“Creative obstructions” and more: On cross sectorial mega-event collaboration outcomes

Carina Bregnholm Ren, Morten Krogh Petersen

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Abstract: ATLAS, Special track 6: Reinventing the local in tourism landscapes “Creative obstructions” and more? On cross sectorial mega-event collaboration outcomesCarina Ren (ren@ccg.aau.dk) & Morten Krogh Petersen (mkp@learning.aau.dk), Aalborg UniversityIn May of 2014, Copenhagen was the host of the yearly Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). In this paper, we discuss how the public-private co-creation set-up of this mega-event can be seen as a network project simultaneously enacting global state competitiveness and local place and identity. According to Cerny (1997), the dynamics of political globalization have altered the roles of the state so that it “is no longer able to act as a decommodifying hierarchy (i.e., taking economic activities out of the market). It must act more and more as a collective commodifying agent – (i.e., putting activities into the market) – and even as a market actor itself (p. 267, italics in the original). Short of cases (in a Danish context at least), which document the varied effects of state competitiveness through the blurring of public and private boundaries, we decided to engage with ESC 2014 to explore its set-up, described by the partners as a containing a number of creative obstructions in order to create “much more than a song contest”. Through fieldwork and collaboration with the public and private ESC partners, we describe how the mega-event linked corporate, municipal, regional and national activities and interests in new ways. Also, the event was to engage the public as co-creators of the week-long event itself but also, importantly, of much longer-lasting and broader outcomes. This was achieved through a number of outreach schemes within tourism, education, industrial development and sustainability in sub-events, collaborating with an unconventional array of actors such as NGOs, schools and a private real estate company hosting the venue. One outcome of this collaboration was the same-sex ‘Wonderful Weddings’ events offered by the municipality in collaboration with Wonderful Copenhagen to celebrate and accommodate for a large Eurovision gay segment. We discuss how in spite of close collaboration, common values such as tolerance and sustainability heralded by all stakeholders became not only a creative but rather an actual obstruction.Through the case of ESC 2014, we point to a number of outcomes of what Cerny and others have described as a development towards the marketization of the state and the state as a ‘marketizer’. We argue that at least in relation to events, the forces of a competition state are not singularly homogenizing, but also lead to increased heterogeneity (Kaspersen & Thorsager 2010). This point may also be transferred to the field of city branding, and challenges the idea that globalization and associated increased competition between cities unequivocally leads to uniformity (see Ooi 2014).ReferenceCerny, P. G. (1997), Paradoxes of the Competition State: The Dynamics of Political Globalization. Government and Opposition, 32: 251–274. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-7053.1997.tb00161.x. Kaspersen, L. B & L. Thorsager (2010): Responding to Globalisation: Changing the State Strategy from Infrastructural Power to Authoritarian Liberal Power. In: M. Böss (ed.) The Nation-State in Transformation: Economic Globalisation, Institutional Mediation and Political Values. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, p.247-267 Ooi, C. S. (2014) The Making of the Copy-cat City: Accreditation Tactics in Place Branding. In P. O. Berg & E. Björner (eds.) Branding Chinese Mega-Cities: Policies, Practices and Positioning. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, Incorporated, p. 232–248
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventATLAS Annual Conference 2014: Tourism, Travel and Leisure Sources of Wellbeing, Happiness and Quality of Life? - Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 22 Oct 201424 Oct 2014


ConferenceATLAS Annual Conference 2014


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