With forces of globalization and a neoliberal commitment to open markets, cities in the developing world face increased competition with each other and implement branding to differentiate themselves from their competitors. City brands must appeal to tourists, investors, and residents alike, simultaneously demonstrating that the city is modern enough to be integrated into the global economy, but culturally unique enough to stand apart from rival cities. This thesis investigates how city governments use branding to communicate their commitment to neoliberal principles and their desire to become a respected global city. Using the case studies of Dubai, Singapore, and Mumbai, I find that an authoritarian government can effectively implement cohesive branding to convince the rest of the world that theirs is a true global city. This is because authoritarian governments have the consolidated control necessary to swiftly and effectively implement specific aspects of neoliberal policy favorable to a global city image. These findings contribute to a larger political economy debate regarding the most effective implementation of political institutions to promote economic development, suggesting that a strong state government is necessary in implementing comprehensive policy changes.

First Advisor

Pierre Ly

Degree Type


Date of Award

Spring 2013