Tourism networks, knowledge dynamics and co- creation
Introduction Knowledge in its various codified and explicit forms is a key resource in the success of organizations (Nonaka 1991). Increasingly, interest in knowledge capacities and knowledge transfer within the context of service sector innovations has stressed the diversity of knowledge (Miles 2008; Hertog et al. 2011). In addition, attention has focussed on knowledge flows and the means by which knowledge is transferred. All of these key areas have attracted recent interest within tourism studies as exemplified by Hjalager’s (2010) review. In large part though, it is still the case that there is a relative neglect in understanding the means by which knowledge is transferred and absorbed between different tourism organizations (Shaw and Williams 2009). As Valentina and Passiante (2009: 269) argue, ‘understanding the role of networks is only the first step, as it is important to examine underlying mechanisms’. This is a key discussion point of this chapter which intends to reach beyond tourism networks and consider some of the significant processes relating to knowledge management and the dynamics of knowledge. This research gap is in part associated with the complexity of tourism organizations and their operations along with a relative lack of interest in the detailed processes of their knowledge absorption capabilities. There are exceptions as shown by Cooper’s (2006) review of ideas of knowledge flows within a knowledge management framework, drawing attention to the main transfer models identified by Baek, Liebowitz and Granger (1999). Whilst Hjalager (2002) has detailed the transfer of knowledge around four main conduits, namely; the trade system, technological systems, infrastructural systems and the regulatory system, Shaw and Williams (2009) extended these ideas further by adopting work from Kacker (1988), recognizing indirect conduits and direct ones as potential vehicles within tourism. Finally, there has been a small but very significant growing interest in knowledge absorption (Thomas and Wood 2014). This chapter discusses two main types of knowledge, namely; explicit which describes knowledge that is codified and can be written down, often viewed as knowing about something as opposed to the tacit form which is more difficult to codify and concerns the knowing how. The latter is more difficult to transfer and more difficult to assimilate and is often described as sticky in
nature. In this context firms may know about a particular innovation but do not really know how it works in practice or how to operationalize it. The aim of this chapter is to develop the ideas of knowledge management, innovation and knowledge transfer into a framework based around a discussion of tourism networks. In doing so, it has been recognized that the complexities of tourism organizations in terms of both private and public organizations along with the variety of organizations relating to size, especially the large number of tourism SMEs. Within these contexts the chapter also highlights the importance of knowledge absorption capabilities of these different organizations, as a particularly neglected area of research within tourism studies.