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Developing a theoretical framework to analyze an urban culinary culture and explain restaurant cluster developments

Tore Omholt (Institute of Marketing, Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, Norway)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 12 October 2015




The purpose of this paper is to develop a theoretical framework to explain the development of sustainable culinary places and restaurant clusters.


The theoretical approach is based on a multi-level and multi-perspective case study approach toward studying the organization and governance of clusters of culinary activities and firms.


The main part of findings is based on the comparison of two case studies of the development of restaurant clusters, representing two different forms of knowledge management and governance.

Research limitations/implications

The findings underscore the importance of local entrepreneurs, cluster organization and governance, knowledge exchange and learning and dependence on a local catchment area. The findings also show that several forms of cluster organization can coexist in the same area and support each other, adding to increased sustainability and connectedness in an urban area.

Practical implications

The findings indicate that there is a need for a more realistic approach to the development of culinary places and destinations, and not solely rely on place branding, standard marketing procedures and support from local authorities. To develop a sustainable and connected place, we need an appropriate form of organization and governance. The findings indicate that different types of restaurant clusters require different forms of governance of knowledge management processes to be effective.

Social implications

The paper directs attention to the fact that the food sector constitutes an important sector for employment of immigrants, females and part-time workers, which together constitute the largest group with regard to unemployment in many cities. The paper also shows how the evolution of a culinary culture in Oslo has contributed to solidarity within and between ethnic groups, which is sorely needed today.


This paper shows that sustainable, liveable and connected places can be developed without reliance on standard branding and marketing procedures, and despite opposition from the retail industry and lack of support from local authorities.



Omholt, T. (2015), "Developing a theoretical framework to analyze an urban culinary culture and explain restaurant cluster developments", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 233-253.



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