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Behind the Scenes of Rural Tourism: A Study of Entrepreneurship in Micro-Firms
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Economics, Geography, Law and Tourism. Dalarna University. (ETOUR)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7255-9338
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Sustainable development
Hållbar utveckling
Abstract [en]

This thesis is a study of entrepreneurship in tourism micro-firms in rural areas. It provides a close, behind-the-scenes look at how owner-managers of tourism micro-firms generate value, overcome limitations, and promote change through interactions with their customers, their local environment and actors in their social networks. This thesis reflects an appreciation for the significant role that micro-firms play in rural tourism, and it builds on the premise that to understand rural tourism – one must study micro-firms. The idiosyncratic context within which tourism micro-firms operate, and their extensive role in the rural tourism system dictate that these actors should receive explicit academic attention. The guiding research question is – How do owner-managers of tourism micro-firms interact with their environment to create value and overcome limitations? I investigate this question through the study of four entrepreneurial behaviours: opportunity discovery, resource mobilisation, utilising network ties, and knowledge sourcing. Each behaviour stands in the focus of one of the four research papers that comprise this thesis. I explore these entrepreneurial behaviours from an interpretivist stance by creating knowledge through an examination of the entrepreneurs' subjective interpretations of their actions. The empirical data come, mainly, from in-depth interviews with owner-managers of tourism micro-firms in rural Sweden. Essentially, I propose that entrepreneurship in tourism micro-firms is best explained using the entrepreneurial bricolage framework. This is primarily expressed by the notion of ‘making do’ as the creative use of local features for tourism purposes and finding workable solutions in the entrepreneurs' spatial environment and ego-networks. The entrepreneurs' embeddedness in the local community enables their long-terms activity and access to resources that are beyond their control. Likewise, personal compatibility and trust determine whom the entrepreneurs turn to for help and collaboration. Finally, I propose three themes that could help to make sense of entrepreneurship: that tourism micro-firms are effectively an embodiment and extension of their owner-managers; that entrepreneurship is the dynamic and incremental process of manoeuvring through contextual tensions and; that smallness is the principal quality that enables tourism micro-firms to interact with their environment and generate value. By applying contemporary entrepreneurship theories in tourism contexts, this thesis contributes to theoretically advancing the interrelated research fields of tourism entrepreneurship and small business.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University , 2020. , p. 109
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 334
Keywords [en]
Tourism entrepreneurship, rural tourism, micro-firms, entrepreneurial behaviours, spatial bricolage
National Category
Human Geography Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-40264ISBN: 978-91-88947-75-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-40264DiVA, id: diva2:1477934
Public defence
2020-11-20, Clas Ohlson, Humanistgatan 2, Borlänge, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-10-23 Created: 2020-10-20 Last updated: 2020-10-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The entrepreneur–opportunity nexus: discovering the forces that promote product innovations in rural micro-tourism firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The entrepreneur–opportunity nexus: discovering the forces that promote product innovations in rural micro-tourism firms
2019 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, ISSN 1502-2250, E-ISSN 1502-2269, Vol. 19, no 1, p. 47-65Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to investigate what sets in motion the process that results in product innovations in rural micro-tourism firms. The point of departure is to place entrepreneurship as a process that precedes innovations. This approach enables the application of the opportunity-based perspective, on the study of 40 new tourism products. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with owner-managers of micro-tourism firms in rural Sweden. The focus of the analysis is on the formation of the entrepreneur–opportunity nexus. The findings suggest that in forming the nexus, three types of forces are at play: internal, supply chain dynamics and reaction to changes. The notion of triggering forces adds a new dimension to the study of entrepreneurial opportunities. The theoretical contribution of this paper to tourism research is twofold. First, it points at the generating moment as a step towards theorising innovations, and second, the findings contribute to the growing knowledge base about entrepreneurial behaviour in micro-tourism firms in rural areas. Finally, in a practical manner, the findings of this study should encourage tourism entrepreneurs to invest in exploring the value chain, regard tourists as sources of knowledge and be attentive to changes in circumstances.

