Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Studies and Public Affairs


Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs

First Advisor

Dixit, Ashutosh

Second Advisor

Dixit, Ashutosh

Subject Headings

Economic Theory, Marketing


The location where businesses choose to locate or re-locate their businesses, also known as site selection, is an important policy matter for economic development practitioners and academics since significant amount of resources are spent in this area. As places spend a great deal of public dollars marketing their city, region, and state to potential investors and businesses, private sector dollars from business invest a significant amount on land, labor, and capital to get these new facilities and sites up and running. To date, most of the literature as it relates to place image and business site selection decisions examine traditional factors related to the decision-making process. This dissertation presents exploratory research which for the first time summarizes this multi-disciplinary literature and deconstructs its five components into: brand, visual image, reputation, sense of place, and identity. Beyond this, this research continues to open the scholarly conversation on how locations are advertised and sold and how this marketing can affect where businesses locate their headquarters. Using a literature review, interviews, grounded theory, a survey of professionals in the field of site selection, and an analysis of the five components of place image using structural equation modeling, this research quantitatively investigates the association of place image on site selection of headquarters. In all, the analysis found that brand, visual image, and reputation have a positive effect on place image. And place image had a positive direct effect on site selection decision. Also, brand and reputation showed a stronger effect in east and west coast states, and reputation was more important for small and medium sized companies and public companies. The measures for sense of place and identity were not found significant in the model. since place image is a complicated concept and hard to quantify. In the end, this research found that the concepts of place image are complicated, highly personal, and difficult to change. Through empirically linking place image components to headquarters site selection decision making this dissertation creates a valid argument for what economic development practitioners and academics have known but not been able to tangibly measure: that place image matters and it can influence the business of site selection.

Included in

Marketing Commons