Policies, Practices and Positioning
Edited by Per Olof Berg and Emma Björner
Chapter 3: Urban brand systems: an example from the Bohai Sea Economic Zone
In China today, the agglomeration of large cities into economic zones is becoming increasingly important as a means of managing rapid urbanization in China, and as a means of handling increased competition between cities due to globalization. This rapid urbanization also accelerates competition for resources between cities. In this context, it is imperative to construct systems of cooperation and exchange between major cities in order to secure cooperation (OECD, 2006). The development of urban agglomerates can be seen as one way to accomplish this, since collaboration between cities in agglomerates eases the competitive pressure on the individual city, and increases the competitiveness of the agglomerate as a whole. However, the opening and globalization of the Chinese economy means that competition and cooperation between cities is not only about economic resources and urban hard power, but also about urban soft power, including urban brands and systems of related brands. Urban agglomerates can be seen as a particular form of mature, spatial, urban organization, i.e., huge urban systems with multiple cores centring on specific axes where specified conditions are likely to be found (Gottman, 1961). In China today, there is a tendency for urban agglomerates to develop a portfolio of city brands related to the hierarchy of the cities in the agglomerate, in order to achieve the desired competitive advantages. In this way, the creation of a joint system of city brands can also promote the integration of cities in the urban agglomerate, and thus become more competitive.
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