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Innovation typology in tourism

These trajectories are mainly analyzed in relation with individual organizations. Accordingly, these four trajectories define different innovation modes at organizational level. Nevertheless, their influence at the macro level is also studied. For each category a scenario is analyzed, in which a group of firms of the same category collaborate at the macro level.

Given that innovation in tourism can emerge inside as well as outside the tourism sector, the typology includes both tourism organizations and external actors, such as suppliers of IT, financial services or consultancy.

Supplier Dominated Tourism Organizations

At the level of the organization, this category is represented by SME’s, such as hotels, restaurants and leisure activities. These SME’s habitually provide services on site. They have few resources to invest in innovation. Therefore, innovations are mainly acquired from external sources. The acquisition of innovation is based on the purchase of capital goods and services, such as machinery, IT-services or financial services.

Nevertheless, supplier dominated firms may also acquire knowledge from customers. Thus, incremental changes in services may emerge from the interaction with suppliers and tourists. However, low levels of absorptive capacity hamper the transformation of knowledge into innovations. Tacit knowledge acquired from tourists is not codified. Hence, supplier dominated firms have difficulties to repeat these small changes and transform them into innovations.

Since these firms have low levels of knowledge production, they are highly influenced by the trajectories of suppliers. Accordingly, if innovations are not acquired from suppliers, the technological trajectory followed by these firms may lead to lock-in situations. Moreover, supplier dominated organizations are not diversified, which influences the adaptability to changing conditions in the environment. Therefore, such firms have difficulties to open new markets or to adapt the product when demand needs change.

The low levels of absorptive capacity of such organizations make difficult the acquisition of knowledge from universities, research centres or KIBS. Thus, collaboration with other actors is limited to suppliers from inside and outside the tourism sector.

The structure of organizations in supplier dominated firms is mainly a managerial one. Processes are usually steered by managers. As a result, bottom-up innovation activities are not motivated. Therefore, employees rarely take part in learning and knowledge production processes. This lack on knowledge production within firms is accentuated by high levels of personnel fluctuation. The main reasons why personnel changes frequently in supplier dominated firms are low salaries and high seasonality. As a result, these firms do not offer career perspectives for high qualified personnel. Consequently, the levels of professionalization are low, which influences innovation performance.

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