Can Seng Ooi

UTAS Home Professor Can Seng Ooi

Can Seng Ooi

Professor in Cultural and Heritage Tourism

Room 429, School of Social Sciences, Sandy Bay Campus

6226 2336 (phone)

Can Seng is a sociologist and anthropologist by training. Born in Singapore, trained at the National University of Singapore in the 1980s and 1990s, Can Seng sees scholarship in the perspective of understanding the world, contributing to society and engaging with students. Before UTAS, Can Seng lived in Denmark and worked at Copenhagen Business School for 20 years. That stint allowed him to engage with the practice community at various levels. Besides being an award-winning researcher, he was voted 'Best Teacher' by his executive MBA students many times.


Can Seng’s career spans over three continents. Soon after he completed his Master of Social Sciences in Sociology/Anthropology at the National University of Singapore, he joined the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, East and Southeast Asia Office as their Research Officer. The German Foundation offered civil and political development assistance and education in the region. After three years, in 1996, Can Seng became the Research Officer at Singapore’s public housing agency, the Housing and Development Board. That tenure was cut short because he accepted a PhD scholarship from Copenhagen Business School (CBS). He moved to Europe in late 1996, and stayed there till 2016.

After submitting his PhD thesis in September 1999, Can Seng was appointed a Lecturer at the Division of Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality at the Glasgow Caledonian University. He returned to CBS and Copenhagen a year later. The progressive scholarship approach in Scandinavia suited him. Over the years, he proved himself academically, attracted funding for his research and took on a number of leadership positions. He was appointed Professor in International Business and Culture Industries in 2013, and was the founding Director of the Centre for Leisure and Culture Services at CBS. He was also the Editor of the Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies and Asia Matters: Business, Culture and Theory.

Career summary



Thesis title





Mediated Cultures: production and consumption of Copenhagen and Singapore

Copenhagen Business School




Friendship in Singapore

National University of Singapore



BSocSc (Hons)

The Protestant Situation in Singapore

National University of Singapore





National University of Singapore



Languages (other than English)

Can Seng grew up speaking Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese but had to learn English and Mandarin in school. He learned Danish while residing in Denmark.

Administrative expertise

Over the years, Can Seng has taken on a number of leadership and management positions at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). These include:

  • Director, Centre for Leisure and Culture Services
  • Elected Member, Academic Council Member
  • Management board member, imagine.. Creative Industries Research Centre
  • Executive DBA Taskforce Leader
  • Research Stream Leader for “Place branding, art and culture”, Creative Encounters (a research project supported by the Danish Strategic Research Agency)
  • Research Team Leader (Denmark) for the Asia through the Eyes of the EU project, supported by the Asia-Europe Foundation
  • Programme Director, MSc (International Business)


• Tourism and society • Tourism development • Art and society • Art worlds and cultural development • Creative economy • Place branding • Intercultural management • Sustainability and responsible business

Teaching expertise

Over 20 years, Can Seng has taught a number of courses. Besides delivering classes at BA and MA programmes, he taught at the Executive MBA and full time MBA programmes at Copenhagen Business School. His more recent courses include Sociology, International Business Environment, and Corporate Social Responsibility. For the last time in 2017, he will conduct a Master-level summer university course at Fudan University, Shanghai, titled “Doing Business in China”.

Research Appointments

  • Board Member, Holbæk i Pinsen  [Holbæk during Pentacoast] (annual cultural festival for the Danish city of Holbæk). 2015-2016.
  • Member, International Advisory Board  Yellow River Arts Centre, Yinchuan, China; position appointed by the Mayor of Yinchuan. 2012-2014.

View more on Professor Can Seng Ooi in WARP


  • Cultural and heritage tourism
  • Tourism development
  • Tourism strategy
  • Creative economy
  • Art worlds
  • Singapore
  • Denmark

Research Themes

The UTAS research theme/s to which your work relates. These are: Better Health; Creativity, Culture and Society; Marine, Antarctic and Maritime; Environment, Resources and Sustainability; and Data, Knowledge and Decisions. Describe the broad, over-arching research interest in a way that generally describes the research activity/projects that you and your group undertake, using the format provided in the example below.

