Heterogeneous change agency in rural tourism

Authors: Nora Bækkelund*, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
Topics: Economic Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: EEG, path creation, agency, tourism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 1, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Evolutionary approaches have been criticized for the systemic focus overshadowing the role of agency. Another critique has been towards the neglect of rural areas and their specific dynamic and challenges. Both these critiques have in part been met by an increased focus on the heterogeneity of agency and its spatial specificity. This agency encompasses more than Schumpeterian entrepreneurship and involves a wide variety of actors. One can distinguish between firm level agency and system level agency. The former contains both Schumpeterian entrepreneurship and agency driving change in established firms, while the latter points to agency driving change across organizations. The need for and interaction between different forms of system- and firm level agency are likely to vary between different path development processes, where radical change might require more action targeted towards the system level. This may be particularly so in rural settings, where there tends to be a lower density of organizations.

In rural tourism change agency at the firm- and system level interact in the process of growing new tourism services. The networked structure of the tourism industry and the institutional thinness of the sector in rural Norway makes it suitable for studying the complex interactions between different agencies, especially how firm leaders act to affect change beyond the single organization. In such contexts motivations, personal characteristics and networks can be as important as the formal position of change agents, thus blurring the distinction between different roles in the local industry.

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