Yanchula, J. (2008), "Place management: collecting definitions and perspectives: reflections from the Editorial Advisory Board", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 1 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/jpmd.2008.35501aaa.003
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Place management: collecting definitions and perspectives: reflections from the Editorial Advisory Board
Article Type: EAB comments From: Journal of Place Management and Development, Volume 1, Issue 1.
Place management: collecting definitions and perspectives: reflections from the Editorial Advisory Board
Place management has a long pedigree and a quick recap of its public policy institutional history will help explain its new currency.
Place has always been associated with identity and our early experiences of the world and therefore has an intrinsic “value” to all people. It is the valuing of place that initially led to most forms of organisation being place based. The origins of the organisation of both church and state are rooted in place. In western societies, in particular, churches have historically adopted place-based organisation (diocese/parishes, etc.) and so has democracy (electorates).
Following the industrial revolution and growing prosperity, liberal democratic states began to adopt functional forms of organising as a more efficient way of managing state business. Departments of state emerged around health, education, defence, justice and infrastructure. As a rearguard action against the rise of political parties (organised around ideology not place) many democracies created special institutions to represent places (for example the Senate in Australia at least in principle represents place-based regions).
Whilst functional forms of organising worked spectacularly well for the twentieth century (leaving aside “externalities” such as climate change!) there are now four drivers revitalising the place management debate:
(1) The place-based consequences of un-coordinated functional activity playing out for example in 9/11 failures, in long lead times for delivery of services, and perception of governments and public sectors as siloed, aloof and out of touch.
(2) In parallel, with (1) the growth of civic renewal doctrines and a more savvy public demanding more localised and responsive services and engagement with governments and the pubic sector.
(3) The recognition of place as a “factor of production” that is having agency to shape productivity and innovation. This plays out, for example in the international rush to see cities as economic agents and in the focus on the “liveability” of cities. Globalisation of markets and globalisation of production has thrown a spotlight back on the competitiveness of places not just firms.
(4) The revival of community as a valued aspect of wellbeing and of community strengthening as a function of government. This plays out, for example in the numerous regeneration strategies now underway across OECD countries.
Theoretically, these drivers are linked to the increasing recognition of the interdependence of the four capitals: social, economic, human and natural. It is as much relations between the capitals that explains phenomenon rather than action within a “capital”. Since, place is the site where capitals are often formed and where the dynamics are played out the management of place again becomes a public policy issue.
Professor David Adams, Professor of Management and Innovation, Australian Innovation Research Centre, University of Tasmania
The focus of my interests has long been on the way places, especially cities, are perceived, imagined and promoted, and particularly how imagined pasts are created in the service of contemporary needs. As a geographer by academic background, I am intrigued by how places are made and remade by creative imaginations to satisfy diverse collective and individual objectives. Current place management policy is struggling to resolve the paradoxes and contradictions that revolve around notions of localism/globalism, hierarchies/networks, heterogeneity/homogeneity, competition/cooperation, equity/ efficiency and the like. In the fields of place promotion, marketing and branding, for example, the desire of places to be unique and different confronts a practice which more often leads to similitude and uniformity. It is also obvious that place management policies operate within societies of increasing plurality of cultures, life-styles, expectations and interventions. Place management has thus become more difficult, complex and unpredictable but equally more necessary, demanding, and indeed fascinating. I hope the journal will reflect these challenges and this diversity.
Professor Gregory Ashworth, Professor of Heritage Management and Urban Tourism, Department of Planning, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
The potential of the new journal, Journal of Place Management and Development (JPMD) is clear. Whilst modified by technological and organisational developments, the importance of specific places to our economic geography remains and is in some senses heightened. Coalesced with this are crucial social and cultural considerations of place. The effective management of many places provides significant challenges, not least as a result of the long acknowledged complexity of conceiving of places as a distinct entity when they are frequently comprised of many different elements and agendas. Very noticeably in the case of urban places, there is the stretching of the management realm beyond the public sector. The implications of these challenges remain to be fully addressed and there is scope in this new journal to contribute to the search for effective solutions.