Can Seng’s interests fit nicely into the University’s Creativity, Culture and Society research theme. His research expertise covers two broad inter-related areas. The first is tourism and society. The relationship between tourism and the local community is an intricate and sometimes antagonistic one. Touristification is often seen as negative but can be co-opted by host communities for their own community-building projects. Can Seng addresses issues of touristification, distribution of costs and welfare, and social engineering tendencies embedded in tourism development programmes. His comparative work in Denmark and Singapore draws out “best practices” and highlight unintended consequences.

The second area is on cultural development and art worlds. The creative economy has grown in global importance. Australia is no different. Addressing various issues raised in the sociology of art and sociology of value, Can Seng addresses the politics of cultural development embedded in the current neo-liberal creative economy agenda. Tourism has become the raison d'être for many cultural projects. He is also, for instance, concerned with the proliferation of cultural institutions that have surrendered their independence and authority to wealthy philanthropists who donate art works, build museums and support for cultural activities. Essentially there are moral limits to how markets distribute welfare.

A third area is on branding places. Many countries, cities and villages are now framed and promoted through brand identities. Can Seng is one of the first scholars to study this phenomenon. He addresses paradoxes of place branding. He looks at how events and festivals are used to brand places, and explains why many places have similar brands even though their brands are supposed to communicate their uniqueness.


By the nature of his research, Can Seng is always working with colleagues in other countries. One project he is currently engaged in is titled Innovation in Coastal Tourism: Co-creating Competitive Experiences. This project is based in Denmark and supported by the Danish authorities. In another project, in which he is an advisor, is housed in the University of Copenhagen, and deals with Buddhism, Believers and Business. In yet another project, focusing on sustainability and tourism, he is working with colleagues at Copenhagen Business School and Oxford Brookes University.

Over the years, Can Seng collaborated with colleagues from different countries, including Sweden, Norway, Finland, Singapore, China, Israel, the Netherlands and the UK.


Emerald Literati award - 2014 Highly Commended Paper - for Koning, Juliette; and Ooi, Can-Seng. 2013. 'Awkward encounters and ethnography', Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, 16-32. DOI: 10.1108/17465641311327496.

Fields of Research

  • Impacts of Tourism (150601)
  • Tourism (150699)
  • Studies of Asian Society (169903)
  • Tourism Marketing (150604)
  • Tourist Behaviour and Visitor Experience (150606)
  • Cultural Studies (200299)
  • Environment Policy (160507)
  • Asian Cultural Studies (200202)
  • Creative Arts, Media and Communication Curriculum and Pedagogy (130201)
  • Comparative and Cross-Cultural Education (130302)
  • Sociology (160899)
  • Comparative Government and Politics (160603)
  • Arts and Cultural Policy (160502)
  • Social Policy (160512)
  • Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
  • Hospitality Management (150402)
  • Urban Sociology and Community Studies (160810)
  • Political Science (160699)
  • Urban and Regional Planning (120599)

Research Objectives

  • Socio-Cultural Issues in Tourism (900302)
  • Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society (970116)
  • Tourism (900399)
  • Cultural Understanding (959999)
  • The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) (950104)
  • Education and Training Systems Policies and Development (930501)
  • Communication Across Languages and Culture (950201)
  • Hospitality Services (909901)
  • Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services (970115)
  • Government and Politics (940299)
  • Arts and Leisure (950199)
  • Urban Land Policy (960708)
  • International Relations (940399)
  • The Performing Arts (incl. Theatre and Dance) (950105)


Can Seng has published extensively over the last two decades, particularly on cultural tourism, tourism policy, place branding, art worlds, cultural development and cross cultural understanding. He draws comparative lessons from Denmark, Singapore and China. There are about a hundred articles, chapters and a book to his name. Believing in free access to academic knowledge, Can Seng supports free and open access journals.  He edited two such journals: Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies and Asia Matters: Business, Culture and Theory.

