This article discusses the new wave of spatial development strategies in small, peripheral municipalities, based on the notion of the experience economy as a local response to the challenges of globalization and industrial restructuring. The notion of the experience economy, originally derived from strategic management, is more encompassing than the related notion of cultural economy, and its application in urban strategies aims to promote (1) new forms of business innovation, (2) the development of new industries and (3) the development of place as a factor of attraction. The article proceeds to describe the extent to which this perception has been integrated into urban strategies in North Denmark, and the associated local discourses and institutional practices. One municipality, Frederikshavn, is described and analysed in more detail. In this municipality the experience economy has been constructed by the initiatives of public, private and civic actors over more than a decade, until it finally became institutionalized in official municipal policy and organizations. The many initiatives materialized in a considerable enhancement of the local cultural and leisure supply, urban refurbishment, business innovation and a change of urban image from industrial city to experience city. The experience economy mainly became institutionalized as a reinterpretation and development of welfare services from a consumer perspective. As a municipal strategy the experience economy concept is faced with two problems: the municipal scale is not adequate to change the economic and demographic fate of peripheral localities, and enhancing the quality of place and image can be only part of the response to the serious challenges facing them.
European Urban and Regional Studies, 2013, Vol 20, Issue 4, p. 460-472