My own interests in place management and marketing have emerged from the analysis of the retail sector, with the link perhaps most obvious in relation to the theme of retail-led regeneration. The sector is also directly affected by the innovation and adoption of formal management models and policies intended to improve the performance of places. One example is the business improvement district concept that originated in North America and is now being widely translated at the international scale. Staying for the moment with the retail sector perspective, we can also uncover the potential for the organic development of retail places and localised solutions, see for example the work of some fellow Editorial Advisory Board members on urban quarters, and in the case of fair trade towns the scope for an initially local marketing initiative to evolve so that now a variety of places, including universities, towns and, if plans come to fruition, nations; form parts of a complex network aimed to promote “alternative” systems of production, distribution and consumption.
The above examples clearly stem from only one, admittedly narrow perspective on the broad theme of the management and development of places. The journal's pages will be filled with conceptual and empirical analyses of many different types of places and spaces flowing from a variety of academic disciplines and practices. This in itself represents a challenge of course, as disciplines too often talk past one another, but by bringing such work together there is a real opportunity for focussed and meaningful debate.
Dr Andrew Alexander, Reader in Retail Management, School of Management, University of Surrey, UK
Place management is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses disciplines such as management, retail, marketing, branding, human geography, sociology, urban planning, finance, psychology, economics, architecture, the arts, environmental sciences, political science and international relations as sources of knowledge and influence in the everyday running of public and private spaces. These may include parks, city centres, rural environments, shopping malls and all spaces that are managed by man. Although all these academic disciplines and professions have evolved over time to create a wide variety of journals and periodicals that disseminate research and, in some cases, provide a forum for practitioners to reflect on current trends, few journals have ever had a focus on something as tangible and relevant to our everyday lives as the JPMD. After all, the association of man with generally managed urban and rural places spans thousands of years of history and has come to form the backbone of our identity, civilisation and wellbeing. In spite of this and of technological advances, our ability as a species to manage places in a sustainable way has progressively come under scrutiny as knowledge grows of the effects of the global on the local (and vice versa) from an economic, social and environmental perspective.
The JPMD will help to fill a gap in our understanding of these intricate interactions through its multidisciplinary approach but, more importantly, it will also help us to further our understanding of the role of that great catalyst for change in the morphology of urban and rural landscapes people. The processes involved in the management of places, their consequences and future implications at local, regional, national and international levels form a discipline in itself that we may only ignore at our own peril.
J. Andres Coca-Stefaniak, Senior Lecturer in Place Management, IPM Postgraduate and Post-experience Programmes Manager, Institute of Place Management, UK
Place management is particularly important in the field of retailing because of the importance of country of origin research in international retailing and supply chain sourcing. As my own research has moved more into the fashion supply chain through the George Davies Centre for Retail Excellence at Heriot-Watt University, place management has considerable relevance to our research. In the luxury brands sector, for example, the importance of heritage and the turnaround of famous brands such as Burberry, Pringle and Aquascutum owe much to the values associated with English and Scottish clothing traditions. The launch of the new journal will therefore be welcomed by industry practitioners and academics interested in this exciting area of research.
Professor John Fernie, Head of School of Management and Languages, Professor of Retail Marketing, Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University, UK
The challenge of place management has increased significantly over the last 25 years as the landscape of “place” has become more complex and competitive. The development of a place management profession coupled with a growing awareness of the importance of place has resulted in an increasingly varied set of stakeholders (public, private and citizens) involved in planning, marketing and managing the “places” in which we work, shop, reside and visit. Recently, the field of place management is populated with a diverse set of interests, concerns and visions. Within this myriad of often conflicting and competing stakeholders the landscape of place emerges. The set of places in which the consumer commercial structure is located provide an example of the competing forces within one part of the place management field. In a North American context, the consumer commercial structure includes a range of places, from traditional commercial hubs in the downtown, to diverse inner-urban streetscapes, to suburb satellite communities and small town main streets. These commercial places all compete with one another for people's time, money and their life experiences. At a broad level the commercial function (e.g. retail and service offerings) may be essentially quite similar between these places, yet, the sense of place and place experience can provide the critical point of differentiation.
