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Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing


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NETWORK ANALYSIS OF TOURISM EVENTS: AN APPROACH TO IMPROVE MARKETING PRACTICES FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
AnneMarie Hede & Robyn Stokes
a a b

School of Hospitality, Tourism and Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law, at Victoria University, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, Victoria 8001, Australia E-mail:
b

School of Tourism, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, 4072, Australia E-mail: Published online: 10 Nov 2009.

To cite this article: AnneMarie Hede & Robyn Stokes (2009) NETWORK ANALYSIS OF TOURISM EVENTS: AN APPROACH TO IMPROVE MARKETING PRACTICES FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM, Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 26:7, 656-669, DOI: 10.1080/10548400903280758 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10548400903280758

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Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 26:656669, 2009 Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1054-8408 print / 1540-7306 online DOI: 10.1080/10548400903280758

NETWORK ANALYSIS OF TOURISM EVENTS: AN APPROACH TO IMPROVE MARKETING PRACTICES FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
Anne-Marie Hede Robyn Stokes

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ABSTRACT. Farmers markets have recently emerged as a new tourism event around the globe. Yet, little information is known about them. This article explores the network of stakeholders associated with farmers markets through a qualitative analysis over a period of time of an Australian farmers market. Multiple methods of data collection were used to build a case study of the farmers market. The findings highlight the acute need for this farmers market, and potentially many others that are similar, to strategically establish an appropriate and effective network of stakeholders for both organizational longevity and tourism sustainability. KEYWORDS. Network analysis, tourism events, farmers markets, strategy

INTRODUCTION
Events have long been viewed as a means to boost tourism (Roche, 1994; Jago & Shaw, 1999). Event organizations are, however, pulsating (Hanlon & Jago, 2000). In many cases, events fail due to inherent weaknesses in their operating structures and processes (Getz, 2002). While events play an important role in marketing destinations, and increasingly so in urban destinations (McClinchey, 2008), the issue of event sustainability is accentuated in rural destinations where these destinations are often challenged by a lack of human capital to build effective and longlasting organizational structures surrounding

their initiatives. In rural locations, where tourism development is often predicated on an events-related destination marketing strategy, the growth and profile of a regional destination is susceptible to the volatility associated with events. It is therefore imperative that more information is gained as to how events can be best marketed and managed to enhance their sustainability, and ultimately that of their host destination. Importantly, events have economic, social, and environmental implications for communities which underline the need for a sustainable management model that spans their multiple impacts. OConnor (2006) adds a regulatory or political dimension to the sustainability

Anne-Marie Hede, PhD, is Associate Professor in the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law, at Victoria University, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne, Victoria 8001, Australia (E-mail: anne-marie.hede@vu.edu.au). Robyn Stokes, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Tourism, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, 4072, Australia (E-mail: stokesr@ optusnet.com.au).
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framework which is also particularly important in an events network. Network analysis, which has been adopted for this study, has been shown to provide an appropriate conceptual basis for investigating the managerial framework of events. The primary research question guiding this study was: how do the defining characteristics of an event network impact upon the realization of tourism goals in a small rural community? More specifically, we ask how do the network characteristics of structure, leadership, and communication impact upon the achievement of the tourism goals of a farmers market and how can these network characteristics be enhanced to optimize tourism outcomes within a community? As such, this article adds to the body of knowledge on event networks by identifying and proposing a network model for tourism farmers markets. Farmers markets contribute to the social fabric of communities while offering alternative food distribution channels (Sage, 2003), and they are an increasingly important part of economic development and tourism marketing strategies for many rural destinations. The environmental sustainability dimension is also ever-present given the dominance of organically grown produce at these events. Yet, little is known about the marketing or management practices within them and how they operate within the context of achieving sustainable tourism. In addition to this, as food tourism is a form of special interest tourism, albeit with varying degrees of consumer motivation (McKercher, Okumus, & Okumus 2008), it an important area for empirical investigation. To begin, the article provides an outline of the seminal and current theory on business networks. In order to highlight the role and potential of farmers markets for tourism destination marketing strategies, an account of the rise of the farmers market as a global phenomenon is then provided. This is followed by an overview of the research method and the approach adopted for data collection and analysis. Findings of the research are linked with practical recommendations for

the structure, development, and maintenance of a network model for farmers markets. Observations on network models that may aid the business organization, marketing, and long-term sustainability of farmers markets feature in this work. Finally, the limitations of the research are acknowledged and future lines of inquiry are suggested.

