Place and Place Management

by Ares Kalandides

I was browsing through the site of the Institute of Place Management to understand how they define it and found the following definiton (which I re-write in my own words):

Place Management can be understood as a proactive intervention process in the evolution of places with the aim to help them  meet the changing needs of those that use them.

This “may be community development, regeneration, management, marketing, economic development or any permutation of these but the aim is the same – to improve a distinct area or destination for the benefit of its users. This is the essence of place management – the process of making places better.”

What may be of particular interest to geographers is the definition of place as a location that has meaning for people.

I must admit that I like this definition of place, because it places people in the centre of the concept. Of course it opens several larger issues: If places have different meaning to different people – which they are bound to have – how can place management answer to all of them? For me this is the realm of politics. I sometimes doubt whether the word management is fit to describe the actual process, which is one of conflict, negotiations and compromises. It includes relations of power at different levels. Management simply sounds too consensual to my ears. This is probably why the IPM defines “many users” as the first of the four challenges of Place Management. The other three are: many partners; sustainability; support.

The question that remains to be answered is, how does Place Branding fit into this? Isn’t the idea behind it the same, i.e. to make places better? And if the answer is yet, then better for whom?

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