chapter  3
16 Pages

The Geography of the Experience Economy in Denmark: Employment Change and Location Dynamics in Attendance-based Experience Industries

WithSøren Smidt-Jensen, Christine Benna Skytt & Lars Winther

According to Amin and Thrift (2002, p. 70) and Pine and Gilmore (1999, p. 2), increasing

competition in the market means that “goods and services are no longer enough” and that

producers must differentiate their products by transforming them into “experiences” which

engage the consumer. The same process is arguably affecting cities and regions worldwide

as they brand themselves into experiences for residents and visitors alike (Richards, 2001).

Much of the “experience creation” that is presently taking place is driven by an aspiration

of public authorities to develop the productive resources of their regions or cities, as tra-

ditional sources of income and job creation decline. In recent years, policy-makers and

planners throughout Scandinavia have embraced the rise of “the experience economy”

as they believe it to bring new perspectives for urban and regional development, also in

peripheral cities and regions (Sørensen et al., 2007; Sundbo & Bærenholdt, 2007; Vaekst-

fonden, 2007; Regeringen, 2003; Manniche & Jensen, 2006; Haraldsen et al., 2004;

Mossberg, 2003; KK Stiftelsen, 2003; Lassen et al., 2009). It seems that the idea of the

experience economy has gained a stronghold in Scandinavia and, in particular, in the

Danish debate on urban and regional development-although elsewhere in Europe and

North America there is plenty of evidence of similar policies which seek to promote indus-

tries and growth-based experiences under various terms and conceptualizations (Bell &

Jayne, 2006; Clark et al., 2004; Fiore et al., 2007; Dammers & Keiner, 2006; Roberts

& Hall, 2004). The basis for such strategies is, however, often rather weak and undocu-

mented. The core belief in many strategies is that experiences can become integrated in

all economic activities, also the ones that were earlier seen as trivial. The experience

factor gives economic actors an advantage when their products (including places) are

brought on to the market. Recently, some support for the idea that the experience

economy brings new perspectives for local development and growth can be found in

recent research papers, although often based on a set of case studies (Fuglsang et al.,

2008; Sørensen et al., 2007; Manniche & Jensen, 2006; Bærenholdt & Haldrup, 2006,

Therkildsen et al., 2009).