Golf Tourism, Its Institutional Setting, and Environmental Management: A Longitudinal Analysis

By Vargas-Sánchez, Alfonso; Riquel-Ligero, Francisco | European Journal of Tourism Research, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Golf Tourism, Its Institutional Setting, and Environmental Management: A Longitudinal Analysis


Vargas-Sánchez, Alfonso, Riquel-Ligero, Francisco, European Journal of Tourism Research


Introduction

If we assume that the main goal of any theory is to explain reality, the Institutional Theory is not, of course, an exception. If there is a reality today, beyond any doubt, it is that companies are in a process of accelerated change to adapt to an increasingly dynamic and complex business setting, trying to achieve a balance between the interests of the different stakeholders and sources of pressure applied to their managers, at both strategic and operational levels. A clear example of this situation is found in the growing interest in the context of respect for the natural environment that affects corporate policies (Fraj et al., 2010).

Following this interest, numerous studies have been carried out attempting to identify both external and internal factors linked to the environmental behaviour of organizations (Menon et al., 1999; Rivera and Molero, 2006). One of the approaches more extensively used to explain these processes of influence on the environmental behaviour has been the Institutional Theory (Hoffman and Ventresca, 2002; Campbell, 2007). Within this theory authors such as Meyer and Rowan (1977), Scott (1995) and Phillips et al. (2000) propose that institutionalization is a process through which society's expectations influence the behaviour and structures of organizations. The growing social interest awakened in respect for the environmental impacts of companies' activities has led to the development of pressure mechanisms, supported by institutional theorists (Meyer and Rowan, 1977; DiMaggio and Powell, 1983; Scott, 1995) within the environmental field, leading to a stream known as Environmental Institutionalism (Jennings and Zandberguen, 1995; King, 1995; Boons and Stranegard, 2000; Carmona and Burgos, 2002; Russo, 2003; Bansall and Cleland, 2004; Llanas, 2005). This stream defends the adequacy of Institutional Theory to explain the spread of environmentally sustainable practices (Boons and Stranegard, 2000).

In this paper we use this theoretical framework to connect the pressure mechanisms with the concepts of social legitimacy and organizational performance. Although, as noted, there are many papers applying the principles of Institutional Theory to explain the spread of environmental routines in a given industry (Meyer and Rowan, 1977; DiMaggio and Powell, 1983; Scott, 1995), there are a few studying their impact on business performance via social legitimacy. Even more, we have not found any study doing so from a longitudinal perspective, analysing the evolution of environmental institutional pressures in a given sector of activity over a period of time, as it is done in this piece of research.

To do it, we needed to select an industry or organizational field with a very relevant environmental setting for developing the productive activity. That is why we have opted for the tourism sector, and more specifically for a particular segment in a particular region, golf tourism in Andalusia (Spain). Andalusia is one of the leading golf tourism destinations in Europe, which has led to a rapid increase in this type of facility, not without creating a broad social debate about the environmental impacts involved.

In the present study we consider the existence of an institutional setting that conditions the behaviour in respect of environmental protection of the companies that operate golf courses. It is the coercive pressures (of legally enforceable regulations) that have the most influence in the scenarios studied. Coercive pressure thus reinforces the capacity of the institutional setting as a whole to influence organizational behaviour in adverse economic contexts such as that applicable in the second of the scenarios studied. To arrive at these conclusions, and after defining the theoretical framework and specifying the sample employed, we have conducted a comparative Partial Least Squares (PLS) analysis of the temporal scenarios proposed, using Visual-PLS software for this. …

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