This qualitative research study explores the role of adaptive capability development amongst tourism micro-firm owner-managers (OMs) in pursuit of the niche potential of the evolving senior tourism market. Projected demographic trends indicate that Europe is turning increasingly grey and that the tourism sector is one of the main beneficiaries of this transition. Nevertheless, beyond the marketing and segmentation literature, there is scant research on the potential of micro-tourism operators to strategically adapt to change through astute market sensing and resource transformation. Adaptive capabilities are especially relevant in resource stretched micro-firms, owing to the idiosyncrasies of the key decision-makers in continuously striving to configure their limited resources in new ways. This research adopts a subjectivist inductive approach, with the unit of analysis focused upon OM interaction with adaptive capabilities to facilitate senior tourism engagement. Primary data was harvested through 24 semi-structured qualitative interviews within the south east of Ireland. Findings indicate the importance of the cultural heritage realm in attracting senior tourists; however, geographic location alone does not automatically infer superior competitiveness. Additionally, there exists among some OMs the erroneous belief that the senior market is homogeneous and their perceived insignificance belies their untapped market potential. Limited resources hinder the level of adaptive capability engagement in tourism micro-firms and such impediments include insufficient finances, skills deficiencies, diminished entrepreneurial intent and a misaligned strategic fit. This study further acknowledges the role of operational capabilities within tourism micro-firms and explores higher capability development in greater detail than has been the case heretofore. Operational capabilities were shown to be key factors in not only maintaining the daily operation of the firm but were also instrumental in defining the integrity of subsequent higher adaptive capability development. The findings also illustrated that for proactive OMs, the off-peak season was regarded as a period of creative development, rather than merely a time for mental and physical rejuvenation. Finally, this research facilitates the identification and development of higher level capabilities and in doing so, it contributes to the understanding of adaptive capabilities within the under-studied senior tourism sector and also within Irish tourism micro-firms.
|Unpublished - 2019
- Tourism, Heritage Micro-Firms