The performance of small tourism enterprises in Badenoch and Strathspey
This thesis explores the role of embeddedness in the performance of a sample of small tourism enterprises (STEs) in the distinct of Badenoch and Strathspey in the Highlands of Scotland. The concept of embeddedness refers to the links between STEs and other economic actors and resources in the local milieu. The conceptual foundation of the analysis is based on economic concepts concerning the behaviour of firms and rural development processes. The empirical analysis is based on two surveys of the same sample of 94 STEs in Badenoch and Strathspey at a five year interval. Tourism has been widely advanced as an important component of economic restructuring in rural areas. However, these remains limited understanding of the entrepreneurial environment surrounding the operation of tourism enterprises, and thus of how tourism enterprises may contribute most effectively to local and regional development strategies. Thinking on rural development has in recent decades become increasingly focused on a paradigm of development that advocates approaches to development that are endogeneous, integrated and process-driven. Recent research on rural economies has focused increasingly on the role of interactions among businesses and other actors in economic development. The results indicate that there are complex associations between embeddeness and STE performance. The use of local natural and cultural resources in product development is positively associated with business performance. Embeddedness in local business and social groups and networks, appears to produce contrasting effects on business performance depending on how such networks respond to development opportunities. It is concluded that embeddedness acts as a means for STEs to gain access to extra-firm resources, a role which for larger firms may be partially achieved through corporate networks. The implications for these findings for thinking on rural development and for associated policies are discussed.