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Repairing innovation defectiveness in tourism

Repairing innovation defectiveness in tourism

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Tourism Management 23 (2002) 465\u2013474
Repairing innovation defectiveness in tourism
Anne-Mette Hjalager
Advance/1, Science Park, Gustav Wiedsvej 10, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Received 26 October 2001; accepted 24 December 2001
Abstract

Over the past couple of years, the term \u2018\u2018innovation\u2019\u2019 has increasingly been used to describe the development behaviour of tourism enterprises, destinations and the tourism sector. This article discusses various de\ufb01nitions. Examples of major changes in the tourism sector are given within the framework of a model that distinguishes between regular, niche, revolutionary, architectural innovations. It is stated that the tourism industryper se is not as crucial for innovations as the supplying and regulating sectors. Accordingly, policies aiming at innovation in tourism should not uniformly focus on the industry itself, but take into account the driving forces of other business sectors and the public sector.r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:Innovation; Driving forces; Knowledge; Transfer processes; Policies
1. Introduction

Over the past couple of years, the term \u2018\u2018innovation\u2019\u2019 has increasingly been used to describe the behaviour of tourism enterprises, destinations, and the tourism sector. However, this increasing use has frequently failed to take into account the fact that innovation is actually a core issue in a research tradition that has gained its own respect in social science. Notwithstand- ing, classical innovation theories have much to offer tourism research. This paper will outline some of the most common concepts and illustrate the potential for tourism research.

The paper, which starts by reviewing some main- stream research approaches in the \ufb01eld of innovation studies, is divided into the following sections:

*Some basic de\ufb01nitions.
*Examples of innovations in tourism\u2014the Abernathy
and Clark approach.
*How and where is the knowledge crucial to innova-
tion created?

*Structural preconditions for innovation in tourism.
*People as repositories of knowledge.
*The transfer process.
*Innovation policies\u2014applicable in tourism?

2. Some basic de\ufb01nitions

Schumpeter (1939) distinguishes betweeninventions andinnovations. Inventions are connected with basic scienti\ufb01c or technological research, and the term is used to de\ufb01ne genuine breakthroughs. Inventions are not aimed at speci\ufb01c industrial use. Innovations, on the other hand, are further developments of inventions, or just bright general ideas for making them into useful products. Thus, innovation is a rather pragmatic term that can also include minor adaptations of existing products and services. This broad de\ufb01nition of innova- tion is useful if we want to use the term to describe what goes on in tourism.

A typology of innovations provides a good guide for research and practice. This one is also inspired by the early works of Schumpeter, but has been adapted to re\ufb02ect the modern reality of a service sector (Hjalager, 1994). Innovations can take place in one or a combination of the following \ufb01ve categories:

Product innovationsconsist of changed or entirely new

services or products which are developed to the stage of commercialisation, and whose novelty should be evident to either producers, consumers, suppliers or competi- tors. Examples of new tourism products developed in recent years are: Loyalty programmes, environmentally sustainable accommodation facilities, and events based on local traditions.

E-mail address:anne-mette.hjalager@advance1.dk
(A.-M. Hjalager).
0261-5177/02/$ - see front matterr 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 2 6 1 - 5 1 7 7 ( 0 2 ) 0 0 0 1 3 - 4
Process innovationstend to raise the performance of

existing operations by means of new or improved technology, or by redesigns of the entire production line, e.g. as a result of process re-engineering. Process innovations can be combined with or result in sub- sequent product innovations. Recent examples of major process innovations in tourism are: Computerised management and monitoring systems, robots for clean- ing and maintenance, and self-service devices.

Management innovationsconsist of new job pro\ufb01les,

collaborative structures, authority systems, etc., often in combination with the introduction of new products, services and production technologies. Management innovations can result in staff empowerment through job enrichment, decentralisation, training, etc., or in de- skilling enforced by the (re)introduction of scienti\ufb01c management methods.

Logistics innovationsinclude a recomposition of

external commercial liaisons. This can affect the position of an individual enterprise in the value chain. Flows handled could be materials, transactions, infor- mation and customers. Recent logistics innovations in tourism include: Vertical linkages in the food and restaurant industries, integrated destination information systems, CRS systems and Internet marketing, and enhancement of airport hub systems.

Institutional innovationsgo beyond the individual

enterprise, representing collaborative and regulatory structures in small or larger communities. Institutional innovations transect public and private sectors, and set out new rules of the game. Examples, with implications for tourism, include: reform of the \ufb01nancial incentives that restructure social or health tourism concepts; destination management systems and units that control access to vulnerable areas; and the setting up or change of credit institutions and changes in the conditions for obtaining \ufb01nance.

On the whole, enterprises are basically conservative; if they are not challenged or threatened they will tend to stick to usual procedures. Innovation research operates with two different motivators that enforce or speed up changes at the enterprise level, namely push and pull mechanisms.Push factors are new technologies and appropriated methods that offer more ef\ufb01cient solutions to the production process, or make the product more attractive to the customer.Pull factors are re\ufb02ected in the demand from individual customers or (pressure) groups of customers. Both factors operate at the same time, and it is useful to distinguish carefully between them, particularly in the de\ufb01nition of policy initiatives.

