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Innovation typology in tourism

1. Introduction

Innovation is a research topic with a broad tradition. However, learning processes, from which innovations emerge, and the dynamics of change and development have traditionally been studied in relation with the manufacturing sector. Moreover, the objects of study have been usually process and tangible product innovations. Although recently researchers have focused their attention in other sectors, more research on service innovation should be carried out. Furthermore, regarding innovation in tourism, there is a need to adapt generic theories to the tourism sector and to contribute with new ideas.

In order to find out, which are the origins of innovation processes, it is necessary to look into two fundamental subjects that are inherent to innovation, which are learning and interaction. Both are closely related. The first appears to be an intrinsic condition of individuals. Moreover, it can also be identified in organizations. Thus, learning allows individuals as well as organizations to develop. However, learning and development is not possible without taking the environment into account. Hence, it is necessary that interactions take place between individuals, groups of individuals, organizations, etc. Furthermore, the concept of interaction implies the transfer of knowledge, which is the basis for innovations.

This simplified description delivers, however, some important aspects of innovation that can be found throughout the different studies. Thus, some authors may refer to learning organizations, while others can use the terms innovative organizations for the same purpose. Concepts like knowledge transfer and social interaction within individuals are closely related as well. It is thus important to be acquainted with these similarities between concepts, since they are fundamental aspects of the processes of innovation.

Regarding the scope of the research on innovation processes, two fundamental levels are habitually considered: organizational and macro level. Both levels are necessarily linked.

First, the production, acquisition and diffusion of knowledge has been studied regarding organizations. In this matter, the dynamics of innovation within organizations have been analyzed. Accordingly, the structure of the organization and the management of innovation are fundamental factors to enhance innovative activity at organizational level. Many contributions on this topic can be found in the literature of innovation (see e.g. Sundbo 2001, Jensen et al. 2007, Guia et al. 2006). In this matter, as it also occurs in other innovation topics, the theories about organization of innovation are heterogeneous. In this regard, Lam (2005) identifies three different strands. First, most organizational theories link the structure of organizations with the tendency to innovate. Next, several theories are dedicated to the cognitive foundations of organizations, which are related to learning and knowledge management. Finally, a research strand is concerned with organizational change and adaptation. In this master thesis, these theories are linked to several contents, according to the subject of study.


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