NETWORK THEORY
A definition of networks as two or more connected business relationships (Anderson, Hakansson, & Johanson, 1994) is one that accounts for all potential actors that engage in relationships of exchange of an economic, social, or professional nature (Gulati, Nohria, & Zaheer, 2000). In such a network, interorganizational ties can include vertical relationships between suppliers and end-users (Heide, 1994); horizontal relationships among competitors (Cravens, Piercy, & Shipp, 1996); or relationships between individuals or agencies engaged in non-economic exchanges (Easton & Araujo, 1992). With farmers markets, these exchanges would include those undertaken with authorities or groups interested in cooperative tourism marketing. While network analysis is a nascent form of inquiry, a considerable body of knowledge has been uncovered about various network models. A number of trends have emerged in the analysis of networks which have led to various ways of describing and characterizing them (Axelsson, 1995; Moller, 1992; Uzzi & Dunlap, 2005; Scott, Cooper, & Baggio, 2007). Networks can be viewed as an overall set of relationships among a set of actors as well as a network of inter-related positions that can be mapped and studied (Easton, 1992). In this latter approach, the members locations in the network and the overall structure of the networkincluding the centrality of particular network members and their proximity to each other (i.e., closeness/distance and density of linkages)are explored. The extent to which interdependence is tight or loose among network participants is a primary indicator

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of a networks structure and it affects the ease with which new organizations or individuals are able to enter a network (Easton; Moller & Wilson, 1995). Importantly, networks change over time and the density and centrality of organizations within an active network continues to evolve (Bhat & Milne, 2008). From a leadership perspective, if a tight cluster of relationships emerges between two or three dominant participants in a network, the productive expansion of a network to include new producers or other agencies willing to lend their expertise to an event could be inhibited. The danger of this concept of over-embeddedness in a network or the presence of a core set of participants who largely consult among themselves is recognized (Baht & Milne; Uzzi, 1997; Uzzi & Dunlap, 2005). However, inclusion of all stakeholders in all initiatives happening within a network can also affect the success of collaboration (Gray, 1989). Clearly, events are planned and delivered in dynamic environments with limited resources and a multi-party collaborative effort presents a significant challenge for small- to mediumsized events, including farmers markets. As Bramwell and Lane (2000) indicate, decision making can become too complex and time consuming. Network forms and their structures, the membership and the leadership and processes that drive planning, decision making and communication in networks have been examined (Axelsson, 1995; Easton, 1992). The body of literature refers to network structures, the actors identities, their status, and the access that network members offer to other members and their resources (Gulati et al., 2000). Network identity is derived from the micronetwork of connections and knowledge that members bring to the network (Hakansson & Snehota, 1989). Huxham and Vangen (2000) emphasize the need to understand who is involved, their degree of representation, and the hierarchy and dynamism of membership. Such questions are of particular importance when festivals and events purport to represent the

interests or cultural characteristics of a local community. Membership issues can often be related to network leadership which sets the direction and tone of alliance relationships (Achrol, Scheer, & Stern, 1990). Where relationships between members exhibit strength, various processes for jointly controlling the activities and resources of the network usually develop (Easton, 1992). When drawing together a diverse set of stakeholders, the atmosphere conditions of the network can be influential in determining the success of the network as a planning and operational vehicle. For example, the network atmosphere may be typified by conflict, cooperation, coordination and/or collaboration between members and the closeness or distance of actors again impacts on this atmosphere (Brennan & Turnbell, 1997; Easton & Araujo, 1992; Hakansson, 1982). A level of cooperation may be built on formal or informal agreements and where this exists, there are common goals as well as functional and psychological factors that bind the relationships between network members (Bengtsson & Kock, 1999). The mainstream literature on networks indicates that organizations choose to select or emphasize different forms of interorganizational relationships in order to capitalize upon or realize their strategies (Osborn & Hagedoorn, 1997). Research on events networks has shed light on these issues in a number of event contexts. For example, Long (2000) explored the collaborative partnerships and networks of themed festivals; and Stokes (2006) has studied the inter-organizational relationships and networks that shape events tourism. Others have focused on the dynamics of relationship marketing among stakeholders of events (Collin-Lachaud & Duyck, 2002; Larson, 1998) including sponsors (Farrelly & Quester, 2003); and the networks of sports events (Erickson & Kushner, 1999; Olkokonen, 2001; Olkokonen, Tikkanen, & Alajoutsijarvl, 2000; Wolfe, Meenaghan, & OSullivan, 1998). Information about tourism events networks is, however, still limited

