Date of Award

8-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Norman, William C

Committee Member

Backman , Kenneth F

Committee Member

Baldwin , Elizabeth D

Committee Member

Witte , James C

Abstract

Over the past decades, increasing attention has been given to the networking in the tourism industry (Lynch, 2000; Pavlovich, 2003). The existing literature mainly focuses on the interrelationships among tourism stakeholders at sector level and the structure of the interorganizational networks in tourism industry. However, little research has been done to examine the possible antecedents and outcomes of the tourism networks and the interrelationships between the network structures at different subject level (i.e., interpersonal and interorganizational) and in different social contexts (i.e., online and offline). The purpose of this study is to address these research gaps by empirically examining the networks in a tourism destination.
Choosing Charleston, South Carolina as the study area, this study included three phases of data collection and analysis. A series of in-depth interviews with the Charleston Area Convention and Visitor Bureau (CACVB) staff were first conducted for the development of the survey instrument. An online self-administrated survey was then conducted with 337 investors of the CACVB Travel Council to examine the scope and strength of the relationships between tourism professionals and tourism organizations. In addition, the Web sites of 745 tourism-related organizations located in Charleston were collected for generating an inter-hyperlink network in the tourism industry. Using network analysis techniques, the relational characteristics of the identified Web sites were measured, and their possible relationships with the organizations' offline characteristics were also examined.
The results confirmed the proposed influences of personality in individual's social network structures in tourism business environment, and indicated that different personality traits contributed to different aspects of individual's social networks characteristics (i.e. social network diversity and social network tie strength). At the organizational level, the study suggested that the interorganizational networks between tourism organizations were socially embedded in their boundary-spanning personnel's social networks. In addition, market turbulence was found negatively related to tourism organization's network diversity that had significant influence on their market performance. For the interorganizational network in cyberspace, the study revealed that tourism organization's sector played an important role in their online network structures which were found correlated to tourism organization's offline network structure as well as market performance.

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