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The organisation of supply in a tourism destination : An analysis of a networked community - the Waitomo Caves Village

This thesis reconstructs the organisation of supply activities within a tourism destination. It uses a network theory perspective to explore the complex webbed relationships between these suppliers as they become mutually dependent upon resources, activities, markets and reputation. Its focus is on connectivity and fluidity, as it examines how the cooperative fine-grained exchanges become informal coordination mechanisms which act as glue to bind together the webbed patterns of complexity. This narrative explores how these socially complex relationships between organisations act as a source of strategic leverage for the network group. With this focus on connection, an ethnographic methodology provides a lens to observe these day to day practices of interorganisational activities. The object of study are the phenomena of shared routines, not the actors themselves. The context for this research is the Waitomo Caves tourism destination in New Zealand, with a single case study providing a depth and richness of detail. A middle-range grounded theory approach was enacted, which enabled the research process to begin with a skeletal framework. On-going discovery, illustration and analysis assisted in building an explanation of broad theoretical inter-relationships. The contribution of this thesis is the development of a process model of network coordination. It attests the flexibility and adaptability of network structures, with their multiple nodal positions supporting an array of informational advantages. The thesis data explained the important role these connections played in sourcing strategic leverage for the network. Absorptive capacity, relational absorptive capacity, relational embeddedness and structural embeddedness were all demonstrated as important attributes of the network organising process. Finally, the data supported the significant role social exchanges play as a structuring mechanism in organisational activities.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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