Clustering of New Cities and the Theory of a Herd Mentality

  • Russell M. SmithEmail author
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


Newly incorporated municipalities (NIMs) disproportionately are located near other new municipalities. This clustering phenomenon had been previously identified by scholars, but little research had been conducted on why it occurs. Based upon more recent research, new cities seem to cluster together as a result of a herd mentality in which numerous and proximate unincorporated communities follow one another along the path to local self-determination. Additional research has also identified the presence of a pioneer NIM, who clears the numerous hurdles facing a community that wishes to incorporate and blazes a trail for subsequent incorporations within a limited geographic area. In the USA, 57% of the NIMs incorporated since 1990 have done so within a county with at least one additional new municipality. On the extreme end of this spatial pattern lie several hyperclustering counties that witnessed the incorporation of more than four NIMs between 1990 and 2010. These counties include King County, WA; Miami-Dade County, FL and Union County, NC. On the metropolitan wide scale, the Atlanta Metro Region has recently seen the incorporation of 10 NIMs since 2005, with the potential for several more in the coming years. In the end, the grouping of new cities in close geography seems to be a spatial pattern that will continue into the future as unincorporated areas learn from nearby neighbors how and why they can and should incorporate.


Atlanta Charlotte Clustering Herd mentality Hyperclustering Pioneer NIM 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.History, Politics and Social JusticeWinston-Salem State UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

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