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"Anyone could do that": Nordic perspectives on competence in tourism
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic and social geography. (Arcum)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7613-9146
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
"Det där klarar vem som helst" : Nordiska perspektiv på kompetens inom turism (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

In academic reasoning, as well as policy rhethoric, much attention has been drawn to the low thresholds to employment and entrepreneurship in tourism. The purpose of this thesis is to go beyond the simplified images and examine the educational characteristics of the tourism workforce in a way that includes both a geographical and work task related aspect. By employing a sequential mix of methods, two perspectives on competence in tourism are presented. First, the actual presence of formal education within the workforce is mapped and discussed based on descriptive analyses of register data. Thereafter, thematic analyses of interviews are used to allow for a discussion on underlying reasoning of recruitment. The theoretical point of departure is that the workforce is a crucial input factor of the production process in labour intense service sectors such as tourism. However, the access to a suitable workforce differs between destinations. It is therefore imperative to scrutinize its characteristics in order to set relevant strategies for development, as well as education.

The thesis contains four individual papers and an introductory section. The first two papers are based on register data on the Swedish national workforce in the years 2000, 2005 and 2010. The results show that the general level of formal education is not exceptionally low in tourism and that it is rather linked to geography than occupational sector. There was also confirmed to be a mismatch between tourism-specific education and work in tourism. In the second part of the thesis, focus is turned to the managerial segment within destination development. The geographical scope includes the northern region of Sweden and one case study area each in Norway and Finland. The empirical material shows that tourism-specific education was not prioritized when recruiting for destination management.

The empirical findings are brought together in the concluding discussion of the thesis. It is there suggested that reasoning on the educational characteristics of the tourism workforce needs to  include the diversity of local preconditions and needs relating to geography and work tasks.            

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2017. , p. 100
Series
GERUM, ISSN 1402-5205 ; 2017:4
Keywords [en]
tourism, education, workforce, competence, destination management, destination development, recruitment, Sweden, Finland, Norway
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-139916ISBN: 978-91-7601-765-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-139916DiVA, id: diva2:1144705
Public defence
2017-11-03, S Hörsal A, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-10-04 Created: 2017-09-27 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The development of geographical differences in education levels within the Swedish tourism industry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The development of geographical differences in education levels within the Swedish tourism industry
2018 (English)In: Tourism Geographies, ISSN 1461-6688, E-ISSN 1470-1340, Vol. 20, no S1, p. 67-84Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The nexus of workforce and destination development is a largely uncharted area within tourism research. The local human capital has above all been in focus when underlining tourism’s potential to create employment even for the inexperienced and less educated. However, a discordant strand of theory holds the low levels of qualified knowledge within the industry responsible for absent destination development in areas struggling to develop competitive advantages. Additionally, the in-migration of a skilled workforce may be hampered by a lack of amenities attracting permanent residents. In order to explore whether the tourism sector is characterized by a less educated share of the workforce, a study was performed using micro-level data on the full working population of Sweden during the years 2000–2010. The workforce in tourism was compared to the total and two other low-skill sectors, and the results show that the educational aspects within tourism are more related to geography than economic sectors. Contrary to general presumptions, the workforce within the tourism sector has a higher level of formal education than the other selected sectors in regions with generally low educational levels. The implication is thus that strategies aimed at creating employment for the least educated in rural areas need to be reconsidered, and not unconditionally target the tourism sector. Above all, tourism development needs to be based on assessments of local preconditions rather than a generalized image.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon: Routledge, 2018
Keywords
Sweden, education, knowledge, destination development, workforce, labour geography
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-143588 (URN)10.1080/14616688.2017.1400093 (DOI)000427764600005 ()
Available from: 2018-01-04 Created: 2018-01-04 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved
2. Tracking the tourism-specific educated in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Tracking the tourism-specific educated in Sweden
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Keywords
Tourism, workforce, education, mismatch, turnover
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-139936 (URN)
Available from: 2017-09-27 Created: 2017-09-27 Last updated: 2018-06-09
3. The importance of being local: prioritizing knowledge in recruitment for destination development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The importance of being local: prioritizing knowledge in recruitment for destination development
2014 (English)In: Tourism Review, ISSN 1660-5373, E-ISSN 1759-8451, Vol. 69, no 3, p. 229-243Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The paper aims to illuminate the discrepancy between the need for knowledge as found in prior research and the requirements formulated by those taking part in destination development. The results are intended to contribute to further research on the role of knowledge in destination management when performed as a strategy for regional development.

Design/methodology/approach: Based on theories within epistemology and tourism, an interview structure was developed and used in 10 in-depth interviews, with a qualitative approach through open-ended questions. This was complemented by a mapping of specific background factors through enquiries with 23 respondents. The paper follows an explorative approach to illuminate one aspect within the research area of destination development.

Findings: It was found that when recruiting much significance is put on understanding the structures of involved actors and local rooting. In contrast to theoretical findings, specific knowledge was not a prioritized requirement, neither in tourism nor marketing. Hence, there is a gap between what is perceived as needed for destination development according to academia and how it is being performed by practitioners.

Research limitations/implications: The study is limited in geography and context. Because the research design was showed to be successful in capturing significant aspects, it is proposed for use in further research.

Practical implications: The paper deepens the understanding of factors explaining success and impediments of destination development. It underlines the need for bridging the gap between theory and practice.

Originality/value: This work addresses a vital, but not fully explored, aspect of an extensively implemented strategy for regional development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2014
Keywords
Nordic, Social capital, Recruitment, Competence, Knowledge management, Regional development, Destination development
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-109170 (URN)10.1108/TR-06-2013-0026 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-09-21 Created: 2015-09-21 Last updated: 2018-06-07Bibliographically approved
4. Destination development in Ostrobothnia: great expectations of less involvement
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Destination development in Ostrobothnia: great expectations of less involvement
2017 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, ISSN 1502-2250, E-ISSN 1502-2269Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Multi-actor involvement and cooperation are emphasized elements of destination development. Whereas prior research has addressed challenges involved in creating inclusive structures and trust through bottom-up approaches, this paper’s focus is on the less explored attitude of acceptance of a top-down structure. The case study of Ostrobothnia in Finland shows a regional destination organization that went from broad involvement to less inclusiveness and transparency. Through interviews with public and private stakeholders, it was found that the formal exclusion was accepted by all actors, even those who were excluded, based on their common high expectations of enhanced effectiveness of the new organization. Building on institutional theory and inclusiveness, it is suggested that the long-lasting formal collaboration had created the trust needed among the stakeholders for a new, lean management to replace the old. However, lasting formal collaboration may also lead to development of informal networks that hinder further interaction. Any formal collaboration or partnership between the public and private sectors therefore needs to acknowledge the local socio-political context to overcome established social hierarchies and open up for new influences. Co-determination should be held as a potential solution rather than an imposed structure, as it depends on expectations and local conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon: Routledge, 2017
Keywords
destination, partnership, inclusiveness, institutionalization, stakeholder
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-139605 (URN)10.1080/15022250.2017.1312076 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-09-19 Created: 2017-09-19 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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