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Mary O'Brien

Supervisors:

Prof. Jim Deegan

Working Title of Thesis:

Understanding and enhancing innovation activity in tourism. An analysis of the hotel sector in Ireland

Abstract

This study explores the current state of innovation in the tourism industry in Ireland, and analyses the effect of innovation on hotel performance. The objective is to examine the dynamics of innovation and its impact on performance with a representative sample of the whole hotel sector operating in Ireland. Through a review of the literature, the main determinants of innovation are identified, and following the OECD (2005) guidelines for measuring innovation, distinguishes four types: Product (goods/services), Process (service scope and back office), Organisational (management) and Marketing (external communication). The purpose of this study is to identify (1) the extent to which hotels are engaged in innovative activities, (2) the dimensions influencing innovativeness (3) develop measures and carry out a survey on a sample of hotel businesses in Ireland, and (4) examine the relationship between innovation and hotel productivity. This original model considers the effect of both internal and external factors (human capital, information technology, networks, and funding) on hospitality innovation. In order to control for other organisational and behavioural characteristics in the market, the effects that could be derived from five control variables are included, hotel size, use, category, ownership, and geographic location).

It is hoped that this study will uncover the productivity drivers and barriers in the hospitality industry and identify distinct kinds of performance measures that should be used in the process so that clear policy actions that are required to enhance innovation in tourism can be identified.