Total publications


Journal Article

(11 outputs)
2017Ooi CS, Pedersen JS, 'In search of Nordicity: how new Nordic cuisine shaped destination branding in Copenhagen', Journal of Gastronomy and Tourism, 2, (4) pp. 217-231. ISSN 2169-2971 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3727/216929717X15046207899375 [eCite] [Details]


2016Coca-Stefaniak A, Morrison AM, Edwards D, Graburn N, Liu C, et al., 'Editorial', International Journal of Tourism Cities, 2, (4) pp. 273-280. ISSN 2056-5607 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1108/IJTC-10-2016-0041 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 1


2016Comunian R, Ooi CS, 'Global aspirations and local talent: the development of creative higher education in Singapore', The International Journal of Cultural Policy, 22, (1) pp. 58-79. ISSN 1028-6632 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2015.1101085 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 1


2016Ooi CS, 'Sustainable tourism, progress, challenges and opportunities: an introduction', Journal of Cleaner Production, 111 pp. 285e294. ISSN 0959-6526 (2016) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

[eCite] [Details]

2016Budeanu A, Miller G, Moscardo G, Ooi CS, 'Sustainable tourism, progress, challenges and opportunities: an introduction', Journal of Cleaner Production, 111 pp. 285-294. ISSN 0959-6526 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.10.027 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 13


2015Lai S, Ooi CS, 'Branded as a World Heritage city: The politics afterwards', Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 11, (4) pp. 276-292. ISSN 1751-8040 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1057/pb.2015.12 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1


2014Ooi CS, Hakanson L, LeCava L, 'Poetics and politics of the European Capital of Culture Project', Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, 148 pp. 420-427. ISSN 1877-0428 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.07.061 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 1


2013Koning J, Ooi CS, 'Awkward encounters and ethnography', Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, 8, (1) pp. 16-32. ISSN 1746-5648 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1108/17465641311327496 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 14


2013Ren C, Ooi CS, 'Auto-Communicating Micro-Orientalism: Articulating Denmark' in China at the Shanghai Expo', Asia Europe Journal, 11, (2) pp. 129-145. ISSN 1610-2932 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s10308-013-0346-6 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 4


2011Ooi CS, 'Subjugated in the creative industries: the fine arts in Singapore', Culture Unbound, 3 pp. 119-137. ISSN 2000-1525 (2011) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.113119 [eCite] [Details]


2011Ooi CS, Stober B, 'Creativity Unbound - Policies, Government and the Creative Industries', Culture Unbound, 3 pp. 113-117. ISSN 2000-1525 (2011) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.113113 [eCite] [Details]


Chapter in Book

(17 outputs)
2017Ooi CS, 'The Global Art City', The SAGE Handbook of New Urban Studies, SAGE Publications Inc, J Hannigan and G Richards (ed), United States, pp. 207-216. ISBN 9781412912655 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2017Ooi CS, Strandgaard Pedersen J, 'Tourism, Place Branding and the Local-Turn in Food: The New Nordic Cuisine/Tourismus, Place Branding und die Hinwendung zu lokalen Produkten: Die New Nordic Cuisine', Kulinarischer Tourismus und Weintourismus: Culinary and Wine Tourism Conference 2015, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, D Wagner, M Mair, AF Stockl and A Dreyer (ed), Germany, pp. 95-104. ISBN 978-3-658-13731-1 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-13732-8_8 [eCite] [Details]


2015Gulsrud NM, Ooi CS, 'Manufacturing green consensus: Urban greenspace governance in Singapore', Urban Forests, Trees, and Greenspace: A Political Ecology Perspective, Routledge, LA Sandberg, A Bardekjian and S Butt (ed), United States, pp. 77-92. ISBN 978-0415714105 (2015) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2015Ooi CS, 'Intercultural management', The SAGE Encyclopedia of Quality and the Service Economy, SAGE Publications Inc, S M Dahlgaard-Park (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 322-328. ISBN 9781452256726 (2015) [Other Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2015Ooi CS, 'Cultural Tourism', The SAGE Encyclopedia of Quality and the Service Economy, SAGE Publications, Inc, SM Dahlgaard-Park (ed), London, pp. 108-110. ISBN 9781452256726 (2015) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.4135/9781483346366.n37 [eCite] [Details]


2015Ooi CS, 'Destination Marketing', The SAGE Encyclopedia of Quality and the Service Economy, SAGE Publications, Inc, SM Dahlgaard-Park (ed), London, pp. 154-156. ISBN 9781452256726 (2015) [Other Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2015Ooi CS, 'Soft power, tourism', Encyclopedia of Tourism, Springer International Publishing Switzerland, J Jafari and H Xiao (ed), Switzerland, pp. 1-2. ISBN 978-3-319-01385-5 (2015) [Other Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-01669-6_184-1 [eCite] [Details]


2014Ooi CS, 'Accentuating complexity and ambiguity: Dialogism and its methodological implications', Tourism Methodologies - New Perspectives, Practices and Proceedings, Copenhagen Business School Press, JW MEged, BS Blichfeldt, LA Hansen and KA Hvass (ed), Denmark, pp. 155-174. ISBN 9788763003179 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2014Ooi CS, 'The making of copy-cat city: Accreditation tactics in place branding', Branding Chinese Mega-Cities: Policies, Practices and Positioning, Edward Elgar Publishing, PO Berg and E Bjorner (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 232-248. ISBN 978-1783470327 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2014Ooi CS, Shevren L, 'Creative Heritage: Melaka and Its Past', Creative Districts around the World : Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Bairro Alto, NHTV University of Applied Sciences, L Marques and G Richards (ed), Breda, pp. 163-170. ISBN 9789081901130 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2013Ooi CS, 'Tourism policy challenges: Balancing acts, co-operative stakeholders and maintaining authenticity', The Routledge Handbook of Cultural Tourism, Routledge, M Smith and G Richards (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 67-74. ISBN 978-0415523516 (2013) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.4324/9780203120958.ch8 [eCite] [Details]


2013Ooi CS, Munar AM, 'Digital social construction of a tourist site: Ground Zero', Tourism Social Media: Transformations in Identity, Community and Culture, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, AM Munar, S Gyimothy and L Cai (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 159-175. ISBN 978-1781902134 (2013) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1108/S1571-5043(2013)0000018011 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1


2012Munar AM, Ooi CS, 'The truth of the crowds: social media and the heritage experience', The Cultural Moment in Tourism (Advances in Tourism), Routledge, L Smith, E Waterton and S Watson (ed), United States, pp. 255-273. ISBN 978-0415611152 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2012Ooi CS, 'Education and becoming an artist: Experiences from Singapore', Careers in Creative Industries (Routledge Advances in Management and Business Studies), Routledge, C Mathieu (ed), United States, pp. 254-269. ISBN 978-0415808262 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2012Ooi CS, 'The Danish welfare model and the 'Singapore Inc' model', Changing Tides and Changing Ties - Anchoring Asia-Europe Relations in Challenging Times, The EU Centre in Singapore, LH Yeo and B Turner (ed), Singapore, pp. 69-74. ISBN 9789810741341 (2012) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

2011Ooi CS, 'Paradoxes of city branding and societal changes', City Branding: Theory and Cases, Palgrave Macmillian, K Dinnie (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 54-61. ISBN 978-0-230-29479-0 (2011) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1057/9780230294790 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 4


2011Ooi CS, 'The overseas constituency', Voting in Change: Politics of Singapore's 2011 General Election, Ethos Books, KYL Tan and T Lee (ed), Singapore, pp. 161-171. ISBN 978-981-08-9096-4 (2011) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Conference Publication

(3 outputs)
2017Ooi CS, 'Moral limits of the market: The impossibility of balanced tourism development', CAUTHE 2017: Time For Big Ideas? Re-thinking The Field For Tomorrow, 7-10 February 2017, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, pp. 536-540. ISBN 9780473388195 (2017) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

