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Participation in sustainable tourism development: Stakeholders & partnership working.

By James Alexander Maiden


In order to achieve more sustainable development, many are advocating the crucial role of involving a comprehensive range of stakeholders in all stages of the development process, from policy making to project implementation. Following the sustainable development literature, it is believed that tourism will also achieve greater levels of sustainability if all stakeholders participate in its development. As the interest in stakeholders has grown, so too have partnerships become popular vehicles for the delivery of strategic goals, such that other more dynamic, less resource intensive forms of stakeholder participation may be overlooked. Given the widespread interest in stakeholders, it might be anticipated that there would be a well-developed theory of stakeholding. While there is a stakeholder theory, which some tourism researchers have previously used, its current value is questioned here and a number of other organisational theories are therefore considered in an attempt to develop a more comprehensive framework for analysing stakeholding in practice. By also reflecting on collaboration, network and structuration theories, a fuller understanding of the complex range of issues is enabled. Tourism in Wales is investigated here, which provides an interesting case study as it has recently undergone a restructuring process that attempted to increase coordination between and involvement of stakeholders. There is also a policy commitment, driven by the National Assembly for Wales, for increased partnership working between organisations. Policy and strategy documents from key organisations were analysed for their commitment to stakeholder involvement and a comprehensive range of stakeholder groups was interviewed. The study explores who the stakeholders are, the kind of mechanisms and processes employed to ensure that views are heard, and the effects of doing so in terms of benefits and problems. The network and coordination structures that underlie all communications are also key considerations. Analysis is undertaken at two different levels a national and regional level of organisational coordination, as well as a local level case study of a scheme involving diverse stakeholder groups. How the different levels interact and the associated issues are also considered. It is concluded that while there are some positive structural moves, there are also some embedded social constraints that mean more effective forms of stakeholder participation are not yet fully operationalised. The top-down focus on partnership working has meant that while some more well-resourced organisations and individuals have enjoyed more privileged access to decision-making processes, more 'grass-roots' stakeholders' opportunities to participate have not greatly increased. The evident enthusiasm for partnership working and stakeholder involvement must therefore be carefully nurtured to ensure success

Topics: GV Recreation Leisure
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:
Provided by: ORCA
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