Destination Collaboration: A Critical Review of Theoretical Approaches to A Multi-dimensional Phenomenon
The literature on destination marketing and management has expanded rapidly in recent years and much of this growth has focused on attempting to understand the dynamics of the destination ‘‘system’’, particularly in the context of the increasingly competitive market environment in which destinations find they now operate. Rather less attention has been paid, meanwhile, to the potential for collaboration to enhance destination competitiveness and contribute to broader destination development goals. While there has been some research into the role of destination marketing organisations, the literature has largely ignored the different ways in which collaboration may take place within and between destinations, often simultaneously. These different dimensions of destination collaboration are outlined in the paper and termed ‘‘organic’’, ‘‘mediated intra-destination’’ and ‘‘mediated intra- and inter-destination’’. Recognising these different dimensions raises an important question for research into destination marketing and management: how well do the existing theories of collaboration explain and inform destination collaboration both within and between destinations? The paper attempts to address this question, beginning with a critical analysis of the various theoretical approaches that have been advanced in attempting to understand inter-organisational collaboration. Five such approaches are identified and each is briefly outlined. The paper then applies these theories to each of the three forms of destination collaboration, drawing out the different implications they have for how collaboration is undertaken. As such, the paper highlights the need for a more sophisticated, multidimensional approach to theorising destination collaboration.