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despite some researchers.

increased

interest

among

FARMERS MARKETS AS TOURISM EVENTS


While the origins of farmers markets are in the Greek agora, African communities, Turkey, and in the medieval villages of Europe (Kowinski, 1985), they only recently re-emerged as contemporary business events. In the 1970s in the United States, there were fewer than 100 farmers markets in operation, but by the end of 2000 there were 2000 (Tippins, Rassuli, & Hollander, 2002). In the United Kingdom, the first farmers market was held in 1997; by the end of 2000, there were 240 farmers markets operating (Kirwan, 2005). Considerable growth has also been reported in New Zealand since the first market was opened in 1998; Guthrie, Guthrie, Lawson, and Cameron (2006) reported that 16 farmers markets were in operation in New Zealand by 2005. In Australia, the first farmers market was established in 1999, but by 2007 there were more than 80 farmers markets operating in Australia. Farmers markets are increasingly being used to underpin tourism destination marketing strategies. In New Zealand, Tourism Central Otago features the Otago Farmers Market as a key event for tourists to attend. The Province of New Brunswick, Canada, promotes its farmers market as being rich in multiculturalism in both food and language, bustling with activitythis is the City Farmers Market in downtown Bathurst (Province of New Brunswick, 2009). In Australia, the peak tourism organization for the State of VictoriaTourism Victoriaidentified farmers markets as a key part of its Tourism Plan (Tourism Victoria, 2004) with many destinations around the State of Victoria using farmers markets to stimulate tourism. While not always an one-off events, farmers markets exhibit most of the characteristics of tourism events. They are

limited in duration, have the potential to attract tourists to their host destinations both in the short- and long-terms, and can provide experiences for their attendees that are out of the ordinary (Getz, 1997; Jago, 1998). In line with the thoughts of Getz (1988) about tourism events, farmers markets can showcase their host destinations and build images of them in the marketplace. While many destinations turn to flagship projects and events for destination branding and re-imaging to develop tourism (Smith, 2006), farmers markets represent a grassroots event that can readily highlight the individual features, self-sufficiency, and creativity of a place or region. Furthermore, farmers markets are business events where businesses and consumers come together to exchange both goods and services. There is evidence to suggest, however, that farmers markets are not without their problems. Empirical evidence has identified that the continued success of Australias farmers markets is dependent on improving the management practices within farmers markets and increasing the diversity of the produce that is available at them (Coster & Kennon, 2005). Perhaps one of the most pressing issues for farmers markets is their definition. That is, what makes a farmers market different from a regular market? Or even a community fair? While these questions might be seemingly insignificant, loose interpretations of what a farmers market represents have the potential to affect the image and reputation of farmers markets more generally. These problems have been the impetus for farmers markets associations, internationally, to develop working definitions of a farmers market (see, for example, Tippins et al., 2002, p. 344 in the United States; Youngs, 2003 in the United Kingdom). The Australian Farmers Market Association (AFMA) has adopted the definition developed by the Australian Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC, 2001, p. IV). Essentially, the various definitions encapsulate the notion of fresh, farm/home-grown or made, and that

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sellers (the primary producers and valueadders) directly interact with buyers (consumers). In some cases, the definitions include boundaries as to where the produce originates from in relation to the location of the market. As a result, the issue of accreditation has emerged, with the U.K. and U.S. associations have already developed accreditation schemes.

METHOD AND BACKGROUND TO THE CASE STUDY


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Research Approach
For this research, an interpretive case method was chosen to reflect the realism paradigm of peeling off layers to unveil the reality within, or impacting upon, a phenomenon. Farmers markets and the networks that accompany them represent an underresearched field of inquiry. Furthermore, the complexities of the relationships among the various stakeholders (for example, attendees, traders, residents) may be difficult to distinguish from the surrounding environment. These complex conditions precipitate how and why questions (Yin, 1993, 1994) that are best addressed through qualitative methods. In this exploratory research on farmers markets, network density, leadership, and the processes employed for communication and knowledge sharing were central areas of interest.

