Academic journal article Journal of Travel and Tourism Research (Online)

A Paradigm Shift from Tourism Destination Management to Democratic Governance of Place Branding

Academic journal article Journal of Travel and Tourism Research (Online)

A Paradigm Shift from Tourism Destination Management to Democratic Governance of Place Branding

Article excerpt


Consequent to the adoption of new technologies, the paradigms change in our society, the current debt-crisis and the resource scarcity, destination management organizations (DMO) model has become obsolete and unable to support the shift in the center of gravity which is underway in the market and society structure from a traditional legislative framework of established top-down centralized government power to more decentralized and democratic forms of organization. This shift raises a "decentralization -centralization" dilemma, which in turn serves as a wake-up call for the DMO's not only to rethink their internal logic and boundaries but also the spectrum of stakeholders' engagement in crafting the coexistence design strategy. Drawing on selected theoretical contributions and empirical research the authors seek to debunk the myth that top-down centralized government power is a pre-condition for place brand management success. This study analyses with the aid of the place branding matrix model the embedded governance-collaboration dilemma. In the context of two cases Pompei and Campi Flegrei (Campania) different coexisting place branding network processes are presented to advance understanding how stakeholders co-create value under place-specific conditions. The debt-crisis and resource scarcity justify research of tensions and contradictions encountered in a co-existence strategy design, particularly, the pitfalls manifested by 'messy' place-specific power links. The paper concludes with considerations and suggestions for future research to evaluating the implications of the decentralization continuum on the place branding building process and highlights the urgent need to rethink the governance model for re-configuring business and societal inter-relationships within a coexistence design.

Keywords: Place branding matrix, democratic governance, destination management, coexistence strategy, tourism.


In the era of liquid modernity (Bauman, 2000) people constantly re-define values, boundaries, roles, priorities, power and, consequently, deconstruct "Fordism' solidity", thereby generating social dilemmas as situations in which individual rationality often leads to collective irrationality (Kollock, 1998). The liquid society drives individuals to deconstruct the pillars of society (included authority, hierarchies, roles, etc.) and causes them to engage in a hermeneutic circle, involving amongst others the participation in groups, negotiation, decision making and the formation of coalitions, increasingly, on a temporary basis.

In the early 21st century, new communication technologies afford innovative means of connecting but simultaneously push the envelope for the creation of new parameters which take into account the increasing interdependencies across various boundaries (cultural, organizational, governance, infrastructural) in all spheres of society. Sorokin (1927) and Go and Fenema (2006) indicate that social, cultural and mental mobility expands concomitantly with spatial mobility. Particularly, the different spaces (cognitive, information and social) give affordance, first, to the potential for bridging towards a 'physical-digital fusion'; second, to 'bonding' in non-traditional human-machine relationships thereby stretching the innovative edges of both organizations and individuals (Go & Fenema, 2006). These forces, particularly, the emergence of relationship marketing and the network approach (Ford et al., 2003), cause a shift in the centre of gravity towards decentralization, in turn, stimulating people to participate in decision making 'that matters to them' (Malone, 2004, p. 6). And suggest that current tourism marketing and branding theory incorporate a providerbased, competitive identity centered and transaction-oriented viewpoint. The paradigm shift changes these traditional marketing and management assumptions, fundamentally.

Against the backdrop of the decentralization scenario, Richards and Hall (2000) and Caalders (2003), among others, refer to the 'bankruptcy' of top-down planning power. …

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