24 March 2016

Place branding in strategic spatial planning. An analysis at the regional scale with special reference to Northern Portugal

Dear All,

With pleasure we would like to invite you to the PhD defence of Eduardo Oliveira.
Eduardo Oliveira is a PhD at the Planning department under the supervision of prof. Gert de Roo and prof. Greg Ashworth.

On Thursday March 31, 2016 at 16.15 hrs. Eduardo will defend his thesis 'Place branding in strategic spatial planning. An analysis at the regional scale with special reference to Northern Portugal', University of Groningen, Broerstraat 5 in Groningen.

http://www.rug.nl/news-and-events/events/phd-ceremonies/?hfId=117495

A hardcopy of the thesis can be picked up at Alida Meerburg her office (0118).

Best regards,

Prof. Oscar Couwenberg
Dean of the Faculty

23 March 2016

Coming soon: Place branding in strategic spatial planning


This PhD thesis brings together the strategic spatial planning approach and place branding, specifically at the regional scale. It critically scrutinizes the actual or potential roles of place branding as an instrument for the attainment of strategic spatial planning goals. This discussion is currently gaining particular momentum at a time when the application of branding techniques and principles to places has been firmly positioned on the agendas of local and regional governments. Place branding has also become an increasingly appealing topic for academic research. The theoretical assumption postulated in this thesis is that place branding could and perhaps should be integrated into strategic spatial planning, independent of the geographical scale of application and whether the place branding initiatives are novel or a re-branding exercise. This thesis investigates the empirical significance of a regional branding strategy for northern Portugal, integrated into wider strategic spatial planning, and its ability to overcome the entrenched regional, economic and social difficulties and imbalances. To achieve this aim, a qualitative methodology is employed, specifically involving a content analysis of strategic spatial plans, development plans, strategic initiatives, and online traveller-generated content. Sixteen regional actors with a stake and expertise in the region are also interviewed. By drawing the attention of readers – academics, practitioners, policy makers and spatial planners – to place branding as a strategic spatial planning instrument, this thesis contributes to the theoretical underpinnings of place branding, helping to make it more effective, efficient, and socially and environmentally responsible.
Online soon

11 March 2016

Preface: Place branding in strategic spatial planning

This Ph.D. thesis brings together the strategic spatial planning approach and place branding, specifically at the regional scale. It critically explores the actual or potential roles of place branding as an instrument for the attainment of strategic spatial planning goals. 

This discussion is gaining particular momentum at a time when the application of branding techniques and principles to places, such as cities and regions, has been firmly positioned on the agendas of local and regional governments. Place managers and policy-makers have been embracing place branding as a panacea for a bewildering assortment of deep-seated economic and social ailments, as well as a critical component to assist regional development strategies. However, and in spite of theoretical and empirical advancements, the debate on place branding often lacks any intellectual grounding or even positioning within wider spatial planning strategies, and is ripe for a rethinking in terms of its origins, theoretical underpinnings, conceptual development and practical applications.

Strategic spatial planning, which has been gaining in popularity in Europe, particularly at the regional level, was conceived as a means of overcoming the temporal and often spatial limitations and rigidities of traditional/statutory planning, by confronting the contemporary social, spatial and economic needs of a place and envisioning shared, realistic and desirable better futures for places and their citizens. Strategic spatial planning focuses on a limited number of strategic key issues and focuses on place-specific qualities and assets (whether tangible or intangible). In addition, strategic spatial planning involves relevant place actors and the specific activities of citizens, politicians and spatial planners. 

Proactive civic participation in a collective strategy and vision for a place (for instance, a region) may generate trust and legitimize spatial interventions, as participants in the process are likely to find that some visions present a future that certain individuals would like to inhabit; to work, study and play in; visit and develop leisure activities in, while other possible futures are considered highly undesirable. In this regard, place branding may be used in support of such visionary realignments and structural change; to foster economic restructuring, social inclusion and cohesion, political engagement and civic participation; as well as the reinforcement of place identification and the general well-being of citizens and communities.

The theoretical assumption postulated in this thesis is that place branding could and perhaps should be integrated into strategic spatial planning, independent of the geographical scale of application and whether the place branding initiatives are novel or a re-branding exercise. This thesis investigates the empirical significance of a regional branding strategy for northern Portugal (NUTS II), integrated into wider strategic spatial planning, and its ability to overcome the entrenched regional, economic and social difficulties and imbalances. To achieve this aim, a qualitative methodology was employed. Specifically, a content analysis of strategic spatial plans, development plans, strategic initiatives and online tourist-/traveller-generated content for Portugal and its northern region. In addition, 16 regional actors with a stake (and expertise) in the region were interviewed. 

By drawing the attention of scholars, practitioners and policy-makers towards place branding as a strategic spatial planning instrument, this thesis aims to contribute to theoretical underpinnings of place branding in order to make it effective, efficient, socially and environmentally responsible and more grounded in theory. 

7 March 2016

Place Branding in de Strategische Ruimtelijke Planning: Een analyse op regionale schaal met speciale verwijzing naar de noordelijke regio van Portugal


This thesis examines the actual or potential role of place branding as an instrument of strategic planning approach, specifically on the regional scale. Through a thorough exploration of the theoretical relationships between place branding   and strategic planning this thesis addresses the gaps in the place branding literature and contributes to the theoretical refinement and development. At the same time the thesis contributes to the tool palette of the strategic planning approach and spatial strategy; therefore strengthens the foundations for a renewal of strategic planning.

This thesis examines the empirical importance of a region-branding initiative as a tool integrated into the broader strategic planning, through the case study to treat the northern region of Portugal, one of the five NUTS II regions on the mainland. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the academic debate and practice of regional branding   by discussing the relevance and effectiveness in supporting spatial-economic and socio-spatial rearrangement means shaping clearly foreseen, receipted and realistic images of the future for places like regions.


The primary reasoning line is postulated in this thesis - place branding   as a tool of strategic planning - is separate from the corporate branding and marketing approaches with respect to the process of place branding, which still dominate the discourse. This is done without undermining the importance of translating mainstream methods of business and corporate branding; Instead, it emphasizes the value and effectiveness of a more geographically and Spatial Development Perspective in place branding. 

Special issue in European Planning Studies Spatial planning and place branding: rethinking relations and synergies

Introduction:  Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen and Eduardo Oliveira  Rethinking planning-branding relations: an introduction . https:...