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Keeping Pace with the Digital Transformation of Place

Keegan, Brendan (2021) Keeping Pace with the Digital Transformation of Place. In: A Research Agenda for Place Branding. Elgar Research Agendas . Edward Elgar. ISBN 978 1 83910 284 4

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Abstract

This chapter provides a reflection of digital transformation in place branding research by way of three facets of place management, i.e., place marketing, making and maintenance. To make sense of the myriad of place studies that consider digital transformation, prior works are subject to a systematic literature review procedure. Thematic alignment of relevant research offers a chance to reflect on scholarly interpretation of the influence of digital transformation in the three facets, identifying relevant gaps, and offering future research directions. The place marketing category is the most populous of the three with the majority of work focusing on the impact of social media activity. The placemaking category proved to be an emergent field where notable contributions are being made at the interface where digital platforms are being used to engage communities with a view to enhancing social wellbeing. Lastly, maintenance is a narrow theme by comparison, where studies show how digital solutions are being applied to enhance users interaction with places. Critically, results indicate that whilst digital transformation is prevalent in the field, research into the longer-term impacts is limited. Additionally, investigations of digital transformation often appears as a notional add-on to empirical works with little interrogation of wider impact on the wider range of place stakeholders. Moreover, the lack of work which examines the detriment caused by digital transformation is a notable absence. Hence, by using the three thematic functions of place management, this chapter aims to offer a viable path to future contributions. The chapter concludes with a future research agenda in digital place branding research suggesting three key areas: artificial intelligence and machine learning, automation, and sentiment analyses.

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