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Author : Jack Carlsen, Janne J. Liburd & Deborah Edwards
School/Work Place : Curtin Sustainable Tourism Centre, Australia (Jack Carlsen), University of Southern Denmark, Denmark (Janne Liburd), University of Technology Sydney, Australia (Deborah Edwards)
Contact : j.carlsen@curtin.edu.au
Year : 2010

This paper highlights the importance of new and established networks that underpin the innovation processes in sustainable tourism. It will draw on published literature as well as case studies to describe the various types of networks that have developed as an integral part of the innovation process (Carlsen et al, 2008). Innovation rarely occurs in isolation. Invariably, collaboration between like-minded individuals or agencies is essential in order to transform an idea or opportunity into a reality. In some cases, the links are not always intuitive or apparent and may come about through serendipity rather than strategy. In other cases, the formation of new networks gives rise to further innovation, creating a virtuous circle of process, product or service innovation. Established networks, such as those developed between government, industry and universities, are also a substantial source of innovation through research, knowledge development and dissemination.

True innovation in tourism businesses is nebulous and often driven by external forces such as changing customer needs, demographics, technology, government policy, environmental conditions, social imperatives or the supplier chain. Innovation in tourism can occur at different operational and sectoral levels and apply in a range of geographic locations. It can take the form of product, process, management or institutional innovations (Hjalager, 1996) and may be a disruptive or an incremental process (Schaper and Volery, 2007).

Innovation “remains fundamentally an application of knowledge” (Schaper and Volery 2007:64), which is best achieved through networks that serve as both repositories and generators of innovative ideas and information. There has since been a proliferation of product, process, managerial and institutional innovations that have embraced sustainability and this paper describes and analyses just a few examples of these. Hjalager (1996) indicates that networks are an integral part of the process of innovation, which often involves ‘redefinitions of interrelationships between actors’ (Hjalager, 1996, p. 202), although these relationships may be cooperative or confrontational, both still stimulate innovation (Tremblay, 2002). Hausman (2005) also finds that ‘ideological innovations, such as new management practices’ involve new partnerships as well as new ideas. Laing et al suggest that partnerships provide a means for the diffusion of innovations (Laing et al, forthcoming). Liburd and Hergesell (2007) recognise the importance of training, education and employee retention and succession to improve learning and innovation for sustainable tourism in the European North Sea Region.

People, as customers or operators, are at the core of innovation in tourism. Hence networks are critical and the social and cultural environment has to be supportive of innovative ideas and opportunities if they are to be realized. To shed light on this conversation cross-case analysis (Patton 1990) was applied to eight case studies to compare and contrast the different types and contexts of innovation and for an integrated overview of the network drivers, processes and barriers for innovation.


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» Think Tank X The Importance of Networks for Innovation in Sustainab... file 4110 Oct 13, 2013

This paper highlights the importance of new and established networks that underpin the innovation processes in sustainable tourism. It will draw on published literature as well as case studies to describe the various types of networks that ...

Author: Jack Carlsen, Janne J. Liburd & Deborah Edwards 

Year: 2010 

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