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Innovation typology in tourism

on market considerations and established through contractual forms. As networks develop, however, their structure may change (Powell and Grodal 2005).

Despite the fact that networks do not have the institutionalized framework of innovation systems, they can be build on a geographical context as well. Relationships, in which the spatial factor plays a major role, are associated to the innovative milieu (Sundbo et al. 2007), i.e. the existence of several actors that enhance innovation in a determined geographical area.

Geographical proximity is also related to the emergence of clusters. Thus, interaction between organizations and the existence of complementary industries in a spatial context benefits the development of such industrial clusters, thereby enhancing regional competitiveness (Porter 1998).

Networks formed in an innovative milieu such as clusters of enterprises or industrial districts have similarities with innovation systems. In all of them geographical proximity and long-term relationships play a major role. However, the concept of innovation systems implies that determined patterns of innovation are carried out. It emphasizes thus the systemic character of innovation. This systemic character is displayed in various ways. Edquist (2005) points out that in innovation systems the objective is to develop, diffuse and use innovations. Organizations and institutions in innovation systems create and commercialize knowledge. Thus, in collective solutions, innovations are less important for innovators, but play a major role in the innovation system as a whole (Lundvall et al. 2002). Therefore, it can be stated that in innovation systems all aspects of the social, natural, economical and institutional environment are taken into consideration.

Scholars study geographically embedded innovation systems at different levels. First, national innovation systems are situated in the context of nation states (Lundvall et al. 2002). Accordingly, there is a national geographical, institutional, cultural and social framework. Next, regional innovation systems are developed within the boundaries of nations. These are regions characterized by a high level of innovation activity and cohesion between actors. Despite the fact that regional innovation systems have been situated in the context of nations, they actually might surpass national boundaries. Finally, another approach introduced by Prats (2005) emphasizes the existence of tourism innovation systems in local communities. Furthermore, he suggests that the theory of innovation systems can be applied at the level of the tourism destination.

Regarding the differences between innovation systems, it is important to take into consideration that innovation differs among regions and sectors. This is mainly due to the fact that natural, social and cultural characteristics influence innovation performance. For instance, long-term interactive learning is easier within the boundaries of national or regional innovation systems, in which cultural and linguistic factors are similar (Lundvall et al. 2002). In this subject, Lam (2004) introduces the concept of varieties of capitalism, which is based on the theory that societies with different characteristics have diverse economic, social and innovative capabilities. This approach can be also applied to the tourism sector, since the emergence of the tourism industry is closely connected with regional, economical and societal particularities.


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