The complexity of place is in part played out through the interplay between the various stakeholders involved in commercial structure main street/business improvement area managers, local municipal and regional planners (inc. economic development, transportation, works, etc.), the provincial/federal government, community groups, property owners, heritage conservation, shopping centre developers, corporate retailers, independent business operators and of course, the consumer. This mosaic provides the arena for place management research; and through furthering understanding of these inter-linkages, both the theory and practice of place management will be enriched.
Dr Tony Hernandez, Director/Eaton Chair in Retailing, Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
Place management in Salzburg
To be able to understand the severe changes cities have undergone in recent history, let me start with a brief metaphor.
Once cities used to be comparable with boiled eggs. The “yolk” was the downtown area where all the functions of the city were concentrated. Schools, administration, stores, handicraft business, market places, etc. could be found downtown whereas the “white of the egg” was the residential quarter. The whole organism was protected by the “egg shell” or in other words the city wall.
Nowadays cities look more like scrambled eggs. The reasons for this change are numerous. The social cultural change started with the industrial revolution and the disappearance of traditional handicraft business. Later, with the expansion of the road network and the augmentation of mobility it was no longer necessary for the population to live close to their work places. The dream of the privately owned home in the periphery of the big cities began. Soon policy makers provided the new founded settlements with infrastructure and furthermore business companies supplied the downtown escapees with daily goods.
These dramatic changes led to town centres that were continuously thinning out in a vicious cycle: not enough residents to fill the class rooms schools were shut down; not enough customers for daily goods retailers closed; not enough residents to provide a decisive amount of votes politicians gave up on the town centres and concentrated their force to the peripheral areas where the major part of the city's inhabitants now reside.
This is the point where place management comes into play. It is not our duty to work against the social cultural change over the recent decades, but it is definitely our job to support the city centre's main functions and respond to emerging trends. In some ways, the city centre is re-inventing itself and we are seeing.
The city as a destination. Tourists and visitors bring economic vitality to the city, but they also demand change (different forms of retailing or extension of opening hours, particularly at holiday periods) and create challenges (traffic congestion, pavement blockages and increased demand for cleansing services).
The city as a backdrop. Marathons, cycle races, motorsport events as well as large-scale art festivals all seek the internationally recognisable backdrops that can be provided by downtowns. Town and city centres need to have the courage to price such events properly, provide the infrastructure support required and benefit from new opportunities for co-operation.
The city as an innovator. Whether it is the regeneration of former industrial areas into trendy quarters that attract a new generation of urban residents, quirky retailers, bars and restaurants, the reuse of buildings to provide flexible and adaptable workspace for new enterprises, or the staging of edgy new events and festivals, city centres are identifying new flagships and icons that enable them to redefine themselves.
The city as a community. As public authorities seek new partnerships with the private sector to pay for service delivery or infrastructure investment, there is a growing sense of ownership of projects and spaces by the business community but it is important that this does not lead to privatisation of space that excludes some of the community a centre serves. Place management has an important role to ensure that all the community remains welcome.
These new roles for city centres require pro-active management approaches to keep the balance and prevent clashes of function, activities, or visions. City centres will continue to need to reinvent themselves and learning about good practice and research evidence will help those of us engaged in this process to do a better job.
Inga Horny, Managing Director, Tourism Association, Austria
As a heritage interpretation professional, I am interested how we can develop places so that there is a sense of what makes them special and distinctive through associated culture or nature. While I work in the UK city of Chester, which has perhaps an obvious rich heritage spanning some 2000 years (including unique rows, almost complete circuit of city walls, Roman amphitheatre and other historic buildings), it should be stressed that every place has a history.
Many journal readers may be new to the term heritage interpretation. The Association for Heritage Interpretation in the UK presents it as “the art of helping people explore and appreciate our world”. The Interpretation Australia Association expands on this, defining it as “a means of communicating ideas and feelings which help people understand more about themselves and their environment”. It also notes that there are many different ways of communicating these ideas including guided walks, talks, drama, displays, signs, brochures and electronic media. To this list I would also add public art, self guided trails, visitor centres, and bus, boat and (for example, in the case of Liverpool) amphibious vehicle tours. How places are designed overall can also reflect their heritage.
