Robert Govers is about to publish his new book Imaginative Communities: Admired cities, regions and countries on managing reputations of the communities. Imaginative Communities is written for readers who want to understand why some communities, cities, regions, and countries are admired and others are not; for anyone who feels that the way in which their community is perceived as too negative, cliché or stereotypical; and for those people who want to find out what can be done about it. The book is expected to be published in September 2018.

About the book

Many of us feel uneasy with the lack of recognition that our community, city, region or country receives internationally and with the stereotypes and outdated clichés that “outsiders” define us with. This has probably been the case for as long as man exists, but in today’s world with global connections and social media, it is becoming more apparent, more relevant and more frustrating; to citizens generally, but in particular to policymakers, public administrators, leaders and representatives in public, private and civil society sectors. Why this is and what to do about it, is the topic of this book. It is the first book that discusses the issue of community reputation in a manner that is accessible to all; free from any use of jargon, management terminology or unnecessary complexity. It argues that for communities to be admired, they need a sense of belonging and purpose in order to do amazing imaginative things befitting their character while mesmerizing others. Imaginative initiatives are recognizably from somewhere and hence cut through the clutter in order to create community profile. The book contains examples from Austin, Barcelona, Bhutan, Den Bosch, Dubai, Egypt, Eindhoven, Estonia, Finland, Firenze (Florence), Kazakhstan, Lanzarote, Limburg (Maastricht Region), Oslo, Rome, The Hague, United States of America, and other communities. The book primarily aims to inspire readers and offer them a broad overview of an issue in modern society that is of interest and relevance to all of us: the reputation of our communities.

Book preview (free download)

Official website

About the author

Robert Govers is an independent international advisor, scholar, speaker and author on the reputation of cities, regions, and countries. He is chairman of the International Place Branding Association and the managing research partner of He has also been an adjunct or visiting scholar at Tsinghua University, Beijing; the University of Leuven, Belgium; Rotterdam School of Management, The Netherlands; Loughborough University London Campus; IULM University Milano, Italy; and several institutes in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He also teaches Place Branding on the UNESCO World Heritage at Work Master programme in Torino, Italy.

Robert typically advises in areas such as place identity, image, reputation, economic competitiveness, tourism policy and strategy, educational policy, tourism and investment promotion, and major international events. This is approached from a strategic reputation management perspective referred to as competitive identity, which is based on the premise that places build the reputation through substance and symbolic actions, as opposed to marketing gimmicks.

Robert has held positions in South Africa, The Netherlands, Belgium and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He has been involved in many consultancy projects and advisory boards for reputable organizations such as the International Air Transport Association, the European Commission, the Flemish Government and various ministries, tourism promotion boards and regional and city administrations.

Robert has both a doctoral (2005) and master’s degree (1995) from the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands.