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Innovation typology in tourism

The typologies identified in the third edition of the Oslo Manual seem also appropriate for the tourism sector. However, the definition of each typology should be adapted to the peculiarities of the tourism industry. Accordingly, a classification of innovation types for the tourism industry based on the reviewed literature is provided:

  • Product innovation: an incrementally changed or radically new good or service1 capable of being commercialized.

  • Process innovation: the implementation of an incrementally changed or radically new production process or delivery method.

  • Organizational innovation: the implementation of a new or incrementally changed organizational method or managerial form.

  • Marketing innovations: the implementation of a new or incrementally changed marketing strategy that develops the sales market.

The specificities of each typology are studied in detail. First, some characteristics related to product and process innovations should be mentioned. In tourism as well as in other service activities it is not always possible to separate product from process. In fact, in many cases the product is the process (Gallouj 2002). In this matter, Gallouj suggests to classify a new service function that is based on an existing production process as a product innovation and an existing service function that is emerging from a new process as a process innovation. If service function as well as production process are new, it can be categorized as both product and process innovation. The service function is thus the element that enables the distinction between product and process. However, considering the diversity and complexity of services, this classification is difficult to apply systematically. The Oslo Manual (OECD 2005) also emphasizes that it is more difficult to separate processes and products in services than in other types of products. In the Oslo Manual, a distinction similar to the one suggested by Gallouj is introduced as well, which is based on the separation between service’s characteristics and methods, equipment and skills used to perform the service (OECD 2005).

Another contribution in relation with the differentiation between product and process innovations is the one introduced by Pavitt (1984)2. Although the research developed by Pavitt is mainly based on manufacturing firms, the characteristics regarding product and process innovations can be applied to other sectors. Pavitt defines innovations that are used in the same sector as process innovations and innovations that are used in other sectors as products innovations. Moreover, Pavitt relates each innovation to three sectors: the sector of production of the innovation, the sector of use of the innovation and the sector of the innovating firm's principal activity. Accordingly, the organization is considered, but also the sectors of production and use. Considering Pavitt’s approach, a process innovation may emerge and be used in the same organization. If this innovation is commercialized, it becomes a product innovation from the producer’s point of view. However, the incorporation to production of this new product represents a process innovation for the user organization. In other words, process innovations can be commercialized as product innovations and product innovations can be adapted as process innovations. Accordingly, the existence of

1 2 Incremental and radical changes, i.e. degree of innovativeness, are analyzed in the following section. This influencing work from Pavitt (1984) provided the identification of three types of innovating firms: supplier dominated, production intensive and science based. These topics are presented in chapter 6.


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