Making places better, local solutions with global implications

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 25 July 2008


Parker, C. (2008), "Making places better, local solutions with global implications", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 1 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Making places better, local solutions with global implications

Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Place Management and Development, Volume 1, Issue 2

The inaugural Institute of Place Management (IPM) conference took place in London at the end of February. Entitled “Making places better, local solutions with global implications”, it offered insights into how (or whether) effective place management is having an impact both nationally and globally. During the course of the day, practitioners, academics and policy makers shared ideas that helped to establish the theoretical and practical benefits and drawbacks of place management and its relationship with change. The conference programme included 22 papers with presenters from 12 countries. In this issue of the Journal of Place Management and Development the Editors, with assistance from representatives of the Editorial Advisory Board, have selected four of the best papers from the conference and we begin our editorial with a brief review of these, before moving on to the rest of the papers contained within this issue.

The four papers selected are representative of two of the major themes present throughout the IPM conference, namely the various interpretations or contestations surrounding place and the importance of solving place problems in partnership.

The first paper, by Andrea Insch and Magdalena Florek, was the winner of the IPM Conference Best Paper Award. Entitled “A great place to live, work and play: conceptualising place satisfaction in the case of a city’s residents”, a conceptual model of resident place satisfaction is developed. The paper makes a thorough review of the relevant satisfaction literature, not only drawing from marketing but also from human ecology and sociology as “the ultimate goal of places is not financial success but the welfare and satisfaction of their residents”. The paper draws our attention to the potential contestations that can exist between residents and other place users, such as “pleasure seekers” in their pursuit of satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is often tourists and visitors who take part in satisfaction surveys, not residents. This is despite the important role residents have in the communication of the place’s (authentic) brand, their loyalty (they choose to live there) and their contribution to the place’s social, economic and other capitals. The paper was well received by place management practitioners. This illustrates the second major theme of the conference. Whilst many academic papers are written that propose models and methodologies, they only have impact “in the real world” if they are actually used. We are sure academics and practitioners alike look forward to the further development of the model into appropriate resident satisfaction measurement instruments.

The themes of contestation and partnership can be seen in the second paper by Mihalis Kavaratzis and Gregory Ashworth, “Place marketing: how did we get here and where are we going?”. Their thorough review of place marketing theory and practice demonstrates the different interpretations and agendas inherent in place marketing, associated with the various professions that either attempt to do it or understand it. The paper also identifies seven issues for the future, in which partnership, either with local communities, service providers or even other places, is a common recurring theme. Again, this paper, although clearly an academic piece, was well received by practitioners, because it offers a precise review of “how we got here and where we are going”, using language and practical examples that are accessible to someone without a PhD in marketing and/or planning. Professor Ashworth’s presentation of the paper is available to watch at

The third paper selected from the conference was Alessandro de Nisco, Maria Rosario Napolitano and Angelo Riviezzo’s “The role of stakeholders in town centre management: guidelines for identification and analysis”. Whilst the paper draws from relevant literature concerning the identification of stakeholders and the definition of an offer for a town centre, by focussing on one town in particular (Benevento, Italy) it has the potential to be used as a tool in other town centre contexts.

The final paper in the conference section of the journal is Neil Fraser’s “The contestation for, and management of, public places in Johannesburg, South Africa”. In this extended case-study, Neil takes us through the history of Johannesburg, “from algae to apartheid” and from contestations to solutions. The paper highlights the factors that make the city a vibrant space, heterogeneous and unpredictable, rather than planned, predictable and uniformly functional. These “life giving” factors are the presence of the rural in the urban (for example, the practice of keeping of livestock in apartments); the transient nature of the city (short-term immigrants “seduced by the opportunities of quick wealth”) and “the proliferation of uncertainties” (disruption to the traditional social fabric caused by the over-consumption of the city’s space and other resources). Rather than develop every square inch of the city for residential and commercial use, the “City of Johannesburg wishes to achieve a liveable city … The aim will be to see at least 5 per cent of total space … developed as quality public open space and to ensure that no person need walk more than 300 metres to find public open space”. Public open places allow space for spontaneity and other, non-commodified forms of human expression: “Good public space gives hope to citizens”.

Our editorial now moves on to the rest of the papers in the issue. First on the pitch is “Managing a third division city: negative parochialism as a restraint on urban success” by Alan Hallsworth and Simon Evans. Unlike a lot of the management and marketing literature that tends to focus upon success and “doing things right”, this paper’s contribution to place management is to highlight a negative influence (doing things wrong) and the handicap this is in the achievement of a place’s potential. As one of the paper’s reviewers commented, “parochialism is alive and well and shaping the future of some places”. As Editors, we think it important to highlight the authors’ comment that “our findings are not a criticism of those individual personalities … who have steadfastly tried to bring about major change. Rather we offer an explanation as to why they may have failed”. As places belong to everyone, it is important that place management facilitates a transparent research culture that can “hold a mirror up to nature”, to empower stakeholders to demand and help bring about positive change.

Following this, Gary Warnaby’s paper, “Why place marketers should understand cartography: future avenues for research”, focuses on the crucial roles that maps play. As methods of communication, maps are fundamental to humankind. Marketers concerned with place clearly need to recognise the various influences on the map design process: namely map initiator, the reader’s needs and map symbolisation. Maps represent another realm of contestation – not least in how the same place can be represented in different ways by different cartographers. Given that maps are a powerful global communication tool, more partnership working and understanding during the production of a map would seem to us to be an important goal to work towards.

Our final paper is an essay by Jonathan Shaw, Ben Squire Scholes and Christopher Thurgood – “The consumption of the Imperial War Museum North”. These are three undergraduate students who have recently studied the unit Critical Consumption Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. We include this essay as we feel it is an exemplar of student work exploring a topic of relevance to this journal. In addition, it has been through a blind reviewing process. Our university students of today are the potential place management protagonists of tomorrow, so it is encouraging to see the intellectual depth and insight these students demonstrate in their essay. Through a review of the role of the Imperial War Museum North from a number of perspectives (including post-modern, Marxist, cultural and economic), the authors identify that the museum is much more than “an area for consumption, educationally or otherwise”. They contend that it is central to the regeneration of Salford Quays, where it is located, and also provides individual consumers with an opportunity to build or reinforce their chosen individual identity and/or social grouping. We thank Dr Elke Pioch for bringing this work to our attention and would encourage other lecturers and tutors to contact the Editorial Team with future examples of student work that they think could be worthy of publication in the journal.

In summary, we think there is a lot to learn from the papers in this issue, whether they originated from IPM Inaugural Conference delegates, academics, practitioners or students. Immediately after this editorial we have published a review of the last issue, written by David M Feehan, President of the International Downtown Association, which we believe to be the largest association for place management in the world. He challenges the JPMD to illuminate the issues inherent in current place management theory and practice, as well as to light the path to the future. We invite you, the reader, to be the judge of how well it is doing!

Cathy Parker, John Byrom, Simon Quin