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The strategic management of ecotourism firms : a resource-based view


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Crispin, SH 2010 , 'The strategic management of ecotourism firms : a resource-based view', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Ecotourism has emerged as a major growth segment within the global tourism industry.
While it has attracted considerable academic attention, what has been lacking is a
systematic study of the strategic management of successful ecotourism firms - that is, by
definition, firms that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. This thesis
addresses this gap in two ways. Firstly, it employs the resource-based view of the firm to
identify the strategically relevant resources possessed by successful ecotourism firms.
Secondly, it seeks to identify some of the issues' ecotourism firms face in the development
and management of their research base.
A case study method is employed in this study. This allowed a detailed understanding of the
resources and capabilities possessed by ecotourism businesses, and the manner in which
these resources are used to ensure their sustainability. In total, three case businesses were
included in this study — Kiwi Dundee Adventure, Inala Nature Tours, and Jemby Rinjah EcoLodge.
Three criteria were used for selecting businesses for inclusion in this study. Firstly,
they had openly marketed themselves as being ecotourism businesses. Secondly, their
business operations had to comply with Ecotourism Australia's definition of ecotourism
product. Thirdly, they had to have operated continuously for over 10 years and currently be
making a net profit. Compliance with these criteria was thought to be indicative of a
sustainable ecotourism business. Primary data was collected through semi-structured
interviews and participant observation, while secondary data was gained from business
documents, promotional materials, and local and international press. Data analysis was
facilitated by the use of the software package NVivo 7.0
Analysis revealed four strategically relevant resources across the cases — nature,
environmental management and nature conservation, reputation, and network
relationships. Nature (a unique natural environment) was found to be critical for attracting
ecotourists to a destination. The 'uniqueness' of nature was in part linked to the
uniqueness of the ecosystem and the plant and animal species found at the destination, and partly due to the social construction of these places as examples of rare and unique natural
capital and different from the physical environment in the ecotourist's home country.
Similarly, proactive environmental management and nature conservation processes were
critical to success in the ecotourism sector. Participation in such programs helped to protect
the natural resource base upon which the business depends, and helps demonstrate the
environmental credentials of the business. Reputation was important because it helped to
create awareness of ecotourism firms with potential customers, and to encourage others to
undertake nature conservation. Network linkages to other businesses and associations
were also found to be critical to an ecotourism firm's ability to increase the scope and scale
of their operations, while at the same time avoiding many of the associated risks with
business expansion.
Analysis also revealed three key issues associated with the development and management
of these strategically relevant resources. Firstly, ecotourism firms often did not own the
resources upon which they depended for their success. This created uncertainty about
access and the future viability of the firm. Secondly, linkages existed between resources,
necessitating in integrated approach to resource management. Finally, a sustainable
business ethic was central to resource management. Such a business ethic fostered a focus
on long-term objectives, and a willingness to balance economic, environmental, and social
Detailed theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed, and directions
for future research are suggested.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Crispin, SH
Keywords: Ecotourism, Tourism
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the Author

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library but NOT for copying until 5th November 2012. After that date, available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Rationale and introduction to the thesis -- Ch. 2. Background to the tourism industry -- Ch. 3. The nature of ecotourism -- Ch. 4. The strategic management of ecotourism firms -- Ch. 5. Research methodology -- Ch. 6. Kiwi Dundee Adventures -- Ch. 7. Inala Nature Tours -- Ch. 8. Jemby-Rinjah Eco-Lodge -- Ch. 9. Cross-case analysis and discussion -- Ch. 10 Conclusion

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