Traditionally agriculture and farming activities have been synonymous with rural areas and have been to the fore of policies to develop the countryside. However, in the last number of years it has been acknowledged that the significance of agriculture to rural development is in decline (Van der Ploeg et al, 2000). Additionally, there has been a shift in focus from what has been termed the ‘modernisation paradigm’ to the development of a ‘new paradigm of rural development’ (Murdoch, 2000). The focus is now firmly on social networks and a more integrated approach to rural development activities. In context, there is a growing consensus of what constitutes rural development activities including nature conservation, region-specific products and rural tourism (Van der Ploeg et al, 2000).This research will, therefore, examine rural development through the medium of rural tourism. Rural tourism fits well with the concept of rural development as it has strong linkages to rural resources, which focus on social networks and take account of the complex linkages among regional stakeholders. Much emphasis has been placed in recent years on collaborative relations between network partners’ to aid the facilitation of rural tourism development. It is well-documented in the literature that inclusive rural stakeholder networks, involving third level institutions and public-private stakeholders, are considered pivotal to successful and sustainable rural development (Johnson et al., 2000). Yet, it is acknowledged that significant gaps exist on the identification and precise nature of the roles and functions of stakeholders (Pezzini, 2001; McQuaid, 1997), and the content of network interactions and relationships (Jack, 2008), particularly in a rural environment (Murdoch, 2000). As articulated by Van der Ploeg et al. (2000): ‘what we now need are new theories that adequately reflect these new networks, practices and identities’ (p.394). Despite a number of calls to study relationships within networks, these interactions have not been studied to date in a rural network setting to the best of the author’s knowledge. In response to this research gap in extant literature, this paper seeks to identify and explain the nature and content of the roles and functions of key stakeholders in a rural tourism network. This author will, thus, propose an integrated model of rural stakeholder network relationships, and how these relationships shape collaborative regional network activity, in a rural tourism milieu. Following this phase of the research study, the proposed model will be applied in a practical setting, a process involving the exploration and analysis of the nature of the roles and functions of regional stakeholders in the south-east region of Ireland. An underlying objective of this research is to identify the inhibitors and facilitators of stakeholder interaction within a rural network, while model refinement will be pursued through multiple case study analysis, to allow for research legitimacy to be strengthened. This exploratory research addresses significant rural development and tourism literature gaps, and seeks to contribute significantly to academic and practitioner knowledge by developing a rural stakeholder network relationship model.
|Publication status||Published - 2009|
|Event||IAM Conference (September 2009) - Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology|
Duration: 01 Jan 2009 → …
|Conference||IAM Conference (September 2009)|
|City||Galway Mayo Institute of Technology|
|Period||01/01/2009 → …|