Welcome to our PhD colloquia series, where we highlight the groundbreaking research of our PhD students. Each time, we will delve into the work of different students, showcasing their innovative contributions to the field of urban development. Join us as we explore a diverse range of topics and gain insight into their academic research.
The second student to present in the Spring PhD colloquia series is Abdulrhman Alsayel, from Saudi Arabia. His second published paper, titled “Linking city branding to urban governance models: Saudi Cities as a case study”, aims to examine how multi-level governance (MLG) models affect the performance of place branding (PB), using Saudi Arabia as a case study.
The presented chapter highlights the increasing use of place branding (PB) to achieve policy objectives and explores the understudied impact of multi-level governance (MLG) on PB performance in centralized administrative systems, using a multiple case study of nine cities to examine how MLG models affect PB performance within the context of the country's national transformation program.
The main conclusions show that:
- MLG models affect PB performance.
- In Saudi Arabia, direct access to a central leadership and resources aids the performance of PB, while privatization enables flexibility of PB.
- Study findings furthermore show that some cities are too big to fail. Cities such as Riyadh and NEOM are of prime importance and receive plenty of resources and leadership attention, while others are considered peripheral, are under-resourced, and therefore their branding performance also suffers.
- Emerging differences in PB performance associated with different MLG models are thus likely to deepen the gap between urban economic winners and losers.
Xuelei Zhang, one of the brilliant PhD students at our institution, was the first student to present her research in the Spring PhD colloquia series. Hailing from China, Xuelei's work focuses on an important and timely topic: Urban Heritage Renewal in China from the Perspective of Local Government Policy Innovation, seeking to understand how these policies can be used to drive urban heritage renewal efforts.
The PhD colloquia presentation focused on a chapter from the thesis that explored community-initiated urban conservation in mainland China. The research analyzed the effect of political opportunity structures on this conservation through community-government interaction, using event-sequence analysis and comparative case studies.
The main conclusions show that:
- The events of community-initiated urban conservation in both cases developed in similar sequences but ended with different conservation approaches and scopes of conserved heritage;
- The community initiative of both cases originated from residents’ discontent over untransparent demolition; however, the interaction between the community and government evolved in divergent ways in two cases:
- one changed from avoidance and concession to co-creation and stimulation,
- while the other one evolved from repression to concession;
- The different trajectories of urban conservation and the mode transforming of community-government interaction in two cases can be explained by the political opportunity structures, and two functions of factors are summarized: deadlock breaking and results consolidating.