Handbook of Research Methods for Tourism and Hospitality Management
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Handbook of Research Methods for Tourism and Hospitality Management

Edited by Robin Nunkoo

As research in tourism and hospitality reaches maturity, a growing number of methodological approaches are being utilized and, in addition, this knowledge is dispersed across a wide range of journals. Consequently there is a broad and multidisciplinary community of tourism and hospitality researchers whom, at present, need to look widely for support on methods. In this volume, researchers fulfil a pressing need by clearly presenting methodological issues within tourism and hospitality research alongside particular methods and share their experiences of what works, what does not work and where challenges and innovations lie.
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Chapter 7: Understanding theory and theoretical contribution

Ekaterina Sorokina and Youcheng Wang

Abstract

Tourism lacks its own unique theoretical knowledge and most would agree that it is yet to become a discipline. Generally, theoretical knowledge of the tourism field has been ‘borrowed’ from other related disciplines and then ‘stretched’ to give it a tourism dimension. Consequently, most of the concepts and theoretical frameworks that are available in the tourism field are not unique because they have been developed elsewhere. The interdisciplinary nature of tourism has resulted in a highly fragmented, fragile and sometimes weak knowledge about the real-world phenomena. However, the tourism field has recently begun to show promising signs, and now strives to develop its own theoretical knowledge and to integrate this knowledge in one general theoretical framework. In order to facilitate development of tourism-specific knowledge, researchers need to understand what constitutes a theory and a theoretical contribution. Unfortunately, many are mistaken in their view of a theory. Therefore, this chapter is designed to introduce tourism and hospitality researchers to the subject of theory and to various approaches that researchers may apply to make a theoretical contribution. Most academic journals offer no specific guidelines on how to make an original and significant theoretical contribution to the tourism field. Thus, the chapter provides information that is necessary to educate researchers on this subject.

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