Citizen involvement, place branding and mega events: insights from Expo host cities

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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to explore the importance and the nature of citizen involvement for the branding of places in relation to Expo events. In particular, the authors analyse the various ways in which residents can be included at specific stages of organizing an Expo—from application through realization of the exhibition to post activities. The theoretical background for the discussion on citizen involvement in place branding is rooted in public management and corporate branding. Consequently, in the empirical part, the authors adopt an institutional perspective on local stakeholders’ involvement. The research method employed in the study was a semi-structured interview. These interviews were conducted with institutional representatives of five European Expo host cities, in order to identify how public institutions responsible for the organization of an Expo (1) perceive the role of citizens in this mega event; (2) employ strategies for citizen involvement in Expo exhibitions; and (3) evaluate barriers, problems and controversies related to the process of involvement. Respondents clearly stated that a sense of community, internal pride and aspirations or a unique collective experience were important reasons to host an Expo in their cities. Based on the survey results, there seemed to have been general agreement on the importance of citizen involvement during the event; however, the respondents’ views differed on the matter of involvement before the event (during the application process). It can also be observed that citizen engagement in the case of Expos is more intense before/during than after the event. Cities who have already hosted an Expo highlighted the beneficial effect that the event had on the community, and stressed the heightened post-Expo satisfaction of citizens, compared with their pre-expo attitudes and expectations.

Keywords

Citizen engagement Participatory place branding Expo Mega events 

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LodzŁódźPoland
  2. 2.Poznan University of Business and EconomicsPoznańPoland

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