What’s in it for Me?! Why tourism stakeholders need to collaborate

Posted on April 7, 2013

Posted in: Categories Uncategorised

The development of a local community or regional cluster promotes local competition while simultaneously “encouraging…innovation, growth and productivity” of organizations; therefore enhancing the overall quality of products within the cluster.  Porter asserts that by participating in a cluster, organizations and stakeholders can take advantage of economies of scale and maintain autonomy without expending significant individual resources (Porter, 1998).  However, overcoming traditional competitive tendencies and building trust across disparate stakeholders within a cluster is a significant challenge, not to understate the point.  Stakeholder education and awareness should be the first strategy initiated towards overcoming stakeholder conflict.  As a part of this process, highlighting the benefits of collaboration to stakeholders may enlighten those with disparate perspectives.  Chinyio & Akintoye (2008) advise that among the many benefits of stakeholder integration, gaining commitment, facilitating empowerment, improving communication, resolving conflicts, and developing trust towards building community social capital are prominent.

Jackson & Murphy (2002) provide a comparison of the traditional industrial districts framework with Porter’s 1998 competitive cluster theory, exemplified through the introduction of seven new characteristics making up Porter’s theory.  While the industrial districts framework provides a foundation for building destination competitiveness, Porter’s new characteristics identify the need to recognize and emphasize the competitive advantage that may be realized by creating interconnections between heterogeneous actors within a defined geography.  This may be exemplified in the tourism sector through the promotion of “local heritage and sense of place distinctiveness as market attractions” (p. 38).  Keeping in mind Porter suggests that it is dissimilar but complimentary product and services vendors which differentiate a cluster from a homogenous group of similar competitors located in an industrial district.  Furthermore, in order to avoid the ubiquity of global commoditization, Jackson & Murphy highlight Porter’s assertion that “Cluster development efforts must embrace the pursuit of competitive advantage and specialization, rather than attempt to imitate exactly what is present in other locations. (p. 39)”

Chinyio, E., & Akintoye, A. (2008). Practical approaches for engaging stakeholders: findings from the UK. Construction Management & Economics, 26(6), 591-599. doi:10.1080/01446190802078310

Jackson, J., & Murphy, P. (2006). Clusters in regional tourism an Australian case. Annals of Tourism Research, 33(4), 1018-1035. doi:10.1016/j.annals.2006.04.005

Porter, M. (1998). Clusters and the New Economics of Competition. Harvard Business Review, 76(6), 77-90.