Aireys Inlet community was not keen to replicate. Hence, the Farmers Market was established as an event which would be more likely to benefit the local community in the long-term than other types of events. The initial plan was to hold one farmers market in January 2006, but following the success of this first market four more markets were held. The number of vendors at the markets was relatively small compared to many other farmers markets: January (20), February (18), March (18), April (13), and May (11). Both primary produce (fruit and/or vegetables, herbs and spices, plants) and value-added produce (wine, preserves and jams, olive oil, take-out coffee and beverages, take-out food) were available at the market. The market re-commenced in October 2006. This study, however, is limited to an analysis of this period from January to May 2006.

Data Collection
Three sources of data were collected for this study. One set of data was collected through a series of convergent interviews (Dick, 1990) with network members to unveil the broad research issues impacting upon the network. Face-to-face interviews were conducted which progressively moved from open-ended questions to more structured questions on those issues where convergence became evident among the interviewees. Participants included the manager of the Farmers Market, representatives from the Aireys Inlet Tourism and Traders Association and the Surf Coast Shire. Five in-depth interviews were undertaken before a convergence of views about network characteristics and processes became evident. As few as six interviews of experts in the events tourism domain were undertaken by Stokes (2003) to achieve a high level of convergence among events experts about strategy making within networks. In the current study, the exploratory nature of the research, logistical issues that prohibited interviews with all network members, and the strength of convergence among chosen interviewees

Research Context
The research was undertaken on the Aireys Inlet Farmers Market (from hereon referred to as the Farmers Market) which was established in 2005 to take advantage of the tourism opportunities resulting from the Great Ocean Road (GOR) in Victoria, Australia. The establishment of the Farmers Market formed part of the tourism strategy for Aireys Inlet of which sustainability was an important consideration. Tourism is important for towns along the GOR, but the nearby towns of Lorne and Torquay are models of accelerated tourism which the

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defined the final pool of participants. The interviews ranged between 30 minutes to one hour in duration. Subsequent email communications with the interviewees also informed the study. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed for later analyses. All the data were examined using Nvivo7 (QSR International Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia), where a thematic approach to its analysis was taken. The second set of data was collected via covert participant observation at the five consecutive markets, with the protocols for observation focusing on attendee and vendor behavior. Resulting data were the field notes. Finally, local newspapers were also examined for information about the Farmers Market and Aireys Inlet. The data were examined to identify: (a) network structure and membership; (b) network leadership; and (c) network communication and knowledge sharing. The literature on networks, farmers markets, and events were considered when developing the conclusions about the findings.

FINDINGS Network Structure and Membership


The deliberate rather than emergent structure of this farmers market network was notable. One of the founding members of the Farmers Market Committee indicated that she recognized the need to create a structure within the community for the

market to sit under, because the farmers market wasnt going to be a sort of standalone incorporated bodyin fact, to get the grant we needed to have sort of an auspice. This opportunity was afforded by the Aireys Inlet Hall Committee which enabled the Committee to be established and became the official forum for the markets organization. The Committees operating network was soft and informal with no particular hierarchy beyond the network leader. The founding committee members were extremely committed to the notion of a farmers market for Aireys Inlet, and how it could promote tourism to the destination as well as foster social capital within the small rural community. Figure 1 presents the current network model for the Farmers Market. As can be seen from Figure 1, network participants for the Farmers Market were: the Farmers Market Committee, the Aireys Inlet Hall Committee, the Aireys Inlet Tourism and Traders Association, the Surf Coast Shire, the farmers (vendors), attendees, Geelong Otway Tourism, the Australian Farmers Market Association (AFMA), volunteers, and the media. Some of the network participants were not known to other network participants, hence, there is no direct connectivity recorded between them in the model. For example, while AFMA was very supportive of the Farmers Market, most network participants were not aware of its inclusion in the network. Previous research

