Innovation typology in tourism
Innovation processes differ across industries, or rather, for the purposes of this study, across organizations and regions. Accordingly, the characteristics of innovation in the tourism sector are different from those in other industries. Furthermore, innovation performance among organizations and destinations also varies. Therefore, in this master thesis the determinants of innovation in the tourism sector at the level of the organization and at the macro level have been identified. Then, the classification and definition of these determinants has let to the proposal of a typology of innovation in tourism.
In spite of the diversity of innovation activities in the sector, “learning by interacting” appears to be the most effective form of innovation. Learning takes place within organizations as well as among them. Processes of learning can be localized in a determined region or they can occur more globally. Consequently, learning within the destination as well as outside becomes necessary. Thus, knowledge transfer across organizations, destinations and whole industries enhances processes of learning, which directly influence the emergence of innovations.
The tourism industry, mainly based on SME’s, relies more on tacit knowledge, i.e. knowledge that is embodied in individuals, than explicit. In contrast, tacit knowledge is codified and transformed in explicit knowledge in destinations (Cooper 2006). This indicates that in order to improve innovation capacity of SME’s in the tourism industry, several processes must be enhanced, such as collaboration in networks, collective learning or the combination of tacit and explicit knowledge.
In this context, organizations rely on two main forms of innovation performance: knowledge production and knowledge acquisition. Therefore, in order to enhance innovative activity, organizations must create linkages with the environment as well as invest in the internal production of innovation. In spite of the fact that both factors are relevant and mutually supporting, it is possible to identify organizations that acquire more external innovations and others that have more internal innovative capacity. Accordingly, both determinants should be taken into consideration in the analysis of innovative performance in organizations.
Innovation at the level of the organization is closely related to the development of skills, competences and routines. Whereas skills are embodied in individuals, competences and routines are more linked with processes at organizational level. In this context, organizations develop through processes of improvement and change of skills, competences and routines. A great part of these are based on tacit knowledge and the interaction between individuals, thereby adding complexity to the process of innovation. However, routines may be institutionalized, i.e. formalized, in order to reduce uncertainty. Consequently, management of innovation and the structure of organizations influence the production of innovation within organizations.