findings from this study provide valuable references to search for effective approaches for promoting the development of small towns and contributing to the healthy and sustainable urbanization process in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)728-738
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2018


  • Barriers analysis
  • Case study
  • Small towns
  • Southwest China
  • Urbanization
  • Urbanization benefits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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