FIGURE 1. Existing Network Model for the Aireys Inlet Farmers Market

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on network models has tended not to include the end-users (in this case attendees) in the models; however, recent discourse in the marketing and tourism literature positions end-users (for example, tourists, visitors, attendees) as co-creators of tourism (see, for example, Richards & Wilson, 2006; Li & Petrick, 2008). A limited set of embedded relationships with strong connections between some but not all players (Uzzi & Dunlap, 2005) was evident in the structure of this network. Both horizontal and vertical relationships were present within the network model. The interview data indicated that the relationships involving the Committee (which was largely represented by the market manager) were predominantly vertical. While the market manager had forged relationships with the majority of network participants, most other network members concentrated on their dyadic relationship with him rather than on further building ties with other network members. Accordingly, there was little complexity and density of ties across the network. The prevalence of vertical relationships between the market manager and other members of the network was, at times, acknowledged as being problematicsometimes seen as detracting from the markets sustainability and its potential to develop tourism in the destination. This finding underlines what authors, including Bhat and Milne (2008), refer to as over-embeddedness, albeit among a few players in this case, which can lead to sub-optimal decisions and a need for fresh ideas. One of the interviewees, representing the Aireys Inlet Tourism Traders Association, stated that: the one thing I want to do is try and make sure that it [the farmers market] continues and that the committee doesnt fall over because theyre all tired, and lack supportso weve got to make sure that that doesnt happen. He went on to say that the market manager had become a tired man, and felt that this

was a threat to the markets sustainability and the possibility of developing Aireys Inlet as a sustainable tourism destination. This fatigue was also noted by the researchers, and was discussed in detail in one of the latter interviews with the market manager.

Network Leadership
During this interview, it became clear that the market manager perceived himself as the leader in the network; as such he placed a considerable amount of pressure on himself which ultimately contributed to his fatigue and impacted his longer-term commitment to the role. Issues of centrality in the networks leadership in this case could limit the potential longevity of the event. The manager stated his relief when someone else took on the role of the market manager. He acknowledged: I was sort of glad that someone else stepped forward to be manager and relieved not be managing the market [any longer] because Im very committed and passionate about it [the farmers market] and when things come up, I just feel a necessity to handle them. Hence, it remains that while there is a tight cluster of relationships between two or three dominant committee members, the market manager is central to this cluster.

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Network Communication
There was considerable shepherding undertaken by the manager to direct network participants to other participants. In one interview with the market manager, he stated that: communication is best when its done directly with the personso if they [network participants] had an issue, I would just direct them to that person. Considerable one-to-one interaction outside of organized meetings seemed to typify the way communication occurred. Maintenance of the cohesiveness and proximity of this

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core cluster of network members involved a considerable amount of liaison and knowledge sharing on the part of the market manager. Coupled with the numerous dyadic relationships he had also forged with other members of the network, the market manager became overloaded with responsibilities and commitments. In one of the interviews, he said, it was just hundreds of hours of work.in between markets, like the week before, the [week] following market, it was like twenty hours up; twenty hours a week, emails, phone calls, you know. A lot of time was spent communicating with and recruiting farmers and value-adders to the market, rather than encouraging strategic alliances among the network members and developing a comprehensive and cohesive network. As such, the possibility of developing a deep level of cohesion in the markets network that included all members of the network was limited by the nature of network communication. The data obtained from participant observations at the markets, however, highlighted a somewhat different type of exchange within the overall farmers market network. The exchange between the vendors and the attendees tended to be horizontal, rather than vertical. This tends to reflect the view that suppliers and tourists co-create the tourism experience (Richards & Wilson, 2006; Li & Petrick, 2008). Indeed, many of the observed conversations between the vendors and the attendees involved reciprocal exchanges of information about the way in which the market produce was grown or could be stored or processed, for example. Attendees were also seen to exchange information among themselves about the produce, and about other topics, such as the local beaches or leisure opportunities in the local region. Communication between the vendors was often about the level of success they enjoyed at the Farmers Market and at other farmers markets in the region. Indeed, some of the vendors appeared to be wellknown to each other indicating that their network was well-established.

DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
Huxham and Vangen (2000) emphasize the need to understand who is involved in a network, their degree of representation, and the hierarchy and dynamism of membership. The findings here suggest that very few network participants were fully aware of the membership of the network and the way in which the model was evolving. For example, AFMAs participation in the network was undersold to most network members. AFMA is selective as to which farmers markets it endorses, and this aspect had the potential to offer the market, and subsequently Aireys Inlet, greater legitimacy in the marketplace. Healy (2000) notes the limitations of not including other stakeholders even though they that may not be involved in economic exchanges. Notable oversights from the network were the peak bodies for tourism and for farmers (i.e., Tourism Victoria and the Federated Farmers Association). The inclusion of these omitted parties would most likely have led to expert advice about tourism, rural and farming issues, and boosted the economic sustainability of the event. Inclusion of these stakeholders in the network model would likely have facilitated accelerated learning with regard to the overall management and promotion of the Farmers Market and Aireys Inlet as a unique destination along the GOR. Indeed, their presence may have also provided the political support for the event noted as a core aspect of sustainability by OConnor (2006). In addition, it may have also been useful to incorporate other farmers markets in the network. This may have facilitated the recruitment of a greater number of farmers and value-adders to participate in the market, hence addressing one of the biggest problems for farmers markets, that is, to attract a larger number of farmers and valueadders to participate in them to enhance their product diversity (Coster & Kennon, 2005). The environmental values of the event

