An Organizational Perspective on Space and Place Branding

Palgrave Macmillan
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International Place Branding Yearbook 2010, 2010, 1, pp. 3 - 11
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Today, it is commonplace to say that we live in what has been called a society of organizations (Perrow 1991), one in which questions of power and control exercised by organizations become crucial. One consequence of this is the ubiquity of theories of organization that focussed on what economists had glossed as the "firm" - without really attending too much to what actually transpired within the great variety of organizations that this term might cover - as well as those many organizations that it might not cover. Economics was interested in the idea of a free market. Initially, the firm was seen as the home of hierarchy - the alternative to markets (Williamson 1975). But the more society, economics and organizations were studied, the greater became the gloss on what occurred within the firm: to accommodate networks, alliances, communities of practice, human and non-human assemblages, rhizomes ... until the idea of free market exchange became the exception, not the norm. This shift in perspective has important implications: free market models, known as neoclassical economics, implied that rational actors made decisions based on economic calculations. The social and the political were eliminated from the economic, as well as the cognitive, limits that produce "bounded rationality" (Simon 1982). Against the sterility of the models thus produced, organization theory, which began its career fixated on bureaucracy, developed various antithetical models. Central to all of these are notions of nonnecessity and of choice.
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