In recent years, research and publication activity in the field of small and medium-sized cities (SMSCs) in an international context has been increasing. However, a survey of extant research remains missing. To bridge this gap, this paper presents a systematic and comprehensive review of the relevant literature revealing how various disciplines, from geography to economics, approach the topic from different perspectives, which can be related to various foci of sustainability. Empirical results show that the development and significance of SMSCs are influenced by spatial location and innovative activity, networking, and the intensity of cooperation with other cities. Additionally, transport infrastructure connections, control through network-related spatial planning approaches, and exceptional positioning of individual architectural buildings can play a decisive role. However, there is no singular understanding of SMSCs, with many different research perspectives distinguishable.
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