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Innovation typology in tourism

Principal Findings

The master thesis contributes to the theory of innovation in tourism in three forms. First, with a classification of innovation types. Next, with the identification of the determinants of innovation in the tourism sector. Finally, with an innovation typology. These findings have been based on the review of generic literature on innovation as well as the analysis of specific studies for the tourism sector.

Regarding the topic of innovation types, a classification with four categories has been suggested: product, process, organizational and marketing innovations. Although the four categories are relevant, the investment on one type or another depends on several factors, such as firms’ strategy, sources of knowledge or technological opportunities. These innovation types may overlap. For instance, product and process innovations might be both part of the same service. Besides, the subject of degree of innovativeness has also been analyzed. It has been indicated that innovation in tourism is based on incremental changes rather than radical innovations. In this regard, the benefits of incremental innovations in the long term can be equivalent to those of radical innovations, or even greater. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that in the tourism sector tangible as well as intangible innovations emerge.

Next, the theory on sources of innovation has been adapted to the characteristics of the tourism sector in order to identify the determinants of innovation in tourism at organizational and macro levels. Since the determinants of innovation in the tourism sector can be found within as well as outside the sector, the suggested classification includes tourism organizations and institutions as well as external actors. At the level of the organization several determinants influence innovation performance. These are: type of activity, organization’s size, diversification of innovation, organization’s structure and strategy, innovation trajectory, collaboration with the environment, sources of external knowledge, knowledge and competences inside the organization, absorptive capacity, and type of innovation. Besides, the determinants at the macro level are: heterogeneity, linkages between actors, institutional framework, technological trajectory, diversification and interaction with the demand.

The third and last contribution of this master thesis has been the identification of an innovation typology for the tourism sector. Although innovation trajectories have been traditionally related to whole industries, intra-industry differences are possible. In fact, they are necessary, since heterogeneity enhances innovation. Therefore, in order to differentiate technological trajectories within the tourism industry, a typology of innovation has been suggested. In this matter, the level of the organization has been taken into consideration. Furthermore, groups of organizations may form a regional cluster. In this case, the characteristics of the typology might be applied at the macro level as well. Four categories have been developed: supplier dominated, scale intensive, knowledge intensive and network intensive. Each typology has been described regarding the determinants of innovation indicated before. The objective of the typology is not that of creating boundaries between categories. It aims to understand different innovation trajectories within the tourism sector. As a result, these categories may be combined at the macro level, which is indeed an indication of heterogeneity. Thus, supplier dominated organizations need to acquire innovations from knowledge intensive organizations as well as from network intensive organizations. Next, scale intensive organizations produce their own innovations, but


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