The aim of this dissertation is to contribute to our knowledge of the internal-political aspects of place branding, using field studies of the imagery used in city branding practices in five Chinese mega-cities, namely Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Chongqing. The findings comprise rich illustrations of the branding of five Chinese mega-cities, and show that city branding in China is focused on creating international and competitive cities, while also paying attention to the environment, culture and internal target groups such as residents. A main contribution of this study is the development of the concept ‘imagineering’, used to conceptualize key political aspects of city branding in Chinese mega-cities. Imagineering contains three main elements, namely local adaptations of national directives, policies, plans and concepts; a strong future orientation while also accentuating elements from the past; and a focus on local populations and the creation of stability and harmony as a central goal. Imagineering is also conceptualized as a policy instrument exercised by a powerful élite, intertwined with urban governance, and used to influence people, values, places and, ultimately, city futures.
Emma Björner is a researcher in marketing at Stockholm Business School.
Doctoral Thesis in Business Administration at Stockholm University, Sweden 2017