Keywords
Micro-tourism firms, product innovation, opportunity-based perspective, entrepreneurship, rural tourism
National Category
Business Administration Social and Economic Geography Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-32131 (URN)10.1080/15022250.2017.1383936 (DOI)000451683500003 ()2-s2.0-85030685642 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2017-11-23 Created: 2017-11-23 Last updated: 2020-10-20Bibliographically approved
2. “Making do” in rural tourism: the resourcing behaviour of tourism micro-firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“Making do” in rural tourism: the resourcing behaviour of tourism micro-firms
2020 (English)In: Journal of Sustainable Tourism, ISSN 0966-9582, E-ISSN 1747-7646, Vol. 28, no 7, p. 1003-1021Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We propose entrepreneurial bricolage as a framework that enables the description, explanation and exploration of the modus operandi of tour- ism micro-firms. Particularly, the notion of spatial bricolage constitutes fertile ground for further research and theoretical advances of sustain- able tourism entrepreneurship. The potential for rural tourism develop- ment is conditioned by entrepreneurs’ capability to utilise local physical and non-material resources sustainably. Thus, knowledge about the resourcing behaviour of micro-firms is paramount to understanding their role in promoting sustainable tourism. This study explores how rural micro-firms interact with their spatial environment to design tour- ism value propositions. Our analysis is based on interviews with eight- een owners-managers of tourism micro-firms in rural Sweden. We portray spatial bricolage as a resourcing behaviour that builds on the re-interpretation of existing resources, the unique features of the destin- ation and community involvement. The findings suggest that resource transfer facilitates sustainable development since it enables long-term planning and validates the entrepreneurs’ operation. Moreover, their small-scale enables rural tourism firms to utilise local resources in non- exploitative ways that minimise disturbance for other stakeholders.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2020
Keywords
Embeddedness, micro-firms, resource mobilisation, Spatial bricolage, sustainable development, tourism entrepreneurship
National Category
Social and Economic Geography Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-38332 (URN)10.1080/09669582.2020.1715993 (DOI)000508535000001 ()2-s2.0-85078424825 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2020-01-31 Created: 2020-01-31 Last updated: 2020-10-20Bibliographically approved
3. Alters & functions: exploring the ego-networks of tourism micro-firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Alters & functions: exploring the ego-networks of tourism micro-firms
2021 (English)In: Tourism Recreation Resarch, ISSN 0250-8281, E-ISSN 2320-0308, Vol. 46, no 3, p. 319-332Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

For tourism micro-firms, networks embody a potential to pursue opportunities and compensate for lack of resources and missing skills. This study explores the ego-networks of tourism micro-firms. A focused approach that uses multiple name generators is applied to elicit significant alters and understand their functional characteristics. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with owner-managers of tourism micro-firms in rural Sweden. A block-model presents an abstract image of a tourism micro-firm’s ego-network. It accounts for alters’ attributes, location and number of functions they fulfil. The networks incorporate social, business-related and interest-based ties. The analysis brings forth the meaning that entrepreneurs assign to their relationships. Ownermanagers of tourism micro-firms incline to utilise existing ties in their immediate environment for multiple purposes. Cognitive proximity and personal comparability are crucial factors in determining with whom entrepreneurs associate. The micro-perspective provided by this study contributes to the growing body of tourism literature on networks, entrepreneurship and microfirms. Particularly, the block-model and identified network functions constitute a framework within which researchers can study the ego-networks of micro-firms. For entrepreneurs, this framework is a valuable reference point against which they can develop their ego-networks and understand how they can utilise the knowledge and resource embedded in them.

Keywords
Tourism micro-firms; egonetworks; rural tourism; tourism entrepreneurship; tourism networks
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-39722 (URN)10.1080/02508281.2020.1808933 (DOI)000568449900001 ()2-s2.0-85090141868 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2020-09-03 Created: 2020-09-03 Last updated: 2021-08-09Bibliographically approved
4. The 'customer journey': Learning from customers in tourism experience encounters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The 'customer journey': Learning from customers in tourism experience encounters
2018 (English)In: Tourism Management Perspectives, ISSN 2211-9736, E-ISSN 2211-9744, Vol. 28, p. 201-210Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

For micro-tourism firms, customers are a readily-accessible and highly important knowledge source that often remains unutilised. This study explores firm–customer encounters along the customer journey as learning opportunities. Based on data collected through participant observations, interviews and a review of user-generated content, this case study provides an in-depth look into the customer journey, with a Swedish micro-tourism firm. The findings suggest that the possibility to generate knowledge about experiential purposes is conditioned by the firm's ability to bestow encounters with an experience-like quality and promote the customers' transformation into participants. This is facilitated by involving customers, adopting an experiential discourse and utilising in-situ supporting moments to socialise. Firms can also learn about customers' subjective perception of value from user-generated content. The study concludes that in the context of learning from customers, small size provides micro-tourism firms with an opportunity to engage in personal relationships with their customers.

Keywords
Experience encounters, Customer knowledge, Customer journey, Micro-tourism firms, Value in experience, Guided-tours
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-34470 (URN)10.1016/j.tmp.2018.09.002 (DOI)000448054900019 ()2-s2.0-85053495691 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2018-09-21 Created: 2018-09-21 Last updated: 2020-10-20Bibliographically approved

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Yachin, Jonathan Moshe

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