Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (8): 1436-1455.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201608011

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Institution and space: The luxury hotel of Dongguan in 1978-2015

Xiaomei CAI1,2(), Meixin LIU1,2   

  1. 1. School of Tourism Management, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    2. Cultural Industry and Cultural Geography Research Center, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
  • Received:2015-12-01 Revised:2016-01-08 Online:2016-08-25 Published:2016-08-25
  • Supported by:
    Special Program of the Preliminary Study of National Basic Research Program (973 Program), No.2014CB460614;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41201137, No.41171125, No.41201140


Luxury hotels in Dongguan have received much attention in social and cultural geography. Building upon in-depth interview and discourse analysis, this paper employs a regulation-space perspective to explore the institutional initiative that underpins the spatial and temporal evolution of Dongguan's luxury hotels. The goal is to analyze how visible institutional frameworks and invisible rules work together to become an inner logic to shape the development of luxury hotels. This analysis is made in the national-local power nexus. The major research findings are threefolded. First, at the local scale, Dongguan's luxury hotels have undergone three stages of development: incubation (1978-1993), speculation (1994-1999), and taking-off and integration (2000-2004). Second, at the regional scale, the development of luxury hotels in Dongguan is stabilized during 2005 and 2012. More and more external investors have entered Dongguan and changed the power structure that regulates the luxury hotel sectors. Finally, at the national scale, luxury hotels face a top-down restructuring and have to adjust to a new market. Increasingly normalized formal regulations force luxury hotels in Dongguan into a rational stage of development. This paper furthers an understanding of the relation between regulation and space and emphasizes that spatial development of economic sectors are subjected to formal regulations. Spatial evolvement is an institutionalized process in which state regulations have to undertake constant adjustments in order to establish an institutional system conforming to the production of new space.

Key words: institution, space, scale, Dongguan, luxury hotel