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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine stakeholder power and engagement within an increasingly competitive English seaside resort setting. It aims to adopt a structuralist and functionalist perspective and develop an enabling conceptualisation of power that incorporates structural and agency components in stakeholders’ reasons for engaging. Based on the conceptual interdependencies between stakeholder power and engagement, this study aims to present the limitations of previous studies on destination leadership in this area, and this paper also seeks to discuss implications for destination leadership. Design/methodology/approach – As a qualitative and exploratory study, mixed‐method research was adopted using questionnaires and semi‐structured interviews with destination stakeholders from a prominent tourism action group. The primary research was carried out in an English seaside resort between 2010 and 2011. Data are used to draw a stakeholder map as a visual tool. Findings – Eight elements of enabling power are confirmed to be of importance in identifying stakeholder power and engagement. The level of power varies depending on stakeholders’ position within a network. These findings direct attention towards adopting a complexity leadership approach in an increasingly competitive destination environment. Research limitations/implications – The paper focuses on an English seaside resort, although results can be transferred to other similar‐sized destinations where the focus is on local tourism policy development. Originality/value – The paper provides an innovative conceptualisation of power in stakeholder theory by drawing primarily on a sociological understanding of power as an enabler and not as an inhibitor for development, leadership and change in seaside resorts. This paper uses leadership theories to interpret data and infer implications for destination leadership.
Tourism Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 12, 2014
Keywords: Leadership; Stakeholder engagement; Power; Tourism policy; Seaside tourism
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