Within a religious tourism destination, the study of business networks can be used to improve understanding of the interactions taking place within or among businesses, by exploring the informal and formal connections linking them together. Hence, the purpose of this study is to map and analyze strategic business networks operating in a religious destination.
This research explores the networks of stakeholders associated with a religious context in an intensive single case study on Al-Atabat Al-Aliyat in Iraq through qualitative analysis. Multiple methods of data collection were used to build strategic networks promoting religious tourism in the Middle-East region. Key analysis practices include content analysis and social network analysis (SNA). The identified interrelationships between stakeholders were analyzed by using UCINet, an SNA tool.
The study reveals three different types of cooperation networks in the case of Al-Atabat Al-Aliyat, namely, a 67-actor continuous network, a 69-actor non-Arbaeen network and an 89-actor Arbaeen network. The results also pinpoint the need for more collaborative activities on the different levels of cooperation in the networks.
This paper provides important guidelines on how to manage the interrelationships within tourism networks in a religious destination such as Iraq. The findings highlight the acute need for establishing strategic and effective networks of stakeholders in Al-Atabat Al-Aliyat. Non-tangible, long-term and quantitative benefits can be found for tourism businesses investing time and money in religious networks in Iraq.
The research contributes to religious tourism literature, filling the gaps about how the interrelationships among the actors involved in a business network can evolve over time and influence the success of a certain religious destination.
The authors are grateful to the associate editor and the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable guidance and insightful comments. This paper is based on the fourth chapter of PhD dissertation of the fourth author under the title of “Modelling Dynamics of Religious Tourism Networks: A Future-Oriented Approach” at the Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Iran.
Heidari, A., Yazdani, H.R., Saghafi, F. and Jalilvand, M.R. (2020), "A networking approach to analyzing religious tourism businesses: The case of Al-Atabat Al-Aliyat in Iraq", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIMA-04-2019-0067Download as .RIS
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