An Exploration of Evolving Learning Communities in the Micro Firm Rural Tourism Context: A Multi-Country Study

David Aylward

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    6 Downloads (Pure)


    Rural stakeholder collaborations are considered pivotal to successful rural development. In this context a growing body of micro firm related tourism research acknowledges the value of collaborative learning networks and the learning relationships that develop within. However little research reveals how micro firms learn independently in the practice of tourism development in an ‘evolving learning community’ context. Drawing from Lave and Wenger’s (1991) community of practice perspective, this research seeks to explore the elements and relationships that influence learning in an evolving learning community (LC) in the micro firm rural tourism context. An evolving LC is defined as a group of businesses (micro firms) who collaborate with one another and other stakeholders in their community for the purpose of tourism development; in doing so they build shared meaning and learn in practice, as the community evolves from one stage to another. A comprehensive literature review reveals key criteria which influence evolving LC structures and interrelationships. These criteria are explored through two longitudinal interpretive case studies in tourism practitioner communities in Canada and Wales. Employed research techniques comprised interviews, observation, LC communication review and reflective diary maintenance. The findings offer insights into how the catalyst, structure and leadership, learning strategies, LC resources, communication, participation and identity and boundary criteria support or impede micro firm learner autonomy and influence the evolving LC’s learning dynamic. Recommendations are offered into optimised evolving LC support mechanisms at local, regional and national level; ultimately contributing to rural regional policy development in each domain.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Kelliher, Felicity, Supervisor
    • Reinl, Leana, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2016


    • Micro Firm Rural Tourism


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