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Geographies of Place Branding: Researching through small and medium sized cities
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Place branding is commonly conceptualized with a focus on big cities, such as London, New York and Singapore, building from concepts and models from mainstream branding theory. In contrast to such conceptualizations, this thesis focuses on place branding in small and medium-sized cities. The present thesis aims to study place branding from a geographical perspective. It starts with debates theoretical and empirical understandings of place branding; what it is and how it is affecting the places where it is introduced. The thesis develops and argues for a perspective of territoriality and relationality to place branding discussing concepts, methods and empirical approaches to carry out place branding research using geographical perspectives. Empirically, this thesis focuses on in-depth studies of place branding in small and medium-sized cities in Sweden. By analyzing the development of place branding over the course of time, nuances and aspects of both territorial and relational origin emerge, situating place branding practices within a wider spatial contextualization. Four individual papers are presented, which taken together contribute to the aim of the thesis. Paper 1 introduces the place branding research field in geography and how it has developed; Paper 2 investigates the phenomena of flagship buildings located in small cities and towns; Paper 3 discusses the relationship between policy tourism and place branding; and Paper 4 analyzes how local environmental policies are affected by green place branding. The thesis demonstrates the complex and continuously interchangeable spatial structures and place contexts that create and re-produce the geographies of place branding. Here, research models and methodological examples are presented to illustrate how place branding can be studied from a geographical perspective and thus improve theoretical understandings of place branding.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University , 2015. , 72 p.
Series
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0585-3508 ; 148
Keyword [en]
place branding, place marketing, small and medium sized cities, hotels, flagship buildings, policy tourism, policy boosterism, green cities, regional development, economic geography, Sweden, Växjö
National Category
Human Geography Social and Economic Geography Economic Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115638ISBN: 978-91-7649-144-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-115638DiVA: diva2:798832
Public defence
2015-05-22, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-04-28 Created: 2015-03-27 Last updated: 2015-04-28Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Placing place branding: an analysis of an emerging research field in human geography
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Placing place branding: an analysis of an emerging research field in human geography
2014 (English)In: Geografisk tidsskrift, ISSN 0016-7223, E-ISSN 1903-2471, Vol. 114, no 2, 143-155 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A growing trend among policy-makers is to regard place branding as a crucial component of regional development strategies. Alongside this shift in policy, research on place branding has increased drastically throughout the social sciences, building on concepts and ideas from corporate branding. This research has been given a number of critical testimonies claiming that place branding lacks coherent theoretical frameworks based on research findings, that it promotes simplified perspectives of places and that little empirical evidence is found to support positive effects of place branding. Branding is at the same time argued to be inherently geographical, since it is situated in and associated with spaces and places. Based on these claims and with the aim to contribute to the understanding of this emerging literature, this paper provides an in-depth analysis of the conceptual development of place branding research in human geography making three claims: Firstly, the theoretical understandings of place branding have moved beyond a conceptual framework stemming from corporate branding. Secondly, these theoretical developments are mainly derived from empirically based research. Thirdly, geographers, by studying place branding using various conceptions of place as defined in human geography, are making distinctive conceptual contributions to the multi-disciplinary research field of place branding.

Keyword
place branding, human geography, literature review, branding
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107880 (URN)10.1080/00167223.2014.895954 (DOI)000348430700005 ()
Available from: 2014-10-01 Created: 2014-10-01 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. Beyond “Guggenheiming”: From flagship buildings to flagship space in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Beyond “Guggenheiming”: From flagship buildings to flagship space in Sweden
2014 (English)In: Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift - Norwegian Journal of Geography, ISSN 0029-1951, Vol. 68, no 4, 228-237 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Flagship buildings are promoted as a good strategy to stimulate economic development. Pushed by a range of actors, “best practice” examples are being copied from place to place around the globe. Flagship buildings are accompanied by a discourse of place branding that stresses a need for cities to improve their attractiveness. Drawing on this discourse and ongoing discussions on deterritorialization and reterritorialization in urban and economic geography, the author argues that there is an overly deterritorialized approach to flagship buildings in the place-branding literature. Using a conceptual framework inspired by the reterritorialization debate, she introduces the concept of “flagship space,” emphasizing a dualism in place branding encompassing both deterritorialized and territorial processes that in interplay create best-practice examples. The empirical analysis examines the development of five flagship hotels in Sweden. The author concludes that the five hotels have both created and are constantly reproducing their statuses as flagship developments. However, the creation and reproduction of status is not only upheld by the operators of the hotels but is also a joint effort of actors in the local community. Through these processes and practices the understanding of the hotels is broadened from merely being flagship buildings to creators of flagship space.

Keyword
flagship buildings, hotels, place branding, reterritorialization, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107881 (URN)10.1080/00291951.2014.927915 (DOI)000341340800003 ()
Available from: 2014-10-01 Created: 2014-10-01 Last updated: 2015-03-30Bibliographically approved
3. From the greenest city in Europe to green heptathlon: place branding and policy tourism in Växjö, Sweden’
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From the greenest city in Europe to green heptathlon: place branding and policy tourism in Växjö, Sweden’
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper examines the motivations and practices of cities engaging in policy boosterism, ‘a subset of traditional branding and marketing activities that involves the active promotion of locally developed and/or locally successful policies, programs, or practices across wider geographical fields as well as to broader communities of interested peers' (McCann, 2013: 5). The paper draws together literatures on policy boosterism, policy tourism, and place branding to explore the motivations of cities sharing policies in a competitive policy environment through policy tourism.  Using the case of environmental and urban sustainability policies in Växjö, Sweden, we examine how the rationale for sharing policy has changed over time, and how this both reflects and shapes the organization of policy tourism through technical visits and the branding of Växjö as ‘the greenest city in Europe’. Our study suggests that policy tourism and urban policymaking co-evolve in the context of policy boosterism. In Växjö what began as opportunistic branding now drives local environmental policymaking as the city strives to remain at the cutting edge. We suggest that detailed, longitudinal case studies are required to build a picture of the relationship between policy boosterism, policy tourism and urban policymaking in a variety of contexts. 

Keyword
Policy boosterism, policy tourism, place branding, Sweden, Växjö
National Category
Economic Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115378 (URN)
Available from: 2015-03-22 Created: 2015-03-22 Last updated: 2015-03-30
4. "Green cities" going greener? Local environmental policymaking & place branding in the ”Greenest city in Europe”
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Green cities" going greener? Local environmental policymaking & place branding in the ”Greenest city in Europe”
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A growing number of cities around the world have taken advantage of their green image of the purpose of place branding. In the research literature, it is suggested that these practices are motivated by place-based competition over financial and social capital, combined with more holistic motives of sustainable urban development. However, although an increasing number of green cities are engaged in place branding, few studies have researched the impact of place branding on environmental policy-making in a city. What happens to local environmental policy-making when a framework of place branding embraces it? Addressing this issue, this paper discusses how the continuity of local environmental policy-making is affected by place-branding practices. To tackle this task, the paper first introduces an analytical framework of the elements in environmental policy-making that have been identified as generating a green status for cities. Secondly, using that framework, this paper present an in-depth case study of a city branding itself as the “Greenest city in Europe”. Drawing on the growing body of work on green cities, this paper investigates the “understudied” practice of using policy for the purpose of place branding as well as the impact of place branding “on the environment”.

Keyword
place branding, green cities, policy boosterism, Sweden, Växjö
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115540 (URN)
Available from: 2015-03-26 Created: 2015-03-26 Last updated: 2015-05-26Bibliographically approved

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