VIRTUAL LEARNING NETWORKS IN SMALL TOURISM BUSINESSES A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

Ms. Josephine Matthews, Dr. Felicity Kelliher, Dr. Mary T. Holden

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

    Abstract

    Much of tourism development is predicated on the successful working of organisations and their competitive alignment in the form of partnerships or networks. Specifically, national and international research studies acknowledge the importance of small firm network-centred learning, where an integral part of this learning process is the complete network of relationships of the small firm owner-manager. Despite their importance in the context of small business development, networks, both physical and virtual, have been relatively neglected as an area of academic study, particularly in the tourism context. This paper focuses on virtual learning networks (VLN) among small tourism businesses, and seeks to establish a conceptual frame within which VLNs can be studied from a small firm perspective. A comprehensive review of the literature on VLNs is presented, drawing from traditional learning theories and their adoption into a virtual standpoint. The review also draws from networking philosophy and relational capital domains. Previous research suggests a number of factors including collaboration, trust, and reciprocity as indicators for the building of social capital in order to increase participation levels among network members. The approach to learning, its theories and behavioural analysis are a predominant focus in the examination of existing literature. A conceptual framework is presented identifying the elements (trust, commitment and reciprocity) necessary for building social capital as a means for effective collaboration among members within a small firm virtual network. The research goal is to suggest factors for consideration by managers and national support agencies (including Fáilte Ireland in the tourism context) when establishing small business virtual networking operations. Further research includes the operationalisation of this conceptual model in the Irish tourism sector.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2008
    EventTourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland (2008) - Tralee, Co. Kerry, Tralee, Co. Kerry
    Duration: 01 Jan 2008 → …

    Conference

    ConferenceTourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland (2008)
    CityTralee, Co. Kerry
    Period01/01/2008 → …

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