A key challenge is to make heritage meaningful to different contemporary audiences including the local community, day trippers and overnight tourists. It must also address issues such as visual intrusion (e.g. through signage), carrying capacity (e.g. through boosting visitor numbers), conservation and other impacts. This can only really be done through proper planning and development with input from across different disciplines and with a range of stakeholders. It also needs to interface with other aspects of planning and development, and also ongoing management and maintenance. The world is littered with interpretive provision that has been installed but not maintained or refreshed perhaps a failure to recognize that all products, including place products, have lifecycles.
The need for an interdisciplinary approach in place management is also obvious as a judge for the Green Flag Award. This scheme applies to parks and other greenspaces and is run by the UK's Civic Trust. It is based around eight criteria a welcoming place; healthy, safe and secure; clean and well maintained; sustainability; conservation and heritage; community involvement, marketing; and (overall) management. This exemplifies that greenspace managers need to understand how to co-ordinate all the different aspects into their planning and delivery and the skills to work with other professionals and partnerships.
As a former environmental adviser and with ever more evidence of environmental impacts, I feel that environmental sustainability is a fundamental issue for all place managers. In particularly, this includes the challenge of how to deal with carbon dioxide emissions from our hydrocarbon-fuelled economy especially from transport. How to design-in sustainability and design-out carbon and waste will be critical. Also, key will be tools and approaches to assist and influence all the various players that interact with places so that they can “do their bit”.
I am hoping that the journal will help set out research needs, report research findings and, importantly, disseminate best practice to help place managers to be more informed and have enhanced competence to manager their ever complex and demanding world.
Paul Hyde, Heritage Interpretation Officer, Chester City Council, UK
The managers of places need to be clear about the future of their place. In the context of places, a “whatever will be” approach (as per the song “a Que Sera Sera”) is ignorant of a truly global world where people, capital and entire businesses can relocate relatively easily and there are often incentives provided to do so. Place managers need to be aware of the competitive environment which now exists between places. Close scrutiny of places by a diverse array of stakeholders and interest groups who have an ability to widely and rapidly communicate their opinions means that lavish yet shallow promotional campaigns are transparent and short lived. Places need to have definite economic and social plans a blueprint for their future which should be supported by a comprehensive marketing plan and the available resources and capabilities for implementation. Importantly, places need to have strong leadership at both the political and operational levels. Leaders who have knowledge and skills in place management are needed. The JPMD contributes to satisfying this need. The places with a sustainable future will be those who have place managers whose future is theirs to see!
Greg Kerr, Head of Marketing Discipline, University of Wollongong, Australia
Place management, dreams and reality
Place management is what land use planning aspires to be. Places are more than an assemblage of buildings, roads and other physical objects. Each of us has our own personal perception of any place and the primary function of human-created places is for people. Jan Gehl describes a “good city” (and by inference, a “good place”) in the following terms:
a place to walk in and to stay in for a while;
a place for social and cultural exchanges;
a place for talking, watching and experiencing; and
a lively, diverse and safe place to move around in.
Such places do not arise from coloured maps or good intentions.
Land use planning might have eschewed the “end-state” paradigm for a more developmental approach, but too often it fails to come to grips with the reality of how and why places develop. In Australia (and in other places), there are many examples of what are described as “planned communities” an oxymoron if ever I heard one. Genuine communities usually develop in the absence of or in spite of, not because of, planning it is the unexpected that makes communities interesting and attractive to people.
Mark Twain wrote that “the reason truth is so much stranger than fiction is that it doesn't have to be consistent” by which he meant that fiction, to be credible, has to accord with our limited perceptions of reality and what is possible. Truth, on the other hand, knows no such constraints.
Similarly with places planning, almost by definition, aims to produce places that are consistent with our current perceptions of “what works” and too easily fails to acknowledge and benefit from the unexpected. In practice, places are classic examples of complex systems, characterised by simple “components” (not a mass of regulations) and by “emergence” of outcomes that cannot be anticipated from a knowledge of the parts.