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can also be boosted in this way through encouraging increased participation by organic food producers. While business networks include customer representation, to date, attendees (both local residents and tourists) and volunteers have not been incorporated explicitly in event networks. However, it is argued that in the case of farmers markets and other events of this type, their inclusion in the analysis of a network is integral to exploring the network in a comprehensive manner. Furthermore, the marketing literature (see, for example, Vargo and Lusch (2004); Lengnick-Hall (1996)) is increasingly acknowledging the role of consumers as co-creators of the value derived from the exchange. With regard to the structure of networks, Cravens et al. (1996) suggest that network models comprise both vertical and horizontal relationships. This was found to be the case for the Aireys Inlet Farmers Market. During the periods between the markets, the relationships in the network were very much dependent on the market manager and a number of vertical, highly centralized, relationships. In contrast, the nature of exchange at the markets tended to be horizontal rather than vertical. This is likely to be the result of the interactions between the vendors themselves and vendors and attendees. Special efforts were made by vendors to communicate messages that would facilitate attendees perceptions of authenticity similar to what Chhabra (2005) found in the case of the distribution of Scottish souvenirs. The potential future role of regular attendees in the markets network model was therefore a notable observation of the research and would assist in ensuring the social sustainability of the event. This finding supports Hanlon and Jagos (2000) suggestion that events are pulsating organizations. Close proximity between a limited set of actors or members was evident at the core of the network. These network members were very focused on optimizing the success of each market and the tightness of this nucleus of network actors ensured the markets shortterm survival. However, this concentration at

the core of the network also has the potential to sustain a centralized leadership and inhibit the injection of new ideas by a wider set of members. A more distributive leadership style might well occur in a less concentrated network model. Indeed, more linkages across a wider membership with a greater distribution of leadership responsibility for different tasks (related to both the operation and promotion of the market) is the recommended platform for a more productive network model.

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RECOMMENDATIONS: A MODEL FOR THE FUTURE


The study highlights how critical the nature of the relationships in the existing network model are to the sustainability of the farmers market and, thus, its potential to develop tourism to the host destination. A number of practical recommendations can be made to improve the efficacy of the network. The existing network model would benefit from a widening of the membership and for the network to become appropriately comprehensive. These modifications will assist to build communication and connectivity between a wider set of network members. Furthermore, there is also the need to establish the roles of the members in the network to promote the egalitarian distribution of tasks which will assist to enhance the longevity of membership, and ultimately, it is argued the sustainability of the market and tourism development in the destination. In this case, it was evident that time and energies devoted to communication to keep the market operational prohibited any sophisticated exploration of avenues to market the event as a tourist attraction. Importantly, this articles recommendations are made with the aim of improving the potential of the Farmers Market to attract tourists to Aireys Inlet both in the shortand long-terms. An enhanced network model for the Farmers Market is presented in Figure 2. The model is specific to the Farmers Market, but it is hoped that it will

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FIGURE 2. An Enhanced Network Model for the Aireys Inlet Farmers Market

resonate with farmers markets generally. As can be seen in Figure 2, the relationships between the network members are both horizontal and vertical. In addition to this, we recommend that while a farmers markets itself is likely to be central to the structure of the network, it is important that communication in the network acknowledges, and takes advantage of the naturally-occurring clusters of network members. For example, a number of like organizations (in this case tourism organizations and farming organizations) will naturally be clustered together. We suggest that any farmers market identifies the members of these naturally-occurring, and relevant, clusters and learn how they operate as a network in terms of their leadership, structure, and communication style. In this way, communication with network members can be efficient. It is likely that a farmers market will be a not-forprofit organization and also likely that it is managed and operated by volunteers. Hence, effective and efficient communication is important to minimize the chance of fatigue and burnout, which was very evident in the case study which formed the basis of this article. As can also be seen in Figure 2, the enhanced model has somewhat less concentration of members surrounding the farmers market which we suggest will promote a distributive leadership approach to the network model. A number of strategies, however, must be implemented to realize the enhanced network model. First, recruitment of strategic

