Sustainable Tourism: Integrating Service Ecosystems and Institutional Perspectives

23 Dec 2022
The Sasin Research Seminar continued with a presentation by Dr. Rama Jayanti, Professor of Marketing at Cleveland State University & Fulbright Scholar at Nanyang Business School, that looked at Sustainable Tourism. The talk began by questioning what people mean by sustainable tourism. What is being sustained, and is there a common understanding of the term? For example, in the USA, it tends to mean preservation; in Germany, it’s a gentle use of resources; in Italy, it relates to responsibility for the planet; and in Norway, there’s a focus on future generations. Like much other research, this study uses aspects of the Service Ecosystem Perspective (SEP). In SEP, value is phenomenological, co-created, multidimensional, and emergent. Dr. Rama then explained how the topic and value can be viewed through an institutional lens and how it can scaffold SEP. Institutions and institutional logics were then discussed, with an explanation of how the logics act as a foundation for scripted actions. For example, commercial logics lead to actions rooted in economic routines indicative of opportunism and self-interest. In contrast, communal logics result in actions rooted in trusteeship routines indicative of restrained opportunism and benevolence. However, there can be conflicts between pluralistic logics, as shown in the literature, and Dr. Rama discussed how these could be reconciled. In the tourism space, there are two primary logics. On one side are development, economic prosperity, and commercial logics, where investments in tourism add value to the economy and quality of life for locals. On the other are preservation, general connection, and communal logics. These logics reflect the presence of both value creation and value depletion. So, emerging economies that embrace sustainable tourism face a dilemma of development and preservation. The plurality of development and preservation logics intersect with service ecosystems’ insights on value creation and illustrate a paradox between increasing economic value and diminishing community welfare. The lecture then looked at the study’s objectives. These include an examination of local people who have been displaced due to tourism development, a study of the co-existence of value creation and depletion in the pluralistic tourist service ecosystem, and an outline of the implications for tourism policy in emerging economies. Next, Dr. Rama discussed the methodology used. This was followed by the findings which used the themes of Economic Value, Emotional Burden, Trust Chasm, and Cultural Seclusion. These were defined, and illustrative comments were examined. Then, the interconnections between these themes and how they relate to value creation and depletion were shown and discussed. This was followed by a look at the implications, such as how the tourism services ecosystem has paid scant attention to the emotional burden of indigenous communities. The findings suggest that social systems don’t thrive on value seeded by a single actor. However, if multiple authors and stakeholders are woven together, value creation trumps value depletion. The proposed framework explores novel questions regarding simultaneous value creation and depletion. It does this by examining the perspectives of multiple actors who trigger controversies within the complex service ecosystems. Solutions such as using indigenous peoples to talk about their locations were suggested, and other ideas for future research were proposed. The talk was followed by a fascinating Q&A session where several questions and ideas were discussed. Dr. Rama asked for suggestions on how value can be created and what kind of research should be done on this issue. One topic raised was how locals in Thailand have been affected by tourism, with an example of some fishing communities having to stop their activities due to tourism development. Another idea was to look at fairness, value capture, and how this could be conceptualized. Other ideas included looking at other studies to find starting points, methodologies, and strategies for the study. The conversation then discussed communities, scaling issues and how different stakeholders are affected. For example, locals might lose connection to the land and see changes as a decrease in value and identity.  
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