Using a hybrid Delphi hierarchical process, the development of a holistic index to measure city competitiveness in Malaysia: a case study from Penang Island

Publication Name

Modeling Earth Systems and Environment


Assessing city competitiveness is a key to achieving sustainable city development by monitoring the factors that influence everyday urban living. A holistic index was developed that accounts for the economic, sociocultural and environmental dimensions of city competitiveness. We present a detailed account of how to develop a city competitiveness index using a hybrid Delphi hierarchy process (HDHP) model that can serve as a blueprint for other studies. The model was created by consulting with experts across multiple qualitative and semi-quantitative rounds of data collection to help select the most important and sensitive criteria and sub-criteria that affect city competitiveness. In our study, the HDHP model found that for Penang Island, economic competitiveness, with a weight of 0.595 and a corresponding inconsistency (CI) of 0.04, was deemed to have a greater impact on city competitiveness than environmental competitiveness, having a weight of 0.276 and a CI of 0.02, and social and cultural competitiveness, with a weight of 0.128 and a CI of 0.08. Zone 1 has a weight of 0.360, which means it has less of an influence than Zone 2, which has a weight of 0.636 as an option in terms of economic competitiveness. Economic and environmental competitiveness have a significant impact on Zone 2. We highlight that the index to city competitiveness assessment (CCA) needs to be complex to balance economic, sociocultural and environmental aspects and that such knowledge will enhance our understanding of the type of data that need to be monitored by agencies for modelling purposes.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

Universiti Sains Malaysia



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