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Do Actors Really Agree on Strategic Issues? Applying Consensus Analysis of Stakeholder Perceptions in Tourist Destination Communities

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Consensus on strategic issues in tourist destination communities is an integral part of the extensive body of literature on destination planning and destination policy making. But while there are numerous contributions addressing methods and concepts for achieving explicit consensus, research on implicit consensus among decision-makers that increases the likelihood of collective action is lacking. This article focuses on individual perceptions of prominent actors in four European Alpine destinations and the question of whether they implicitly agree upon selected strategic dimensions. With the help of network data and the application of formal consensus analysis, the empirical research identifies whether there is one common truth and if so, which actors know the truth best and which are the ones who are bad informants or even create dissent. Despite the earlier and ongoing planning processes in the research sites, which involves most of these actors, and despite the explicitly agreed-upon destination strategies and plans, the results show only partial consensus. Against expectations, the best informants are not the most influential actors but rather those prominent individuals who reside in relatively marginal positions, at hierarchical middle levels and with limited responsibility. The results indicate that the less concerned some individuals are with a strategic dimension, the more likely they give the culturally correct answer, because they do not have to advocate or defend a differentiated position. Additionally, external individuals may catalyze the formation of consensus over time, but only after they have first destabilized stalemate perceptions and positions among the local actors. The article concludes with implications for destination planning that complement the current approaches.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.

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