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Innovation typology in tourism

Social capital is fundamental for the production of innovation and the cohesion of innovation systems. Social capital benefits the development of linkages based on long- term relationships and on cognitive factors such as trust. The augment of social capital can be motivated by investments in formal education and training, labour market dynamics and the organization of knowledge creation and learning. Despite the influence of financial capital in accelerating the rates of change and learning needs, policy making in innovation systems should invest in social capital and long-term, sustainable learning. As a result of considering competence building in innovation systems as a whole, natural environment must be also taken into consideration. Thus, social and financial developments in innovation systems must regard environmental sustainability. In this matter, both organizations and institutions must collaborate to achieve sustainability in innovation systems.

Regarding the role of institutions, Asheim and Isaksen (2003) indicate that public intervention can influence an innovation system to be more institutionalized or more networked. They suggest that regional innovation systems may be more institutionalized, based on the linear model that starts with R&D and on top-down innovation processes, or they may have a balance between institutions and other organizations and be based on a network that enhances bottom-up innovation processes. In this distinction, however, it must be emphasized that centralized development of innovation systems is infrequent. In fact, they develop over time in unplanned forms (Edquist 2005). Nonetheless, policy making can influence the process is several ways. For instance, institutions should motivate firms to develop innovations and reduce process duplication by sharing efforts. Consequently, innovation systems are based on the collaboration between private and public organizations.

Several factors might difficult the development of innovation systems. First, a lack on the necessary actors might influence collective learning in regions. Heterogeneity is crucial in order to create an innovative milieu. Consequently, the development of innovation systems relies on the existence of the required organizations and institutions.

Another factor that might hamper the development of innovation systems is the isolation of the different actors. The theory of innovation systems indicates that innovative activity in organizations and the creation of linkages with the environment are direct correlated. Accordingly, external linkages enhance innovative performance in organizations and innovative outputs generate further collaborative linkages. However, for several reasons the linkages with the environment might not exist. In this context, innovation activity in organizations is more difficult.

For instance, Sundbo et al. (2007) state, that in general, innovation systems are not consistent in tourism. However, they also point out that the cohesion of systems depends on several social, institutional and economical factors. One of the reasons because tourism firms are reluctant to participate in networks is that service innovations are easy to imitate. As a result, firms in the same destination see each other as competitors. Therefore, tourism firms do not share information about innovations.


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