3. Examples of innovations in tourism\u2014the Abernathy
and Clark approach
In their explanation of the establishment and devel-
opment of the automobile industry, Abernathy and

Clark (1985) developed a model that also applied to other sectors. The model\u2019s horizontal axis indicates whether speci\ufb01c innovations make existing business linkages obsolete, or whether they lead to an entrench- ment of existing linkages between enterprises. The vertical axis indicates the knowledge and competences used for the production of products or services. In some cases, old ideas and quali\ufb01cations become outdated and need to be replaced, while in other cases adaptation and further development of existing structures are more relevant (Fig. 1).

The model illustrates four types of innovations:
Regular, niche, revolutionary and architectural.Each

has a different constellation of consequences in terms of knowledge and collaborative structures. Architectural innovations are the most wide-ranging, illustrated by the \ufb01rst T-Model Ford, which in\ufb02uenced the concepts of road infrastructure as well as political economy and industrial relations traditions. Accordingly, architectur- al innovations imply changes not only in the industry, but also in the society in which it will be used. The least radical are regular, incremental innovations, but whose impact over a period of time can become quite considerable.

Examples of regular innovations in tourism include:
*New investments in larger structures, e.g. bigger
hotels with more comprehensive facilities.
*Removing structural bottlenecks through changes in
technology or time-scheduling procedures.
*Internal training of personnel, resulting in enhanced
or speedier service, or enabling additional advantages
to be offered to customers.
*Upgrading quality standards in well-de\ufb01ned ways,
e.g. from a two- to a three-star classi\ufb01cation.
*Approaches to new markets with the same methods
and products.

Niche innovations tend to challenge collaborative structures, but not basic competences and knowledge. With regard to innovation in tourism, researchers and practitioners most often focus on opportunities in this category. Examples include:

*New categories of company could be invited to enter

the tourist sector or destination as a supplement to existing companies, e.g. a franchiser not previously represented or a foreign investor. Suppliers of other complementary products could be convinced that tourism is a market for them, e.g. certain types of retailers or providers of health services.

*Establishment of marketing alliances, e.g. with
specialised tour operators in order to access new
customer groups.
*New combinations of existing products. There are
many types of activity, e.g. theme co-ordinating
calendars, signboarding, event-making, etc.
A.-M. Hjalager / Tourism Management 23 (2002) 465\u2013474
466
*Activating small-scale tourism resources, e.g. in
connection with agriculture.

While revolutionary innovations keep external struc- tures unchanged, they have a radical effect on compe- tences. A whole sector can, for example, be affected by an aggregate shift in required skills and competences over a longer period of time. At the enterprise or destination level, revolutionary innovations can have the following outcomes:

*Diffusion of new technology in enterprises, so that

staff either stop doing what they used to do or do it in other ways. An extreme case is the combined development of kitchen equipment and the supply of pre-cooked items, which removes cooking skills from restaurants.

*Electronic marketing and sales is different from
distributing brochures and pamphlets, but the custo-
mers and suppliers may well be the same.

Architectural innovations tend to change overall structures, and establish new rules that remodel the concept of tourism:

*Exploitation of a new resource, e.g. Arctic tourism,

where the building of ice hotels and attractions requires new designers, builders, equipment, market- ers, etc.

*Rede\ufb01ning infrastructure, e.g. in response to envir-

onmental regulation. A ban on new tourism facilities along the coast demands a rede\ufb01nition of the economic potential in other places.

*Creation of other ways of accessing knowledge in
centres of excellence.

The Abernathy and Clark model provides a frame- work for a clearer understanding of the nature of particular and well-de\ufb01ned innovations. But the model can be blamed for being too static and descriptive. For example, an enhancement of the Internet might be a

Regular innovations
Promoting new investments that
raise productivity
Training proprietors and staff to
operate more efficiently
Incremental raise of quality and
standards
Niche innovations

Promote the entry of new
entrepreneurs to exploit
business opportunities

Encourage firms to enter new
marketing alliances
Combine existing products in
new ways
Revolutionary innovations
Diffusion of new technology to
the business firms
Introducing new methods that
shift composition of staff
Attachment to the same markets
but with new methods
Architectural innovations

Creating new events and attractions that demand a reorganisation

Redefining the physical or legal
infrastructure

Creating centres of excellence
that treat and disseminateknew
operational research based
knowledge

Disrupt/ make
obsolete existing
competence

Conserve/
entrench
existing
linkages

Conserve/en-
trench existing
competence

Disrupt
existing/
Creating
new
linkages

Fig. 1. The Abernathy and Clark model\u2014a tourism perspective.
A.-M. Hjalager / Tourism Management 23 (2002) 465\u2013474
467

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