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  • Public defence: 2017-11-17 10:00 F229, Östersund
    Margaryan, Lusine
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Tourism Studies and Geography.
    Commercialization of nature through tourism2017Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This dissertation contributes to developing knowledge on the commercialization of natural resources through tourism. This is achieved by means of understanding the main avenues through which natural resources are commercialized, and analyzing the operational setting of tourism firms. The focal area is nature-based tourism– a type of tourism, taking place incomparatively unmodified natural areas, which has emerged as a powerful gravitational force, integrating an increasing variety of natural resources into the commercial domain. The point of departure is the assumption that fornature-based tourism firms, nature is simultaneously the main object of commercialization and the operational setting, where this commercialization happens. The attention here is, therefore, on the supply side, i.e. on the smalland micro firms, acting as the agents of commercialization. The empirical data come primarily from a nation-wide survey among the nature-based tourism firms in Sweden, generating the most comprehensive information about this sector to date. Additional data come from in-depth interviews and observations among the nature-based tourism firms in Sweden, as well assecondary sources (official statistics on natural resources and a survey in Norway).

    This is a compilation thesis, i.e. it consists of a cover essay and five individual papers. The cover essay offers a bird’s eye view on all the papers, frames them theoretically and synthesizes all the findings into a coherent contribution. Papers I and II create the foundation, necessary for understanding the processes of nature commercialization and the operational setting of naturebased tourism firms, while Papers III, IV and V provide supplementary insights into these areas of inquiry. Paper I starts by building on existing knowledge in outdoor recreation to approach nature-based tourism. Paper II focuses on the operational setting, conceptualizes and explores its dimensions. Building on this, Paper III looks at how the presence of various amenities in the operational setting can explain the localization patterns of the firms on various geographical levels. Paper IV focuses on the operational setting dimensions omitted in the previous papers, i.e. the continuous efforts of the firms to negotiate the inherent uncertainty within the setting. Finally, Paper V looks at various characteristics of nature-based tourism firms to understand the specifics of sustainability strategies.

    The main findings in these five papers demonstrate that the nature-basedtourism is an active integrator of a wide variety of natural resources into the commercial domain, and approaching them from the supply perspective provides an additional understanding of the sector. This approach suggests that the nature-based tourism supply could be understood not only from the perspectives of tourist activities offered, but also from the perspective of operational setting preferences (e.g., the axes of high-low specialization, and high-low dependence on specific setting features), providing a new insight into the ways of nature commercialization through tourism. The operational setting itself becomes an important resource, being simultaneously part of the supply and the environment of a tourism system, bringing together a multitude of dimensions and actors. The resources nature-based tourism depends on defy ‘commercialization-friendly’ criteria, creating a context of uncertainty and demanding higher levels of creativity and agency on behalf of the firms. Commercialized nature experiences become important not only for specialized, skill- and equipment-intensive activities, but also for rather simple and relaxed ones, on both international and domestic markets. This suggests the growing importance of commercial nature-based tourism, linked to growing sustainability challenges. The sustainable resource use within the Scandinavian nature-based tourism context, however, is deeply entrenched inunique local specifics, and the entrepreneurial characteristics are not always compatible with market-based sustainability policies, suggesting the need for more fine-tuned approaches.

  • Public defence: 2017-11-24 13:00 F229, Östersund
    Pierre, Anne
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Business, Economics and Law.
    The influence of wicked problems on community-based entrepreneurship in rural Sweden2017Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Entrepreneurship research has, since the 1930’s, mainly focused on so-called traditional entrepreneurship and studies have to a large part discussed management processes. During the past 40 years social entrepreneurship research and research into community-based entrepreneurship and practice has emerged, as a response to changes in society due to global, regional and local events that affect local development. Such changes often affect rural areas severely, for instance depopulation, which often leads to a decrease in small business development, a decrease in social services such as healthcare, schools, banks and road maintenance, and a decrease in local and regional economic health. These structural changes are usually due to political decisions taken at a governmental level, which trickle down through society and affect local economic development and, indirectly, small business development. Local enthusiasts, business associations and in particular entrepreneurs often try to meet these structural changes through community-based entrepreneurship, which involves processes through which new businesses are created and can operate within the existing social structure of the local community. However, the practical problem is that there are factors influencing communitybased entrepreneurship and hence the establishment of small businesses and local development, such as wicked problems, which in the rural context in this thesis refers to structural changes and complex relations. The theoretical and practical research gap is found in that there is a lack of studies exploring how wicked problems influence community-based entrepreneurship in rural contexts. Complex relations can be found in the three pillars of institutions based on regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive elements, where the same person can have many different roles, hence influencing local rural development. For this thesis, the theories of community-based entrepreneurship, state-society synergy, and small business development have been used to explore how wicked problems (structural changes and complex relations) influence community-based entrepreneurship in rural Sweden. Two literature studies were made on social entrepreneurship and community-based entrepreneurship, followed by three case-studies. The context of the first case-study was rural areas in the county of Jämtland and is based on results from the findings in the cross-disciplinary project on societal entrepreneurship in sparsely populated areas (SESPA). The context of the second case-study is the municipalities of Berg, Krokom and Östersund in the county of Jämtland, where a total of 23 interviews were conducted with farm owners, participants in the service social farming and municipal officials and politicians. The context of the third casestudy is the municipality of Sorsele in the county of Västerbotten and the municipality of Berg in the county of Jämtland, which are both situated in rural areas, where a total of 39 interviews were conducted with owners of small businesses, municipal officials and politicians. Results show that the development of community-based entrepreneurship research has furthered the possibilities to better understand the processes of entrepreneurship in local rural contexts. Furthermore, results indicate that the complex relations influencing communitybased entrepreneurship that appear in this thesis call for caution. The structural changes that are interrelated with community-based entrepreneurship are, in spite of facilitating increased interest, not necessarily positive for local rural development. It was also seen that the rural context studied is a semi-stable institution, indicating that local rural development, and thereby small business development, is incoherent. If a municipality and the owners of small businesses are well in tune with the regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive elements in their rural context, have an understanding of what wicked problems are, and if they are properly understood and dealt with, then there is a chance that, although experiencing a semistable institution, local rural development can be attained. The theoretical contributions of this thesis pertain to entrepreneurship in rural contexts, community-based entrepreneurship, and wicked problems. This thesis concludes that wicked problems, in the shape of structural changes and complex relations, are present in the rural contexts studied. These wicked problems influence communitybased entrepreneurship by being disruptive factors, affecting policy creation and implementation by the municipality. A flow-chart model has been created in order to show how wicked problems influence community-based entrepreneurship and hence local rural development. 

    The full text will be freely available from 2017-10-26 13:00