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Innovation typology in tourism

Organizations principally collaborate in order to combine elements of know-how (Lundvall 2004). Due to the fact that knowledge is spread among organizations and institutions, collaboration is the basis to bring together all this knowledge and develop innovations. Thus, the development of social linkages benefits information diffusion, resource sharing and interorganizational learning (Powell and Grodal 2005). Collaboration with other organizations also helps sharing risks thus reducing uncertainty. Therefore, the development of networks is more frequent in periods of technological discontinuity (Powell and Grodal 2005).

Partnerships between organizations are at the core of the corporate strategy (Powell and Grodal 2005). Organizations that participate in different types of collaborative structures tend to be more innovative. In this context, SME’s can benefit more from collaborating in networks than larger firms (Powell and Grodal 2005), since they usually have less resources to invest in innovation. Therefore, they are relatively influenced by the immediate innovative milieu (Asheim and Isaksen 2003). Consequently, they habitually participate in collaborative structures that are regionally embedded, such as clusters or innovation systems. Entrepreneurial organizations benefit from participating in networks as well (Powell and Grodal 2005). Especially in tourism, entrepreneurs build important linkages with the environment. They are providers of new knowledge and ideas and at the same time use external resources in order to transform their ideas into innovations.

Concerning the forms in which the process of knowledge sharing is contextualized, there is a main distinction between sectoral and geographical collaborative structures (Fagerberg 2005, Asheim and Gertler 2005). For instance, Asheim and Gertler (2005) consider that the environment of organizations can be interpreted functionally or geographically. Accordingly, organizations can create linkages outside the geographical boundaries and be functionally related to global knowledge (Asheim and Isaksen 2003). In this context, functional linkages are usually in relation with the organization’s main activity. Besides, relationships can be based on geographical proximity. Regarding the contributions in the literature, scholars have mainly focused on the linkages within a geographical context (see e.g. Asheim and Gertler 2005, Asheim and Isaksen 2003, Edquist 2005, Lundval et al. 2002, Sundbo et al. 2007). Regarding the tourism industry, geographically embedded linkages tend to be more frequent, although networks in tourism can be based on non-local linkages as well.

Organizations can participate in different collaborative structures. For instance, Sundbo et al. (2007) relate innovation performance to three levels: firms, networks and innovation systems. For Sundbo et al. (2007) networks are situated between organizations and the development of innovation systems. This can certainly be expected if the network turns into a more institutionalized form. Nevertheless, this is not always the case, since organizations might benefit more from collaborating in networks than in innovation systems. In this matter, the main activity of the organization usually determines the kind of relationship to be built.

Networks may be more informal and embedded in social relations or more structured and based on formal linkages. Habitually, networks that are created through informal relationships emerge in regional economies or technological communities (Powell and Grodal 2005). Besides, networks that are more formally structured are usually based


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