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A Proposed Model of Firm Level Innovativeness: the Small Tourism Firm

A Proposed Model of Firm Level Innovativeness: the Small Tourism Firm

Walsh, Margaret and Lynch, Patrick and Harrington, Dr. Denis A PROPOSED MODEL OF FIRM LEVEL INNOVATIVENESS THE SMALL TOURISM FIRM. In: The Toursim and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference (THRIC), 16th - 17th of June, 2009, DIT.

National reports advise that in order for the tourism industry to restore its competitiveness, Ireland must enhance the innovativeness of the tourism firm (The National Development Plan, 2007-2013: Tourism Policy Review, 2003). Despite this realisation, and despite numerous calls to explore tourism innovativeness, few research agendas have addressed this issue. Theory suggests that if small tourism firms can strategically practice innovation, limited resources will be utilised to maximum capacity and profitability, subsequently improving competitiveness (Sundbo et al., 2007). However, extant research focuses on product-level innovation, ignoring the reality that small firms need to continually innovate as a firm-level strategy, especially since “innovations in and of themselves are not necessarily the key to long-term business success” (Siguaw et al., 2006: 556). A tourism firm’s long-term survival may rely more on overall strategic-level innovativeness that produces dynamic capabilities, which in turn enhances the development of innovations, and less on actual innovations (Abernathy and Utterback, 1978; Trott, 1998). Moreover, relatively little reported empirical research details how firms can achieve firm-level innovativeness (Markides, 1998), remaining a central dilemma for most small firms. Researchers must meticulously examine the construct of innovativeness itself, since it has received conflicting conceptualisations; often used interchangeably with the terms ‘innovation orientation’ and ‘innovation’. Consequently, the current literature appears to lack consensus regarding what exactly constitutes ‘innovativeness’, resulting in an extensive knowledge gap. To date, little significant international research activity on innovativeness within the SME, and in particular within the small tourism firm, has emerged from the extant literature. Drawing from prior work found in the organisational, product, tourism services, consumer, and psychology literatures over the past 48 years, this paper aims to theoretically propose a new multidimensional conceptualisation of firm-level innovativeness. In essence, the primary objective of this paper is to dissect the innovativeness construct and identify its key dimensions from the perspective of the firm.