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The destination paradigm continuum revisited: DMOs serving as leadership networks

Dean Hristov (University of Bedfordshire Business School, University of Bedfordshire, Bedford, UK)
Anita Zehrer (DEpartment of Tourism Business Studies, MCI Management Center Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 15 June 2015




This paper aims to serve as an introduction to a rather under-researched field. It aims to provide a conceptual definition of destination management organisations (DMOs) serving as leadership networks in destinations drawing on what is to be called the DMO Leadership Cycle – a guiding framework integrating the perspectives of management, governance and leadership to influence destination development trajectories.


A synthesis of the extant literature on destination management and governance, coupled with the latest academic contributions in destination leadership serves to uncover the existence of a gap in the way leadership is seen in the underpinned domain. DMOs are conceptualised and their role in serving as leadership networks in destinations is then critically discussed.


Perspectives of destination management, governance and leadership and their interaction with one another is fundamental to DMOs serving as leadership networks. The paper provides justification for and indicative definition of contemporary DMOs serving as leadership networks in destinations.

Research limitations/implications

The conceptual nature of this paper calls for empirical evidence where DMOs serving as leadership networks are further investigated in practice and across diverse political and economic contexts.

Practical implications

This paper aims to shape destination leadership practice by introducing an alternative, yet inclusive approach to leadership focussing on collective orchestration in destinations undertaken by DMO networks.

Social implications

The paper aims to trigger a discussion on the importance of all-encompassing and integrative leadership as a means for widening participation across diverse destination groups; to serve as an input into and ultimately – shape policy development.


This discussion provides an alternative perspective to the way we see leadership in destinations. The paper argues that “impactful” leadership is rather embedded in a formal structure and distributed in nature.



Hristov, D. and Zehrer, A. (2015), "The destination paradigm continuum revisited: DMOs serving as leadership networks", Tourism Review, Vol. 70 No. 2, pp. 116-131.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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