In my view, place management is the means by which the unexpected can be invited to appear and to be nurtured whilst maintaining and enhancing what is already valued in a place. A “Place Manager” needs to keep the wheels turning while simultaneously making the “impossible” happen, in the sense described by Leszeck Kolakowski (winner of the Kluge Prize, 2003 given for lifetime achievement in the humanities and social sciences areas of scholarship for which there are no Nobel Prizes) when he wrote: “It may well be that the impossible at any given time can become possible only by being stated at a time when it is impossible.”
Well, perhaps not the impossible I will settle for the unexpected.
Ian Ker, Principal, Consulting in Applied Transport, Access and Land Use Systems (CATALYST), Adjunct Associate Professor in Transport Studies, Curtin University, Australia
The importance of urban place management in Japan
The population of Japan has reached its peak of 128 million in 2004 and is expected to decline to 90 million in 2055. At the same time, the percentage of the elderly population (persons 65 years old and over) will increase from 19.6 per cent in 2005 to 40.5 per cent in 2055. Though the population is beginning to shrink, cities in Japan continue to expand and disperse due to suburban housing and commercial developments. Excessive suburban developments have already spurred the decline of traditional urban centers and neighborhoods, resulting in the loss of great urban places. In order to achieve sustainability and high quality of life for all generations, we need to stop automobile-dependant suburban developments and regenerate existing urban centers and neighborhoods well supported by public transit.
One of the major issues of urban regeneration in Japan is that most urban centers and neighborhoods are shaped without clear spatial visions and strategies. Mixed use and vibrant looking vernacular urban places, often praised by European and American planners and urban designers, are merely the accidental results of market economy and loose land use/building regulations, and are actually vulnerable in many ways. Therefore, it is important for urban centers and neighborhoods in Japan to have clear spatial visions and effective strategies to be regenerated to attractive urban places. It goes without saying that various actors including citizens, businesses, governments and non-profit organizations take part in such urban regeneration. We should explore and apply systems, procedures and techniques to make possible the collaborative and sustainable management of urban places by various actors of society.
The methodology for place management and development should be diverse with different social, economical and cultural backgrounds, but there are many things to learn from each other. I am looking forward to the international discussions.
Akito Murayama, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Engineering and Architecture, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Japan
My particular area of research interest is in brands and branding. It is interesting to see how places have now become prominent brands in the same way that we have been used to fast moving consumer goods being recognised as brands. The field of branding has widened considerably and place branding is now one of the growth areas in the academic field of branding research.
The original place branding campaign was the “I love New York” campaign from the 1970s and its success was such that its iconic image is still recognised, used and imitated today. This campaign helped to start a revival in the fortunes of New York which, at the time was suffering economically, physically and psychologically, with confidence at a low ebb. However, your place does not have to be world famous to benefit from or feel able to engage in place branding. I look forward to seeing articles on how branding can help less well-known places and can give back a sense of pride to residents which may have been damaged by economic decline or other external macro-environmental factors over the years.
I am personally involved in a stream of research into “branded litter” and I know that litter is a problem for many professionals in place management as well as for ordinary citizens. I therefore also look forward to contributions in this journal dealing with micro issues, which if satisfactorily dealt with can revitalise places and provide encouragement and best practice to those who value and have interest in their place. I look forward to the success of this exciting new journal.
Dr Stuart Roper, Lecturer in Marketing, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK
The role of place management in South Africa
More and more, what were strictly commercial nodes within cities across South Africa are now becoming mixed-use, multi-tenanted urban hubs competing for business from property owners, tenants, shoppers, residents, and tourists alike. The competitive edge for many of these hubs lies in their ability to create a place that retains and entices business and people.
Added to this, growing urbanisation within South Africa and the rapidity of development in and around these spaces brings with it the need to carefully manage the process of growth. From legislative frameworks, land use and transport management, to urban design, spatial planning, and the creation of a “look and feel” for the place, there is a need to create an environment for partnership and intertwine city policy and strategy with the aims and goals of the private sector.
