ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY, TOURISM ORGANIZATIONS AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY LIVELIHOODS
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Research on existing actor-networks has focused traditionally on outcomes, achievements and success at the expense of a detailed consideration of their formation and ability to function. In recognition of this lacuna, this study examined the formation and functioning of tourism-related actor-networks involved in environmental protection and the management of tourism in the coastal city of Hurghada, Egypt. More specifically, it applied the actor-network theory (ANT). In particular, the study applied its four moments of translation – problematization, interessement, enrolment and mobilization – and used Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) to analyse the influencing factors, whether positively or negatively, and the degree to which the creation and operations of such collaborations were successful.
This study employed a sequential, explanatory mixed-methods design, integrating both quantitative and qualitative data. A questionnaire was used to collect data from 510 employees of tourism-related organizations involved in managing tourism’s environmental impacts on Hurghada. Also, the researcher conducted fourteen semi-structured interviews with the managers and assistant managers of tourism-related organizations involved in environmental protection and the management of tourism. The SEM’s findings revealed the existence of a number of tourism-related actor-networks which were attempting to safeguard local community livelihoods through environmental protection, and of four key factors – trust, coordination, commitment, and communication – which were damaging their formation, functioning and outcomes.
This study contributed to theory since it enhanced our knowledge and understanding of the relationships between four previously unconnected bodies of literature. These were, namely, ANT, tourism-related organizations, environmental governance, collaboration, and environmental protection. The study highlighted, also, the factors, both positive and negative, which influenced the formation and functioning of tourism actor-networks involved in managing tourism’s environmental impacts on Hurghada.
In practical terms, this study analysed the role of tourism-related organizations in order to identify their main strengths and weaknesses In addition, the researcher considered how partnership networks could consolidate the strengths and overcome the weaknesses of the tourism-related organizations involved in environmental protection and the management of tourism in Hurghada. Also, this study will help these tourism-related organizations, through such networks, to adopt suitable activities, policies, strategies and laws for protecting the assets relating to the local community’s livelihoods. Therefore, knowing the key success factors of collaborative networks and good governance will help these networks of tourism-related organizations to improve their performance in terms of assisting Hurghada’s local community and the poor people in particular.
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