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Exploring drivers of innovation in hospitality family firms

Andreas Kallmuenzer (Department of Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism, Universitat Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 19 March 2018




The purpose of this study is to explore which actors in the hospitality industry drive innovation in hospitality family firms and particularly aims at understanding how these drivers contribute to create and sustain competitive advantage. The peculiar role of family dynamics in these efforts is considered.


Narrative interviews in 22 hospitality family firms in Western Austria were conducted. Data were analyzed using the qualitative text analysis software GABEK©.


Results show that the entrepreneurial family and employees are key drivers for innovation as actors internal to the firm, but also the guests and regional competitors as external drivers provide comprehensive innovation input. These innovation efforts are perceived to stimulate growth and business development.

Research limitations/implications

Future research might want to test and further concretize the propositions from this study in quantitative surveys. Additionally, the entrepreneurial family formed the central focus of this study; thus it would be interesting to investigate the other actors identified as key drivers of innovation in hospitality family firms.

Practical implications

Recommendations to entrepreneurs and regional politics are to capitalize on the identified actors as important drivers of innovation.


Research widely agrees that in hospitality collaboration, innovation is necessary, for many actors jointly offer complex products and services to tourists. However, it remains unclear which actors are mainly driving innovation in hospitality and how they do this, particularly when considering that the majority of firms in this industry are family firms and therefore family dynamics need to be considered for analysis.



Kallmuenzer, A. (2018), "Exploring drivers of innovation in hospitality family firms", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 1978-1995.



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