Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Informal Networks in Tourism Publishing

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Informal Networks in Tourism Publishing

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The greatest transformation in the organization of scientific work is the orientation on largescale projects, or 'big science'. As Price revealed already in 1986, greater size and complexity of research activities have lead to a higher need for collaboration, which has been reflected in the formation of social relationships in the form of research coalitions and collaborative research networks (Shrum et al., 2007). The trend towards collaboration seems to be independent of discipline.

Today, science is regarded as a collaborative enterprise (Finholt, 2003). Watts in 2003 states that "in the quiet corridors of academia ... a new science has been emerging - one that speaks directly to the momentous events going on around it. For want of a better term, we call this new science the science of networks" (Watts, 2003, p. 13). Several sociological studies of modern science and the communication patterns of scientists agree that the form of organization which has become most known are 'invisible colleges'" (Macharzina, Wolf and Rohn, 2004, p. 337). The name derives historically from a group of people in the mid-seventeenth century who later formally organized themselves into the Royal Society of London. The people in such a group claim to be reasonably in touch with everyone else who is contributing materially to research in this subject. However, the question is if it does require five, six or seven co-authors to produce a quality article.

The objective of the present study is to establish an understanding of informal networks and collaboration motives of academics. The paper is exploratory in nature and takes an empirical approach. Following this introduction, the paper undertakes a review of the relevant literature regarding: (i) the science of networks; (ii) invisible colleges; (iii) informal networks; (iv) networks in journal publishing; and (v) cooperation motives. The paper then elaborates a series of propositions regarding the nature of collaboration activities and potential motives for collaboration among researchers. To empirically test how researchers collaborate, a web-based electronic study was carried out in 2005 asking members of international scientific tourism organizations on their collaboration activities. The paper summarizes major findings of the study and concludes with its limitations and future research opportunities.

2. Literature review

2.1 The Science of Networks

Complex cooperation relations are usually called 'networks'. "In the network approach to social structure, the social positions of actors are revealed by the actors' patterns of relations with other actors, and a differentiated social structure is defined by the existence of actors who occupy different positions in networks of social relations" (Friedkin and Johnsen, 1997, p. 209). A substantial amount of work by network analysts has been concerned with understanding "how social structure affects individual 'exchange' or 'transitional' behaviour" (Uehara, 1990, p. 528). In the beginning, networks were connections of machines, yet the more differentiated they became the more social linkages were conveyed. The network has evolved in four contexts (Herman, 2003; Jackson and Wolinsky, 2003; Dutta and Mutuswami, 2003). (1) Sociology - in analyzing organisations, networks reflect the entity of channels existing within a group and its composition. (2) Technology - the technological network is the entity of telecommunication lines which are interconnected. (3) Economy - a network represents the entity of principally stable relationships existing among various partners with regard to a strategic or economic object. (4) Management - management is often regarded as a network of employees and external persons.

In the last few years, research on network structures grew. "Collaboration in science is not recent; it ... has increased rapidly during the past decades" (Luukkonnen et al., 1993, p. 15). Laudel (2001, p. …

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