Innovation typology in tourism
processes, while SMEs must usually profit from the success of an idea or from the collaboration with other organizations.
Furthermore, SMEs are usually related to low innovation levels, because R&D is frequently taken into consideration as the only determinant of innovation productivity. SMEs in the tourism industry rarely perform R&D in the traditional sense or have a specific department in charge of innovation activities. Furthermore, R&D from universities is usually acquired by large firms, while SMEs in the tourism sector hardly adapt knowledge produced in universities and other research institutions (Hjalager 2002). However, SMEs in tourism can invest in the stage of product development, which benefits the industry and contributes to innovation.
Hjalager (2002) also points out that large firms have been usually classified as being more innovative than SMEs. Besides, Sundbo et al. (2007) confirm empirically that large firms tend to be more innovative than SMEs in the tourism sector. In their study of tourism firms Sundbo et al. (2007) also analyse business units that belong to a corporation. The results demonstrate that large tourism corporations have more innovation capacity, however, their business units are less autonomous to innovate, since innovation processes are centralized by the corporation.
Regarding innovative performance in SMEs, they can enhance their innovative capacity by collaborating with other organizations and institutions. Collaborative environments might also motivate the acquisition and adaptation of knowledge generated in universities and research centres as well as the creation of linkages with other sectors.
In the structure of the tourism industry it is necessary to put emphasis on entrepreneurship in improving economic development. Entrepreneurs can introduce innovations, influencing thus other organizations. They also tend to collaborate in networks and generate and adopt knowledge.
The degree of professionalization in the tourism industry is another aspect to take into consideration in the study of the sector’s characteristics. While several tourism organizations implement professional methods based on elements like quality or customer orientation, many firms in the tourism sector lack on professionalization. On this matter, Sundbo et al. (2007) identify professional firms to be more innovative. Accordingly, firms that lack on professional organizational and production methods have habitually less capacity to innovate. Professional organizations also influence innovation activity in the environment, since they usually enhance collaboration in networks, transferring and adapting knowledge from the environment. The use of IT is also higher in professional organizations.
The lack on professionalization in some tourism firms is also related to low trained human resources. Although several organizations employ qualified personnel, for many firms it is difficult to find trained staff. These two variables, professionalization of the organization and qualified employees habitually correlate. Therefore, less professional organizations have more difficulties to employ trained staff. Despite the fact that qualified human resources are trained in universities, only a part of this workforce is employed in tourism. Although some professional organizations offer appropriate development opportunities to their employees, a career in the traditional sense is not a common characteristic in the tourism sector. Accordingly, innovative performance in