2017Ooi CS, 'Moral limits of the market: The impossibility of balanced tourism development', CAUTHE 2017: Time For Big Ideas? Re-thinking The Field For Tomorrow, 7-10 February 2017, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, pp. 536-540. ISBN 9780473388195 (2017) [Refereed Conference Paper]

[eCite] [Details]

2017Ooi CS, Strandgaard J, 'Tourism, Place Branding and the Local-Turn in Food: The New Nordic Cuisine/ Tourismus, Place Branding und die Hinwendung zu lokalen Produkten: Die New Nordic Cuisine', Kulinarischer Tourismus und Weintourismus Culinary and Wine Tourism Conference 2015, 21-23 October 2015, Vienna, Austria, pp. 95-104. ISSN 2510-2281 (2017) [Refereed Conference Paper]

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-13732-8_8 [eCite] [Details]


Other Public Output

(3 outputs)
2017Ooi CS, 'Failed economic adventures have big impact here', The Straits Times, Singapore (online), 10 November 2017 (2017) [Newspaper Article]

[eCite] [Details]

2017Ooi CS, 'Brilliant to pedestrianise area', The Straits Times, Singapore (online), 21 April 2017 (2017) [Newspaper Article]

[eCite] [Details]

2016Strandgaard J, Bevort F, Bille T, Cappelen SM, Munar AM, et al., 'Examining the Variety of Contexts for Creativity', Creative Industries Research Centre, Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark, Copenhagen, pp. 1-178. (2016) [Government or Industry Research]

[eCite] [Details]

Grants & Funding

Can Seng has been involved in a number of projects, supported by various funding agencies. The more substantial ones were/are:

  • Investigator. Innovation in Coastal Tourism: Co-creating Competitive Experiences (InnoCoast). Research grant (€800 000) awarded by the Denmark Innovation Fund. 2016-19.
  • Investigator. Creativity for Innovation & Growth in Europe ( Research Grant (€3.2 million) awarded by the EU 7th Framework Program, Socio Economic Sciences and Humanities. 2012-2016.
  • Editor. Asia Matters: Business, Culture and Theory. Open access journal start-up grant (€45 000) awarded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. 2012-15
  • Research Stream Leader. Creative Encounters. Research Grant (€1.8 million) awarded by the Danish Strategic Research Agency. 2001-11.

Denmark’s Principal Investigator and Research Leader. Asia through the Eyes of Europe. Research grant (€120 000) awarded by the Asia-Europe Foundation. 2010-11.

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Tracking trail users' movement in the Skane region of Sweden using the Tracer technology (2017)$195,495
The project aim is to understand the movements, activities and preferences of tourists and users of walking trails in the Skene region of Sweden. An app will be developed to collect tracking and demographic data from participants. These datasets will then be analysed and presented to Tourism Skane.
Tourism in Skane ($195,495)
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Hardy A; Eccleston RG; Aryal J; Ooi CS
Hard-Truth Tourism (HTT): Tourism in the Anthropocene (2017)$5,617
This project will scope a research design to challenge established narratives around sustainable tourism research and practices using a Tasmanian mining town case study.
University of Tasmania ($5,617)
Grant-CAL Hothouse Research Enhancement Program
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Ooi CS; Vorobjovas-Pinta O

Research Supervision

Over the decades, Can Seng has supervised students on their projects from the PhD to Bachelor levels. Every student is different, and a social contract has to be agreed upon before he agrees to take on the student. Areas that he could possibly support the students in their endeavours include:

  • Tourism and society issues
  • Tourism development and strategy
  • Art worlds and cultural development
  • Creative cultural industries and the creative economy
  • Place and destination branding
  • Intercultural communication and management
  • Sociology of markets
  • Sociology of values
  • Economic sociology




PhDA Study on the Cross-Cultural Behaviour and Decision-Making of Chinese Tourists for Australia2017