City improvement districts (CIDs) and the management of these entities through companies like Kagiso Urban Management (KUM), find themselves ideally positioned to coordinate efforts, intimately understand the DNA of a particular node and the needs of its users and respond accordingly, both in the strategic thinking and implementation. By doing this, these CID's are able to underpin the asset that is property and commerce, lifestyle and environment.
In these managed urban hubs, the starting point is always to get the basics right, with an unwavering commitment to issues such as cleaning and maintenance, crime prevention, informal trade management and taxi management. Ideally, the responsibility for carrying out this work should rest with the city or local authority, with service level agreements drawn up between them and the private sector to ensure the effectiveness of this service. The private sector should then focus on providing supplementary and complementary services such as place-making, social programmes, marketing, and stakeholder communication; in other words, all the initiatives required to create a place that attracts and captivates drawing people in and ensuring that those who are there stay longer and come again.
Establishing and managing CIDs requires a careful understanding of the demarcated area as well as the services needed to develop it into a destination and in the experience of KUM, by creating an environment for partnership where all stakeholders are focused on a common end goal, a managed node is better able to maximise its full potential and plan for what must be a sustainable future.
Anne Steffny, Director, Kagiso Urban Management, South Africa
Place management and the creative and tourism industries
The knowledge economy poses a number of new challenges for the management of places. While, the competitiveness of places in both the industrial as well as the service economy were very much based on the intrinsic and predetermined features (climate, geographic centrality and presence of raw inputs) that these locations possessed, the competitiveness of today's global knowledge economy very much depends on largely reproducible location factors and, as a direct consequence, on the quality of place management.
Moreover, place management is a logical evolution of the traditional urban and regional policies, policies that were merely seeking to enhance the use of the earlier mentioned features or to reduce the structural social and economic differences between regions. In practice, this means that urban and regional policy makers have been borrowing extensively from business, adding such things as place marketing, strategic planning, creative local finance and local governance to their toolkits.
In fact, many new, thriving industries like the ICT sector, the creative industry and the tourism industry are very sensitive to the way place managers are facilitating them. In particular, attractive and accessible places are more inclined to attract and keep those firms that offer them tremendous development potentials. The attractiveness and the accessibility of places depend, among others, on the quality of the living environment, the availability of educational and cultural facilities, and of transport facilities and infrastructure, all reproducible location factors.
The creative and the tourism industries are a special case altogether. Their intensive relationship with the cultural assets a place offers and the fact that these cultural assets are public goods and, hence, are not always optimally allocated, makes the case for adequate place management as a basic condition for their development even more fundamental. The optimal use of public cultural assets in the context of tourism development and the development of the creative industry has been the subject of my studies over the last 20 years.
I am honored to help to make the JPMD into a useful international and interdisciplinary platform where both academics as well practitioners may exchange best practices with respect to the management of places.
Professor Jan van der Borg, Associate Professor, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, University Ca'Foscari of Venice, Italy
The management of place, I see as not driven just by design and social issues related to the use of the built environment, but also fundamentally driven by sound economic principals. As a property economist, I inevitably look first to the financial feasibility of any project. I accept that this is often seen by the design and planning professions as a short sighted view which, in a time of economic rationalism, has led to a severe curtailing of good place design and management. I believe the challenge that we face is to move forward with a built environment which is both efficient in economic terms but which also fulfils the human need for a built environment which is rewarding and productive to live in. Economic rationalism does not always provide for productive, liveable places in which to live and work. The key to sound place management is in identifying those elements which lead to better outcomes for society as a whole and incorporating them into the built environment. This is particularly relevant to business which seeks to operate in a competitive global environment and thus the work place must deliver value.
In delivering this efficient and effective built environment, the current challenges of sustainable development and the effects of climate change must be considered. It is imperative in the establishment of future place management strategies that we adopt not only a sustainable approach to construction, delivering buildings which are adaptable to the changing workplace demands, but also increasingly new development must be cognisant of climate change and address the predicted environmental impact of global warming. In an Australian context, this predicted climate change will mean increasing average temperatures and, more significantly, an increased frequency of extreme heat days over 358C. The demands on building services and the effects on our patterns of work are only now being realised. Little has yet been achieved in addressing design and building systems to meet these challenges. My hope is that this journal will provide a forum to discuss and disseminate information on these important aspects of our built environment.
