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A space of multiplicity, heterogeneity and co-creation: developing an innovation arena for tourism

Conference contribution
Authors Eva Maria Jernsand
Published in ATLAS Annual Conference 2018, Copenhagen, Denmark, 26-29 September
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Business Administration
Centre for Tourism
Department of Business Administration, Marketing Group
Language en
Keywords Co-innovation, co-creation, West Sweden, maritime tourism, regional development
Subject categories Business Administration


Innovation is one of the central concepts of contemporary local and regional development theory and practice. The interrelatedness between innovation structures and processes makes it crucial to involve a wide set of stakeholders (Doloreux & Parto, 2005), and the actors’ innovative capabilities and their interactions are vital for innovation to come forth (Doloreux, 2002; Stuck, Broekel & Revilla Diez, 2016). This type of collaborative innovation development is also argued for in tourism studies (Hjalager, 2010), however the organizational features to facilitate such processes are yet to be identified and developed (Zach, 2012, 2016). The purpose of this paper is to explore the spaces that enhance co-innovation in tourism: the innovation arenas. The role of innovation arenas is as intermediaries and innovation facilitators between the different stakeholders (Lapoint, Guimont & Sauvigny, 2015), who collaborate to create and develop ideas and turn them into valid concepts or working models (Lapointe et al., 2015; Leminen, Westerlund & Nyström, 2012). The paper’s theoretical framework rests on the concepts of co-creation, co-design, co-production, transdisciplinary research and similar and how they are used in different disciplines and in relation to tourism innovation. Also, a review is given of different types of labs, scapes and ecosystems and how they foster entrepreneurship and co-innovation in tourism. The approach is action-oriented and the case study is the project Maritime development in Bohuslän (Maritim utveckling i Bohuslän), in which four municipalities on the north-west coast of Sweden work together to create conditions for SMEs to strengthen their professionalism, sustainability and competitiveness. One of the sub-projects is to develop an innovation arena for maritime tourism. The methods include interviews and participatory observations. The findings confirm earlier research in that co-creation and co-innovation require “a common space where emotions, values, choices, ideas, and ideals emerge, converge or collide” (Campos et al, 2015, p 21, drawing from Bochner, Cissna & Garko, 1991), which means that co-creation needs to be institutionalized (e.g. Letaifa, Edvardsson & Tronvall, 2016; Vargo, Wieland & Akaka, 2015). In a place and tourism context, it is a matter of promoting inclusiveness (Letaifa et al, 2016, p 1934) and thereby involve more actors in the established arenas owned by academia, public and private sector, as well as include all aspects of sustainable development in the innovation process.

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