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Innovation typology in tourism

  • Linkages between actors. This determinant is related to the former one. In order to enhance innovation activity, it is not only sufficient to have the appropriate actors at the macro level. Linkages between actors must be also created. Destinations with diverse actors that do not collaborate, may offer a fragmented product. In contrast, linkages between actors increase synergies. Furthermore, in collaborative environments spillovers benefit organizations. If organizations at the macro level see each other as competitors, collaboration may be hampered. Although, a certain degree of competition may benefit innovation performance, collaboration is the main driver of innovation in destinations.

  • Institutional framework. The environment in which tourism firms operate may be highly institutionalized, i.e. regulations and public policy influence activities of firms. In contrast, institutions may have less influence on innovation activity at the macro level. In tourism, the institutional framework plays a major role. This is especially relevant at the different geographical levels, i.e. local, regional, national and global. Thus, institutions regulate activities of firms, motivate collaboration between actors, improve environmental sustainability, etc. Consequently, a certain degree of institutionalization enhances innovation at destination level.

  • Technological trajectory. At the macro level, technological trajectories might be industry specific. Besides, destinations and groups of organizations may follow individual trajectories within industries. In this context, destinations may develop through cumulative processes and the introduction of small changes. Furthermore, new tourism services and whole new destinations may emerge through the introduction of radical changes. Consequently, destinations follow diverse paths of development. In order to avoid lock-in situations, periods of small cumulative changes should be combined with the introduction of radical innovations. This is especially relevant for traditional destinations, which must combine their know- how with the introduction of innovations in order stay competitive in the market.

  • Interaction with the demand. Destinations are influenced by the conditions of the demand. Acquisition of information plays here a major role. Thus, if demand needs change, destinations may introduce some changes in their products. For instance, more experienced tourists demand more personalized services. Besides, the augment of the demand for sustainable products has motivated the introduction of innovation processes that enhance environmental protection. Accordingly, continuous interaction with the demand may reduce uncertainty and enhance innovation when demand needs change.

  • Diversification. At the macro level, diversification enhances the possibility to benefit from technological opportunities. Destinations that carry out diversified innovation processes are more able to adapt new knowledge. Diversification thus enhances appropriability conditions. Accordingly, collaborative environments might improve external acquisition of knowledge as well as internal knowledge production through the diversification of activities. In order to increase diversification in the tourism industry, collaboration between SME’s is necessary.


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