Emma Björner

Emma Björner


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Works at Stockholm Business School
Visiting address Kräftriket hus 10
Postal address Företagsekonomiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Emma Björner is a PhD Candidate in Business Administration and Marketing. Her PhD dissertation is about place branding, with a focus on the branding of Chinese mega-cities.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • Thesis (Doc) Imagineering Place
    2017. Emma Björner (et al.).

    Cities, regions, nations and other places have in recent decades become active participants in the global competitive economy, and now operate in a global marketplace, competing with other places all over the world for investors, tourists, residents and workforce. As a result, places use marketing and branding strategies and practices to gain reputation and competitive advantage. Chinese cities have, over the past decades, increasingly engaged in branding activities, and even taken the role of spearheads for China in its positioning in the global economy, seen for example in the organization of mega-events. The branding of Chinese cities nevertheless exhibits some differences compared with city branding in the West. 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 focus is on the images and language used in the cities’ branding, and on key political aspects involved in the branding of Chinese mega-cities. The theoretical lens incorporates concepts tied to images, language, imaginaries, ideology and power, and the study relies on an ethnographic, multiple case study approach, including longitudinal fieldwork in China. The findings consist of rich illustrations of the branding of the five Chinese mega-cities, and include an analysis of similar imagery found in all five cities, grouped into economic, international, cultural, social and environmental imaginaries. This shows that city branding in Chinese mega-cities is focused on creating international and competitive cities, while also paying attention to the environment, culture and internal target groups such as residents. A central contribution of this dissertation is the development of the concept ‘imagineering’, used in this study 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 selected elements from the past; and a focus on local populations with the creation of stability and harmony as a central goal. Imagineering is also conceptualized as a policy instrument exercised by a powerful élite, closely intertwined with urban governance, and used to influence people, values, places and, ultimately, city futures.

  • 2014. Per Olof Berg, Emma Björner.

    This book offers an overview and a theoretical conceptualization of the policies, practices and positioning strategies involved in branding Chinese mega-cities. This interdisciplinary book details the economic, cultural and social background of the development of Chinese mega-cities, as well as presenting the mechanisms of governance and urban growth strategies. Therein, the main discussion centres on the contemporary practice of city branding and development in China in relation to the rest of the world. This includes the way stakeholders and actors are engaged in city branding; the 'societal forces' that impact the city branding process; the way cities compete internationally; and how mega-cities build brands to strategically position themselves globally.

  • 2013. Emma Björner. Journal of Place Management and Development 6 (3), 203-226

    Purpose: The aim of the present study is to add to the existing research on online city branding by studying how metropolitan cities are internationally positioned using the Internet and online branding. The focus is on objectives and strategies, method and expression (including five illustrations), and challenges in online city branding.

    Design/methodology/approach: The article relies on a single-case study approach, using the Chinese city of Chengdu as a case and illustration. Methods used are interviews, observations and documentation (including online material).

    Findings: The study illustrates how Chengdu uses online city branding in its international positioning. Chengdu’s online branding is influenced by certain imagery, as well as challenges. Collaboration and endorsement crystalize as central elements in Chengdu’s online city branding.

    Implications: This article and study can be seen as an important element in broadening the understanding for online city branding to international audiences. The study offers insights to practitioners on how online city branding is carried out in a Chinese context and in the city of Chengdu.

    Originality/value: The study can be regarded as an important contribution to an area of practice and research which still is fairly new and unexplored, and an area that hitherto has not been well covered in the international literature.

  • 2012. Emma Björner, Per Olof Berg. International Journal of Event and Festival Management 3 (1), 30-45

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to contribute to our understanding of the underlying rationale for why companies participate in mega-events in general, and in mega-events in emerging economies – such as the 2010 Shanghai Expo – in particular. Of particular interest are the ways that companies use an event to advance their own purposes, and how experiences are created that use aspects of an event setting such as Expo 2010.

    Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on a participatory, ethnographic and longitudinal field study focusing on the VIP section of the Swedish Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, using additional data from other national pavilions and respondents with insight into Expo 2010 and its organization.

    Findings: The study indicates that even though companies operationally used the World Expo and the VIP section in many different ways, an underlying element appears to be to use the event for the “practice of communification”.

    Practical implications: The study provides practitioners with a conceptual framework and tools to manage the co-creation process of experiences at events. This is done by supplying an empirical example from World Expo 2010 and the VIP area of the Swedish pavilion. This is a needed addition to the current knowledge on how customers engage in co-creation of experiences and how companies manage the co-creation process.

    Originality/value: The “communification” concept is used to denote the simultaneous building of community while communicating business-related issues to strengthen and build relationships with customers over time, with exclusivity and co-creation of experiences as important components.

Show all publications by Emma Björner at Stockholm University

Last updated: February 21, 2018

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