Heads of the Institute of Place Management and Journal of Place Management and Development visited National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia)

 

By Kirill Rozhkov FIPM

From the 17th to 21st of October 2016, leading international experts in the fields of place management, place marketing, and place branding Cathy Parker (Director of the Institute of Place Management, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Place Management and Development, professor at Manchester Metropolitan University) and Dominic Medway (Senior Fellow of the Institute of Place Management, Аcademic Editor of the Journal of Place Management and Development, professor at Manchester Metropolitan University) visited the Higher School of Economics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Oct. 19, they gave a lecture titled “Place Management: Theory and Practice” and a masterclass titled “Place management practices: What can be learnt from Russia and what can Russia learn?”at HSE Moscow’s Department of Business and Management. On Oct. 20, the two British professors conducted a workshop for academics.In total, there were 73 Russian participants, including 52 students, 9 HSE researchers and teachers and 12 external visitors at the visit events.The lecture “Place Management: Theory and Practice” was dedicated to the positioning of place management as a young but rapidly spreading approach in both research and practice. In a language understandable to a Russian audience, the approach aims to address common issues faced by public and municipal administrations using concepts and tools from business management.

 

Place management has four main principles. The first one is its focus on specific and narrowly-defined problems. Prof. Parker gave an interesting overview of the history of British retail and, in addition, of the development of high streets and public spaces since the middle of the 20th century. Technology shifts such as the spread of household appliances and cars allowed people to store more goods at home and reduced the frequency of purchases. This stimulated the growth of hypermarkets in suburb areas and the reduction in the number of  small retail businesses in city centers. As a result, footfall on the high streets has decreased, and public spaces have become empty and deserted. The situation worsened in 1970s-80s due to the industrial crisis, and then again at the  beginning of the 21st century, because of the growth of e-commerce (the UK is world’s leader in e-commerce). Thus, the revitalization of public spaces and high streets became the core problem for both urban communities and researchers.  
The second principle of place management is collaboration between governments and other stakeholders in place development. In place management philosophy, public administrations are not singular actors even if it they are elected, and they represent the residents’ interests. In Prof. Parker’s opinion, a wide range of stakeholders (retailers, tenants, residents) are interested in the quality of public spaces located near private areas no less than authorities. On the other hand, local budgets are limited during crisis periods, and this forces authorities to search for alternative resources.

 

 

As a consequence, a managerial function, one more typical for business than for public policy, becomes vital. Attracting resources and co-opting their owners becomes more important than regulating. This makes the local government only one of the stakeholders, while local communities (and not only citizens) become equal partners motivated by commitment and a sense of ownership rather than rules and norms. Partnerships of local stakeholders are considered the main place management actors.
The third principle of place management is a focus on measurable results, as well as taking advantage of opportunities for achieving these results in a limited time period. Prof. Parker presented the most recent results of an enormous ongoing research project titled High Street UK2020: Vitality and Viability. This research is being conducted by the Institute of Place Management (Manchester) on behalf of city partnerships in North England and Ireland. At the first stage (desk research), the researchers identified 201 factors of city vitality. These factors were grouped by their impacts on vitality and controllability. Arranging the factors into clusters revealed the top 25 factors, including those that have the most significant effect on city center development and can be managed. This list was presented to city partnerships as the priority of their attention and activities.
The fourth and final principle of place management is the integration of all professional competences required for city development and the multidisciplinary approach in research. The vitality/viability factors concern many urban professions as well as academic fields. Prof. Parker pointed out three processes provided by current place practices and studies. Place making (architecture, urbanism and urban planning and development, construction, landscape design, etc.) creates a physical environment of place. Place maintenance (safety, law enforcement, housing and utilities, public transport, etc.) is responsible for the exploitation of the physical environment. Place marketing (marketing and branding, PR and events, digital tools for city management, tourism, etc.) provides for place promotion and place communications at large. 
The four listed principles answer the key question of place management: What can and should the stakeholders of place development do together to achieve this development?

