A potentially attractive way for cities to maintain economic growth while reducing environmental harm is to let their production structures undergo industrial transformation, a process otherwise known as ecological modernization. This attraction lies mainly in the fact that residents, visitors and corporations prefer clean air, water and soil as a milieu to invest their resources in. Municipal governments can use city branding as an important instrument to force off such a transformation, if it is taken as a point of departure for the adoption of a strategy to which they are deeply committed and for the benefit of which they are willing to deploy their various policy instruments. In the literature on ecological modernization, five different pathways for industrial transformation in cities have been identified and these have been matched with city branding practices. In this contribution, the abovementioned conceptual framework is further detailed and specified to account for a variety in types of secondary and tertiary sector industries. In the empirical sections, all cities in the Chinese provinces Hubei and Hunan, where the transition from manufacturing to services is typically most pressing, are examined in terms of their industrial structures, pathways to industrial transformation and city branding choices. The results indicate, inter alia, that further subdivision of the secondary and tertiary economic sectors is useful in understanding key features of the transformation, and that different sub-pathways affect tradeoffs between economic expansion and ecological preservation differently. Branding practices among Hubei and Hunan cities also indicate that some industries are more easily embraced and utilized than others in establishing brand identities and adopting popular city labels.

, , , ,
doi.org/10.3390/su11215992, hdl.handle.net/1765/121462
Sustainability (Switzerland)
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Han, M. (Meiling), de Jong, M. (Martin), & Jiang, M. (Minghui). (2019). City branding and industrial transformation from manufacturing to services: Which pathways do cities in Central China follow?. Sustainability (Switzerland), 11(21). doi:10.3390/su11215992