Why me and place management?

Earlier in the week I did a telephone interview with Emerald Insight, the publishers of our journal (Journal of Place Management and Development). Most of the questions were related to what place management was and how it was evolving as an academic subject, but one of the questions that really got me thinking was why I had personally become involved in it.

One of the major factors behind my interest is, not surprisingly, location related.  I came to work at Manchester Metropolitan University in October 1997, at which time there was already a healthy interest in town centre management (TCM), with most of the world’s researchers of the topic having spent some time at MMU in their career.

Why TCM @ MMU?  Well probably because MMU was the first university (in Europe at least) to offer Retail Management as a degree – and we have, for many years, had geographers present in the business school.  The regular social and intellectual interaction between geographers and marketers has meant there has been a lively group of co-located academic colleagues from different disciplines…so it is no surprise a ‘new’ subject of interest has been born.

Another factor was the Department’s interest in the independent retail sector –  family owned small shops and service businesses – especially those located in town centres. From the research projects I was involved with it became very apparent that the embedding of businesses within their local community could have a positive effect on their sustainability.

In many ways a shop’s future is outside the owner’s hands: if their local economy is not being managed well and the town centre is going into decline, then it’s very difficult for them as an individual operator to do much about it. If the stakeholders with an interest in the town centre get together, then, through collective action, changes can be made.  Changes such as agreeing a common day for late-night opening, publishing a town centre guide or funding a park and ride scheme.

I like place management as I’ve always been the sort of person who, if things aren’t going right, I don’t like to sit around and complain. So I see it as something where everyone can make a difference, not just elected representatives or people that have ‘place manager’ as a job title.

I have just moved into Manchester city centre, across the road from work, which you can see from the cool new Street View from Google Maps.

I have asked to join Manchester City Centre’s Residents’ Forum. I think it’s about time I got involved in place management in a practical way.  The Forum is actively involved in consultations for planning and developments in the city centre as well as busy doing practical things like making improvements to inner city parks.

So, thanks to Emerald for asking me the question “how did you get involved in place management”…obviously it wasn’t planned but then I am a great believer in serendipity.

You can read the full version of the interview in the next issue of the Journal of Place Management and Development or on the Emerald website .

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