 

Thus, place management was presented to the audience as both a new application of managerial science and a specific managerial practice, one which does not make claims to all-inclusiveness and does not replace the existing fields of study and professions, but rather provides a narrow focus on the practical needs of specific places and specific points of the coordinated stakeholders’ efforts.
The Journal of Place Management and Development and the Institute of Place Management are academic and expert institutions, respectively, that support this scientific and practical field.A multidisciplinary nature and practical orientation are the primary requirements for papers submitted to the journal, while the combination of research and practical experience is the key principle of the Institute
The participants of the Institute are usually practitioners interested in having research conducted on their places and researchers with practically-oriented projects. However, the Institute is open to all forms of partnership. Professor Parker ended his lecture by kindly inviting everyone who is interested in the subject to collaborate with the Institute of Place Management.
The feedback from the audience gathered after the lecture was highly positive. The lecture was characterized as very informative, providing comprehensive knowledge on place management and place marketing and their differences from adjacent fields of knowledge; participants also reported that it enabled them to understand the subject of the Journal of Place Management and Development and the professional profile of the Institute of Place Management. 

The ideas and methods described in the lecture, in the opinion of the participants, were presented at a highly professional level, providing grounds for further research. Listeners noticed a common professional language and some similarities between the Russian and British cases. They also praised the simplicity with which they absorbed the information and the good explanation of theoretical material using vivid examples from real life. Requests were also made for further problematisation. 

 

The purpose of the master class “Place management practices: What can be learnt from Russia and what can Russia learn?” was to compare Russian and foreign place management practices in order to identify opportunities for experience sharing. The key speakers were leading Russian experts in the field of urban management, territory marketing and branding and tourism. Each presentation was followed by comments and questions from British colleagues and an open discussion. The master class was moderated by Konstantin Khomutskii, senior lecturer at the HSE Department of Foreign Languages.
Yury Shchegol'kov, vice-dean of the Faculty of International Tourism, Sports and Hotel Business at the Financial University under the Government of Russian Federation (Moscow), made a report on "Low-budget Marketing of Small Russian Cities". In his report, he shared his experience of conducting alongside his students complex studies of the tourist potential of small, historically significant towns.
The research is aimed at developing low-budget promotion programs in order to increase tourist inflow. The project was launched at the beginning of 2014 and to date has covered 44 small Russian towns. The proposed solutions do not require high levels of spending, but can significantly increase the number of visitors and cash flow. The most successful projects will increase the annual tourist inflow from two to seventy thousand people.
In the ensuing discussion, our British colleagues pointed out that there are some similarities in the development of small towns in Russia and, for example, in Northern England and Northern Ireland. They too are facing deindustrialization and depopulation, and they often rely on the development of tourism. In both cases, the idea of low expenses leading to substantial positive effects for the towns is especially remarkable. The problem of conflicts between locals and tourists also turned out to be shared by both. This problem can be solved only after residents realise that they benefit from the tourism. Thus, the utility of place management as a tool for coordinating the interests of various stakeholders is obvious in both Great Britain and Russia.
Natalya Belyakova, Director of Regional Marketing and PR Department of Domina Group in Russia (St. Petersburg), in her report "Place Marketing Through the Hotelier's Eyes (Domina Group’s case)" positioned the hotel chain as a global network with local focus. Based on analysis of the demand for place from both tourists and residents, the hotel chain offers customized products to meet the needs of both groups. Involvement in place marketing activities and support of official initiatives makes the business not only the partner and co-sponsor, but also the beneficiary of place marketing.

 

 

In her comments, Prof. Parker characterised the idea proposed and realised by Domina Group as very useful for places, especially for poor local communities. Prof. Medway mentioned that the adaptation of a corporate strategy to a location (place sensitivity) is not very typical for businesses and unique for hotel chains, which typically standardize their products.
The report by Ivan Mitin, Deputy Head of Department at the Moscow Agency for Area Development by Means of Culture (CC "Ivanovsky",Moscow), was titled "Towards Place Branding of Distant Moscow City Areas". The speaker described his experience of developing projects aimed at involving non-traditional objects in cultural tourism, creating new symbols of Moscow and increasing inhabitants’ awareness of attractions in the newer remote areas of the city. Considering branding in the context of cultural and humanitarian geography, I. I. Mitin stated that the creation of new attractions leads to the formation and promotion of local identity and new urban brands.

