Framing the Sources of Image of a Local Area through Outcome-Based Dynamic Performance Management


This article investigates the place image concept. It aims to frame major factors impacting on the image of a local area and to suggest associated measures. The adoption of a dynamic approach enables the exploration offer major factors: the level of tourism development, the fit of contextual attributes, the strength of identity, and the level of synergy between public and private sectors. The emerging conceptual model identifies twelve performance indicators driving interdependencies between outputs and outcomes. Such a model eventually is applied to the “Taormina-Etna district” – located in Sicily (Italy) – with the intent to discussing its effectiveness.


It is important to understand the processes that lead to local area success. National or local Bprosperity is created, not inherited […] nations have become more, not less, important^ (Porter 2011: 1). Nations, regions, cities and local areas compete on a global scale (Begg 1999; Cavenago and Trivellato 2010; Porter 1995); and governments increasingly recognize that they require a new way of assessing identity and strategies, if they want to prosper sustainably. Ever since domestic firms have been looking to expand their markets overseas, country image has become a crucial success factor. Governments are called to manage their country reputation and local areas institutions have to act alike, if they want to attract business ventures and tourists or to export local products.

Managing the image ofa local area entails the challenge to first, frame the sources of
that image, secondly, understand what the driving factors are, and thirdly, identify some leverage points suitable for sustainable public policies. It demands for an outcome-
based performance management system which allows decision-makers to measure the Boutput^ or the amount of products and services completed or delivered, as well as to capture the Boutcome,^ the results or the consequences of service delivery that are important to the public (Ho and Ni 2005). BOutcomes or effects, intended or unintended, gross or net, are everything beyond outputs. Since effects or outcomes are realized by a range of organizations, public sector performance measurement systems should not just be organized at the individual organizational level but at the level of a policy field or a product/service chain as well^ (Bouckaert and Halligan 2007:16). The majority of studies about place-image relationships point at the national level and focus on marketing. A common explanation lies in the fact that the image of a country is not under the marketer’s control – unlike product or in corporate brand – but it has a big impact. BIn fact, there remains much misunderstanding and many commentators and some consultants and academics still interpret ‘place branding’ as simply the applica- tion of product promotion, public relations, and corporate identity activities for countries, cities, or regions, as though they are mere commodities^ (Morgan et al. 2004:1). As Matarazzo (2012: 38) pointed out, despite a significant amount of works
published in the field, only a few scholars have addressed the country image from a managerial and institutional perspective. Moreover, there is a paucity of studies using qualitative techniques; in fact, they have mostly employed quantitative approach by which to measure a limited set ofcategories resulting in a lack ofexplanatory research.

This paper aims to explain the sources of the image of a local area, through a case study. To this end, the paper applies an inter-institutional outcome-based Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) perspective to understand what are the driving factors of the image of a tourism destination. DPM is an approach that applies System Dynamics (SD) methodology (Forrester 1961; Forrester 1969; Sterman 2000)to performance management systems (Bianchi 2016). The structure ofthe paper is the following: after the introduction, the second section investigates the concept of place image, and also provides a literature review. It discusses the relevant theoretical frameworks, highlighting their major limitations. In light of those limitations, section 3 argues the case for an outcome-based inter-institu- tional approach, and section 4 outlines the DPM approach. Section 5 introduces the case study BTaormina-Etna district,^ compares the district’s results with the overall performance of the local area, identifies performance drivers and proposes measures. Section 6 discusses the DPM chart and reveals managerial evidence. The concluding section elucidates implications of the findings and outlines policy suggestions.

Vignieri, Vincenzo. 2019. “Framing the Sources of Image of a Local Area through Outcome-Based Dynamic Performance Management.” Public Organization Review 19 (2): 249–271. doi:10.1007/s11115-018-0402-1.

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