Event Portfolio Design: Exploring Strategic Approaches to Major Events in New Zealand
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One of the strategies which is increasingly applied by cities across the world in an ever-lasting desire to promote and capitalise on their competitive identity, is the hosting of large-scale events of different genres. In an attempt to become an attractive event place, many cities have progressed from a random and eclectic choice of events toward the development of portfolios of events.Despite the increasing popularity of an event portfolio strategy in the literature and among city event planners, there is a lack of developed theoretical concepts and empirical evidence in this area. To address this gap, a qualitative multiple case study research was conducted in three cities in New Zealand, namely Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. The thesis explores critical aspects of the portfolio programming. It analyses the rationale behind utilising major events, strategic portfolio approaches, compositional structures of the portfolios in the cities, roles that events can play within a portfolio, design factors that influence events programming, and the development of an overall portfolio synergy. The research is grounded in critical realist ontology and pragmatist epistemology. Critical realism helps to uncover a reality of processes that determine portfolio design. A portfolio of events exists in a real context. It is shaped by real processes of planning and decision-making. Pragmatist epistemology directs this research in two ways. Firstly, pragmatism calls for the application of an action-oriented approach. The research becomes a resource for informing human practices and suggesting possibilities for solving problems in the field of planned events. Secondly, pragmatism admits context-dependence of knowledge. Thus, the research serves as an important source of valuable insights, rather than a cradle of a universal truth. The research methods included semi-structured interviews with event planners from the city councils? departments and relevant council controlled organisations responsible for major events programming. Related public documents were also analysed to complement the emerged insights from the interviews. Thematic analysis of the collected data was carried out to identify and analyse key research themes. The thesis revealed an interplay of four processes in portfolio design that determine its nature, rationale, compositional variety and synergetic values. These are Imagineering, Approaching, Composing and Synergising. Imagineering directs the creation of a general vision on major events and their role in the construction of a desirable place identity. Approaching guides the elaboration of a strategic framework to utilise major events in accordance with the stated objectives and expected outcomes. Composing focuses on the compositional structure of event portfolios. Synergising is responsible for the maintenance of an overall balance in a portfolio. The findings of the research make an important contribution to event studies and event portfolio theory. The thesis advances an understanding of the strategic role portfolios of major events play in city development. The research offers new perspectives on portfolio design problematics and uncovers critical aspects of the design ?technology?. Practical implications of the research relate to public event strategy and policy development, portfolio approaching forms and strategic event management within urban contexts.