network members needs to be done. In this case, Tourism Victoria and the Federated Farmers Association must be included as active members in future network models. These two organizations have the capacity to act as conduits to buyers (i.e., attendees/ tourists) and sellers (i.e., farmers), respectively. Organizations, including accommodation and hospitality providers in the vicinity of Aireys Inlet that already subscribe to Tourism Victorias strategic plan, for example, can promote the attractiveness of market attendance. This strategy will very likely increase tourist visitation to the destination, and tourism yield within the destination. Other potential network members that have yet to be introduced into the network include several valuable opinion leaders drawn from the regular market attendees who can champion tourism to Aireys Inlet using the farmers market as a catalyst. Second, greater transparency as to network members roles and relationships will enhance the realization of desired outcomes in relation to the Farmers Market and tourism within Aireys Inlet. For example, the networks efficacy would likely be enhanced if the extent of AFMAs involvement in the network were communicated to other network members. AFMA selectively endorses markets which are faithful to the farmers market concept. Market is a predominantly fresh food market, operating each month within the local hall precinct. It provides opportunities for farmers and value-adders to sell their produce directly to

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customers; it fulfils the strict criteria that AFMA has to be classified as an authentic farmers market. As such, greater awareness of the relationship between AFMA and the Aireys Inlet Farmers Market, would assist to consolidate the markets brand in the marketplace. The processes of brand transfer, particularly from AFMA to the Farmers Market, will assist network members to understand what the farmers market represents and will create an environment where the values of integrity and authenticity drive behaviors in the network. In addition to the aforementioned strategies, it would be useful to promote the development of horizontal relationships between all network members, particularly between those members that are active during the periods between each of the markets. By increasing the number of horizontal relationships in the network during this period, the overall style of the relationships in the network will become consistent. Further, such a style is more sympathetic with the notion of collaborative tourism. A more egalitarian division of tasks, greater interdependence between network members and less reliance on the leader, however, is required to achieve such a recommendation. While it is acknowledged that some relationships will be closer in proximity than others, for logistical reasons, the authors recommend the development of a less rigid cluster of central network relationships with less reliance on one or two network participants to improve the networks efficacy. Distributive leadership and a wider representation of tourism, farmer, managerial, and visitor stakeholders would provide for a more sustainable farmers market network in Aireys Inlet.

CONCLUSIONS
This article was aimed at extending the body of knowledge about event networks. It identified and critically examined the evolution and nature of the network for a farmers market. Analysis of farmers markets has

been limited, thus this article extends knowledge about farmers markets generally, and more specifically within the context of tourism. This study has shed light on the issues faced by an embryonic farmers market network and suggested practical steps toward enhancing the network model for the future. While this single case study approach has provided a snapshot in time and has its inherent limitations, rich insights acquired about the network can guide an expanded, longitudinal investigation among a wider set of the identified network participants. The centralized focus and the tightness of a cluster of network participants within this network may be detrimental in the longterm to its sustainability, and its potential to develop tourism in host destination. Despite the considerable commitment participants demonstrated toward the Farmers Market and to tourism development in Aireys Inlet, they have been unable to fully realize the potential they envisaged for both the Farmers Market and for tourism in Aireys Inlet. Yet, many other destinations have been able to harness the potential of Farmers Markets to develop tourist visitation to their host destinations. This fact indicates that the current network model is deficient in some way. This study provides insights into those deficiencies and the proposed enhanced model, represented in Figure 2, it is thought will address these deficiencies. It is argued, however, that the nature of farmers markets does not differ substantially from one to another. Further analysis is required to explore the existence of other network models within the context of farmers markets. Models of best practice, where the relationship between the farmers market and tourism is optimized, should be examined for their critical success factors. Insights gained from such research would enhance the outcomes of farmers markets. With a focus on achieving both authenticity and sustainability in the tourism experience to satisfy discerning tourists, the future of tourism farmers markets (with due

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attention to optimizing the networks that drive them), can make a valuable economic, social, and environmental contributions to their host destinations.

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SUBMITTED: August 15 2008 FINAL REVISION SUBMITTED: December 22 2008 ACCEPTED: January 5 2009 REFEREED ANONYMOUSLY

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