Intra-organizational brand resistance and counter-narratives in city branding: a comparative study of three Danish cities

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Purpose: This study aims to contribute to an increased understanding of intra-organizational city brand resistance by identifying and discussing different types of counter-narratives emerging from the political and administrative arenas. Design/methodology/approach: The empirical material consists of secondary data as well as six in-depth semi-structured interviews with Danish mayors and city managers in three different municipalities in Denmark. Findings: Intra-organizational counter-narratives differ from inter-organizational counter-narratives but resemble a number of issues known from extra-organizational resistance. Still, significant differences are found within the political arena: lack of ownership, competition for resources and political conflicts. Lack of ownership, internal competition for resources and distrust of motives play an important role within the administrative arena. Mayors are aware of the needs for continued political support for branding projects but projects are nonetheless realized despite resistance if there is a political majority for it. Research limitations/implications: This study points to the implications of city brand resistance and counter-narratives emerging from the “inside” of the political and administrative arenas in the city, here defined as “intra-organizational counter-narratives”. Practical implications: It is suggested that politicians and municipality staff should be systematically addressed as individual and unique audiences and considered as important as citizens in the brand process. Originality/value: So far little attention has been paid to internal stakeholders within the municipal organization and their impact on the city branding process approached from a narrative perspective.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Market Research
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1001-1018
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Administrative arena
  • Brand resistance
  • City branding
  • Intra-organizational brand resistance
  • Intra-organizational counter-narratives
  • Political arena


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