Dr Clive Warren, Senior Lecturer, School of Geography, Planning and Architecture, University of Queensland, Australia
In recent years, the competition between places has become ever more intense, partly motivating the need for effective place management. One aspect of this has been the increasing importance of place marketing, a key element of which is the commodification and representation of selected place attributes in order to promote a positive image of the place as a holistic entity.
This emphasis on image has been a key focus of much place marketing activity, because how a place is represented inevitably has an impact on its attractiveness to residents, visitors and investors. Whilst place “marketing” is arguably a relatively new phenomenon, place representation is manifest throughout history. For example, maps have provided a representation of the milieu (to use Robinson and Petchenik's definition) for a variety of purposes, from the earliest of times. Often this representation went hand-in-hand with power and control over the places concerned Jeremy Black, in his book Maps and Politics, states that maps can often be regarded as “an assertion of sovereignty”.
In the recent past, the representation of place through the use of marketing communications activity (often incorporating maps) has been a crucial part of the place marketer's task. The specific place elements highlighted in such advertising may well reflect the priorities and perspectives of hegemonic groups. Indeed, this aspect of place marketing activity what Short and Kim in their book Globalisation and the City, have termed the “political economy perspective” represents a key theme of place marketing research in the geography literature.
Even more recently, the importance of the internet in place representation cannot be ignored. Web sites enable places to be represented in a more “active” way than the essentially static map and the majority of place advertising. Such representation is created not only by “official” place marketing agencies, but also increasingly by unofficial agencies and actors as well. The advent of Web 2.0 has facilitated the development of blogs, which their authors use to promote the places in which they live a recent article in technology guardian (20 December 2007) describes how such activity is being used in a number of UK towns and cities technology primarily through geographical information systems has also revolutionised and democratised mapmaking. A recent search in Google images using the keywords “maps” and “advertising” produced over 557,000 results, created by all kinds of organisations, groups and individuals. If the representation of places is an aspect of their management and control, then perhaps the implications of the massively increased availability and accessibility of a plethora of possibly conflicting representations of places is set to be one of the main challenges for those responsible for place management in the future?
Dr Gary Warnaby, Senior Lecturer, University of Liverpool Management School, UK
Views on the current state and importance of place management today
Canadian Marshall McLuhan is credited with coining the term “global village” which most of us today understand as an irrevocable interconnectedness among people and planet. Yet, our one global village still has more than one “village square”. With global travel happening at levels unmatched in history, with the internet virtually connecting places in an instant, our concepts of “place” as a unique location especially one serving human interaction can be both diluted and reinforced. These factors tend to put our global village squares (be they situated nearby one another or half a world away) in competition in how they are perceived and enjoyed (or avoided).
Amplifying the effects of our increasing interconnectedness, over the last century or so, many more places in private control and/or ownership have now come to compete to be the crossroads of social interaction, political expression, and commerce. For centuries, regardless of one's means or position in society, these human interactions traditionally occurred almost exclusively in the public village square.
Given such competition seems to exist to be the host location for citizen interaction and consumer commerce, it is unsurprising that “place management” has emerged as a specialized endeavour. Considering the diverse social, environmental, and economic factors affecting the success and sustainability of any place, this is an endeavour requiring multidisciplinary expertise that transcends previously applied limits to what the accepted responsibilities are for municipal governance, the “public good” and “private” enterprise.
Place management helps navigate society among the complex realities that affect how, why, and when we visit one of the hundreds of “village” squares that compete for our presence. Management runs the gamut between the decidedly deterministic (e.g. forcing consumer behaviours) to fostering conditions that preserve the serendipitous (e.g. celebrations that erupt after a sports championship). It seems certain place management will continue to be necessary in distinguishing the attributes that retain diversity (countering against repetition) in the places available to us all of us not just the globetrotters.
Jim Yanchula, Manager, Urban Design and Community Development Planning Department, City of Windsor, Canada