Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine how five different multi-level governance (MLG) models affect place branding (PB) performance in Saudi Arabia. Design/methodology/approach: In hierarchical administrative systems, central governments exert control on PB, influencing its effectiveness. While PB as such is widely studied, the effect of MLG on PB performance in centralized administrative systems remains understudied. The study is approached as a multiple case study of nine cities. Findings: The study reveals that different MLG models indeed affect PB performance differently. Direct access to central leadership and resources boosts branding performance, while privatization promotes flexibility with similarly positive effects. Study findings, furthermore, show that some cities are considered 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 branding performance suffers accordingly. Emerging differences in PB performance associated with different MLG models are thus likely to deepen the gap between urban economic winners and losers. Originality/value: This paper introduces five MLG models based on the actors involved in PB, their interactions and their access to resources. For each model, this paper assesses other factors which may influence the effectiveness of PB as well, such as access to the national leadership and staff capacity. This research thereby adds to the literature by identifying specific factors within MLG models influencing PB performance in hierarchical administrative systems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This work was funded primarily by Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (formerly known as the University of Dammam) under [grant number 95483] and supported secondary by the Erasmus Initiative for the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity and Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
© 2023, Abdulrhman Alsayel, Jan Fransen and Martin de Jong.