 

 

In his comment, Prof. Medway used figures of speech to express the two main ideas of the report: "There is no place like home" and "Home is where the heart is". The work of the agency, in his opinion, is an attempt to increase attachment to places by reminding people of the important and beautiful things associated with them. 
Evgeny Nikonov, Head of Exhibitions at the Museum of the History of Brewing in Cheboksary, shared his experience with attracting visitors. The museum is one of two such museums currently existing in Europe. Despite the fact that his exposition is located in the same building as a beer restaurant, the purpose of the museum is to develop and promote brewing culture in Russia, not to generate cash flow. Visitors of the museum come from the cities and towns of the Volga region, but the museum aims to attract visitors from St. Petersburg and Moscow. To achieve this goal, new solutions related to communication channels, points of sale and marketing as a whole are needed. 

 

 

Professor Medway raised the question of how long visitors stayed in the museum. After receiving the answer ‘40 minutes’, he suggested that a visit to the museum could be combined with two or three other tourist attractions in Cheboksary in order to fill up a significant portion of a tourist’s day.
The report by Sofia Shkolnik, the special project manager of the Regional Development Department of Publishing House "Arguments and Facts" (Moscow), was dedicated to the promotion of tourist destinations and urban projects in print media. The newspaper, which has a multi-million audience, successfully competes on the media market using various formats (infographics, quizzes, puzzles, and long-form journalism) that engage readers and create important or unusual content.

 

 

Prof. Parker mentioned that, apart from marketing and advertising professionals, ordinary local residents can also promote their cities and regions and influence place perceptions. The speaker responded that the newspaper organizes meetings and discussions with locals from which it generates information for promotional materials. For residents, these events provide a unique opportunity for communication and socialisation. Professor Medway noted a similarity between the newspaper’s varied ways of presenting promotional materials and advertising campaigns in Manchester, which involve not only visual images but also tastes, smells and tactile experiences (sensitive marketing).
Alexey Chechulin, professor at St. Petersburg State University’s Advertising Department, spoke about the most sensational city branding project in Russia: "Perm’ as a cultural capital". Residents of the city negatively perceived this attempt to introduce new patterns of city life and city development and to impose new symbols and meanings. This led Prof. Chechulin to conclusion that place branding can not be successful without citizens’ involvement and support.

 

 

Prof. Parker noted that resistance on the part of residents to attempts to "reinvent" their city is often found in other countries as well, so the need to engage residents is obvious. She was interested in whether the displeased residents of Perm proposed any constructive alternative. According to Prof. Chechulin, in any city there is a unique local life, participants in this life and places in which it is concentrated, but this fact was taken advantage of neither in the project nor in the opposition to it.
In the final part of the master class, Prof. Medway gave a short lecture on the theory of place marketing. Prof. Parker summarised the discussion of the Russian cases, thanked the participants for the opportunity to learn about the management practices of Russian places and to compare them with global practices. A quick comparative analysis revealed both similarities and differences. A deeper study will be conducted in the near future and its results will be published in the Journal of Place Management and Development.

 

The feedback from the Russian participants of the master class demonstrated that the event allowed the experts to discuss the results of their own practical work, to visualise local initiatives on a global scale, to exchange views about current trends in place management and place marketing with world-class experts and to accept their valuable comments. The discussion between Russian experts, which arose during the course of the master class, also turned out to be very interesting. 
The purpose of the workshop on Oct. 20 was to promote an increase in the number of publications by Russian authors in international peer-reviewed journals.

 

First, Prof. Medway, using the case of Journal of Place Management and Development as an example, introduced participants to the basic requirements of journals, features of the review process, typical reasons for rejection, and, accordingly, to the rules of academic work.
Then, using this information, each participant was given the opportunity to play the role of a reviewer of his or her neighbour’s paper.

