Business Engagement and City Branding
The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
There is an abundance of literature on consumer engagement, however, little is known as to how engagement is made by organizations. This study addresses this gap by investigating how city brands specifically, (and organizations in general), can make engagement happen. In the academic literature and in business practice there is no universal understanding of how engagement is developed by organizations in a way that adds to the rich and evolved consumer-based thinking (in marketing, branding, advertising, and other relevant activities). This thesis examines the underlying mechanisms of what make organizations have brands that are successful in their attempts to be engaging. The analysis identifies components of the business engagement model and how they operate in creating and managing successful brands in general and in city branding more specifically. This study defines business engagement as the management system in which leadership creates a vision that drives the creation of a collective culture which in turn adopts innovations for the sake of achieving consistent competitive ability to the entity within which it is applied. The thesis addresses another gap in the literature which is city branding. There is an abundance of literature on what it is, but not a lot of consensus on how cities can do it. There is a need for a universal framework that can be relatively generalized in addressing how city branding can be successfully implemented. Dubai is chosen as the subject matter of this research. Informed by the literature on city branding, marketing, branding, innovation diffusion, and leadership, this thesis adopts a qualitative research approach that uses interviews and documents as the major sources of primary and secondary data. 24 Dubai Government organizations participated in the interviews, and the four main findings are: 1. Leadership, vision, collective culture, innovation, and consistent competitive ability are the ingredients of the business engagement model. 2. City branding is not a promotional activity as commonly perceived, but a business management process that precedes promotion. 3. Leadership plays a major role in the process of city branding (and any other branding context), not as a political promotional tool, but as a business management application that makes brands and not only promotes them. 4. The business engagement model is ubiquitous. Business engagement happens organically whenever there is a brand using situation wherein leadership creates a vision that drives all involved to achieve it. This study supports existing literature on engagement and city branding and expands it to provides a conceptual framework for city managers and planners, leadership entities, researchers, and marketing specialists that contributes to managing city branding and other brand making endeavors.
business engagement, city branding, consumer engagement, United Arab Emirates (UAE), leadership