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Innovation typology in tourism

In spite of the heterogeneity of theories, two different forms of managing innovation according with the structure of the organization can be identified: one formal and structured and another informal and less structured. Since innovation is related to the interaction between individuals in local situations (Guia et al. 2006), it appears that in tourism the most appropriate structure is the dynamic and less structured one. Nevertheless, some managerial elements might be necessary in order to reduce uncertainty, such as formalization of innovation, investment in training or development of bottom-up processes. Accordingly, strategy plays a major role in creating the structure of organizations. Innovative strategies improve organizational forms that enhance information exchange as well as management activities. Furthermore, strategies may influence innovation performance in organizations over long-time periods.

Another form of reducing uncertainty is to create linkages with the environment. External linkages allow firms to acquire new knowledge and develop new competences.

The environment thus influences innovation processes. Consequently, innovation at the macro level might be determined by the interaction between actors. The systemic character of innovation is explained by the necessity of individuals and organizations to interact and develop. This interaction can be identified at different levels according with the type of linkages. At the first level, there exist several forms of cooperation. Next, there is a higher level of linkages in networks. Finally, sectoral and regional similarities are present in systems.

Social, cultural, economical and natural environments influence innovation activity in destinations. Accordingly, innovation processes in destinations are influenced by the local characteristics of the region. In this matter, the theory of local tourism innovation systems (see Prats 2005) can provide information about how a destination develops. Innovation at destination level needs heterogeneity of actors. In this master thesis, several actors have been identified for being necessary. These are tourism firms, Knowledge-Intensive Business Services, universities and research centres, government and other public institutions, tourists, and the local population. Since innovation in tourism also emerges from the interaction with other sectors, these actors can be from the tourism sector as well as from other industries. In this context, the labour of institutions in creating a sustainable framework in tourism innovation systems is fundamental.

Another topic analyzed in the master thesis has been the measurement of innovation in tourism. In this regard, the complexity of measuring some of the topics mentioned earlier, such as interactive learning, knowledge transfer or collaboration with the environment, has been studied in detail. Traditionally, innovation in tourism has been related to the acquisition of knowledge rather than knowledge production. This has been mainly the result of the application of surveys based on traditional input and output indicators such as R&D, investments in capital goods or patents. Nevertheless, the measurement approach that would be the most appropriate for the tourism industry is one that measures innovation activities rather than inputs and outputs. Some of the activities that can be here included are product development, investment in training, process management, creation of external linkages, motivation of bottom- up processes or interaction with the demand.


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