The participants were given 20 minutes to form their opinions and present their reports. After each report, Profs. Parker and  Medway, who had read the articles before the workshop, gave their comments and recommendations to the authors.
In this way, each participant received feedback on his or her paper from several sources and further had the optional opportunity to consult individually with the editors. 
The final task for everyone was to formulate and present the idea of his or her paper in three sentences and then receive final feedback from the editors. 
The working meeting at the St. Petersburg campus of HSE was organized in the same way. Teachers from the "Experience Economy" Master's programme presented the abstracts of their future articles. The editors supported their main research directions and gave important feedback, which was very inspiring for the participants. For example, Valery Gordin, Julia Trabskaya, Elena Zelenskaya and Svetlana Knyazeva presented papers on the development of research in the field of gastronomic tourism. Marina Matetskaya and Artem Nikolaev discussed the issue of the usability of tourist sites. Ksenia Kuzmina and Ekaterina Shishova presented on the study of the attractiveness of museums and parks for tourists (the findings of projects by the Laboratory of Economics of Culture).

 

Summing up the results of the workshops, the moderators gave a high overall assessment of the level of the presented materials and wished the authors success in the revision process.
The workshop also received a high evaluation from participants. Because it was conducted by individuals who make decisions regarding the approval or rejection of submitted papers, they were seen as experts of the highest authority; and the opportunity to receive such specific and frank advice firsthand was invaluable.
The editors of JPMD brought to light some of the professional secrets in academic writing and in the reviewing process, knowledge of which will doubtless increase one’s chances of being published.  

 

The involvement of all participants in the peer reviewing exercise, the opportunity to formulate ideas for how the papers could be improved, present their conclusions before their colleagues and discuss the results turned out to be very successful.

 

Participants mentioned their improved understanding of the logic and structure of their papers, the creation of a friendly atmosphere and their increased motivation to continue working as important products of the workshop. 
All in all, the two days of Profs. Cathy Parker and Dominic Medway’s visit indisputably turned out to be useful for the academic, teaching and expert activities of the teachers and researchers at HSE and partner universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Participants and organizers of the visit hope that the cooperation between the Higher School of Economics, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Institute of Place Management and the Journal of Place Management and Development will be continued.
On Nov. 9, Radio Mediametrix’s interview with C. Parker concerning the visit was aired.These first public comments of the invited professors as well as the response of Julia Clark, Vice-President of Manchester Metropolitan University and Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law, which she conveyed to the organisers by e-mail, inspire positive expectations. An agreement was reached about the publishing of a special edition of the Journal of Place Management and Development dedicated to the managerial practices of Russian places. The organisers will also be enthusiastic about supporting the activities of the Institute of Place Management in Russia.

The organizers are grateful to the following individuals for their support during the visit: Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management of HSE Prof. Nikolay Filinov, Vice-Dean Prof. Irina Volkova, Director of HSE in St. Petersburg Prof. Sergey Kadochnikov, Vice-Director Prof. Valery Gordin, Head of the Department of Company Marketing of HSE Prof. Olga Oyner, Head of Master's program Experience Economy: Hospitality and Tourism Management (Moscow campus) Dr. Marina Predvoditeleva , Dean of the St. Petersburg School of Economics and Management of HSE in St. Petersburg Prof. Elena Rogova, Senior Researcher in HSE’s Laboratory of Culture Economics of in St. Petersburg Yulia Trabskaya, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages of HSE Dr. Konstantin Khomutskii, trainee researcher of HSE’s Laboratory of Culture Economics in St. Petersburg Elena Zelenskaya, manager of the Faculty of Business and Management Svetlana Bityay, students of Master's program Experience Economy: Hospitality and Tourism Management (Moscow campus) Alevtina Vladimirova and Sofia Kotova.

Special thanks to Associate Professor of Management Department of HSE in St. Petersburg Dr. Natalya Belyakova, project manager of the Publishing House "AIF" Sofia Shkolnik, as well as students of HSE’s “Experience Economy” Master's programme Sofia Kotova and Ksenia Stafievskaya for their assistance with simultaneous translation at the workshop.
Responsible for conducting the visit from the Faculty of business and management of HSE Professor of Department of Company Marketing Kirill Rozhkov