The research project, Event Innovation in Times of Uncertainty, involving TourNord partners Business Academy Southwest, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Linnaeus University and Koszalin University of Technology received the prize as the research project of the year 2023 by the Danske Erhvervsakademier (The Association of Danish Business Academies).
Selected as the best research project amongst 8 nominations, Christian Dragin-Jensen from Business Academy Southwest received the prize, the project being cited as an exemplary project for the sector, not only contributing with academic and theoretical impact, but also reaching out to many practitioners in several countries on how to promote resilience and innovation in the event and festival sector.
A big congratulations to Christian Dragin-Jensen and all the TourNord partners who collaborated on the project!
About the project:
The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the event and festival industry to its limits. However, during the shutdown, some events and festivals demonstrated resilience and promoted new, innovative solutions. The project explored several countries’ event and festival sectors to promote a new understanding of resilience and innovation to help the industry be better prepared for future crises.
Business Academy Southwest (Denmark), Linnaeus University (Sweden), Koszalin University of Technology (Poland), Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (Norway), explored 150+ events and festivals (sports, culture, music, etc.) in Norway, Poland, and Denmark – from small local events to large international ones. The aim was to highlight strategic and practical areas crucial for the event and festival industry, necessary for building resilience and providing examples of best practices in the industry that promote innovative, adaptive, and transformative event and festival environments.
The research has resulted in the development of new models for measuring resilience and innovation in the event industry (but can also be used in other sectors!). These models have been published as articles in several internationally recognized journals, disseminated, and implemented by various stakeholders.
Research paper 1: Effects of COVID-19 infection control measures on the festival and event sector in Poland and Norway (2021), published in Sustainability.
Research paper 2: Event Innovation in Times of Uncertainty (2022), published in International Journal of Event and Festival Management.
Research paper 3: Building a Resilient Event Sector in Times of Uncertainty (2023), published in Event Management.
Book chapter: Innovation in Sports Events during COVID-19 (2022), published in Research Handbook on Sport and COVID-19
Example of popular dissemination at one of Denmarks largest national websites for tourism
Members from Business Academy SouthWest, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and Koszalin University of Technology have recently published an article titled “Cooking up prosperity: Pop-Up restaurants, innovation, and lifestyle entrepreneurship” in Gastronomy & Tourism.
The study focused on the concept of Pop-Up Norge as a case study, where they investigated they way they do (and wish to do) business being a testament to their embodiment of innovation and life-style entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurs in Pop-Up Norge revelled in a sense of freedom, creativity, and the pursuit of uniqueness, and this continuously drove them to enhance and offer novel experiences.
A great Nordic success story that others can learn from!
This is also a success story for TourNord, as this was a collaboration started at our TourNord network meeting in Bergen, where an idea of supporting each other’s PhD students came to life.
You can read the abstract below, and the article is freely available here.
Abstract: Entrepreneurship is central to diversifying and enhancing the competitiveness of tourism offer-ings. The current literature underscores a critical oversight in nurturing entrepreneurship for tourism innovation and urges further exploration of entrepreneurial motivations in tourism start-ups. This is particularly relevant because the tourism sector heavily relies on new ventures to drive innovation, as established firms often struggle to meet the growing demand for distinc-tive and unique travel experiences. This study examines the entrepreneurial journey and inno-vation process within the tourism scene. Through comprehensive desk research and an in-depth entrepreneur interview, we aim to deepen our insights into the motivations driving entrepre-neurs and the innovation processes behind their tourism products and services. Specifically, our research focuses on pop-up restaurants, illuminating their embodiment of innovation and life-style entrepreneurship. The findings reveal that a sense of freedom, creativity, and the pursuit of uniqueness stand out as key motivational factors of establishing pop-up restaurants. These motivations extend into a continuous business innovation cycle, as the drive to enhance and offer novel experiences remains paramount. This study elucidates the uncharted territory of tourism entrepreneurship and offers valuable insights into the driving forces and innovative dynamics within this evolving market.
Wicked problems are hard to solve! Working together is complex, but necessary to solve these wicked problems! Ever heard these comments before?
Well, our TourNord partners from the University of Turku and Business Academy SouthWest have just published an article in the Nordic Journal of Vocation and Education titled “Collaborative Problem Solving: A pedagogy for workplace relevance” where they studied the pedagogical approach of collaborative problem solving in the context of work-based learning and complex (wicked) problems.
A truly collaborative project, 72 students were included (ranging from vocational students, university of applied science students and university students), 9 teachers and 5 industry professionals across 4 separate workshops in Finland and Denmark.
The article is open-access and freely available to all here. Want to read a bit more? Check out the abstract below!
Questions about the research? Contact Timo Halttunen, corresponding author.
This article is part of a larger project! You can read more about it here!
Collaborative problem solving (CPS) is a widely used pedagogical approach in work-based learning. To facilitate the complex process of situated learning, researchers have emphasized the need for scaffolding to enable learning of skills while engaged in problem-solving. While CPS as a pedagogical practice has mainly been examined in classroom situations, a research gap exists in studies of CPS in real-world contexts. In this study, we contribute to the understanding of CPS by examining the contextual characteristics that shape students’ and teachers’ experiences in situated learning. Consequently, we present a multi-case study to investigate involvement of a business professional as a source for scaffolding on site, in a hotel business environment. We employed a qualitative, multi-case methodology in the study. An ill-structured, real-world problem of food waste in the hotel service sector was presented to students (N = 72) and their accompanying teachers (N = 9) from second and tertiary education. They were provided with access to expert knowledge and opinion by industry professionals (N=5) on site. We collected data via observations, interviews, and questions from the involved stakeholders in three physical locations in Denmark and in Finland. Additionally, we documented their experiences using an online collaboration tool in each case. Despite the scaffolding provided by the business professionals, students underused the resources available for their learning in the extended learning environment. Students benefited from guided exploration of the problem space, structured feedback, and teacher interventions, resulting in improved perspective taking, participation, social regulation, task regulation and knowledge building.
(Source: Halttunen, T., Dragin-Jensen, C., Kylänpää, C., & Karkov, A. (2023). Collaborative problem solving: A pedagogy for workplace relevance. Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 13(2), 45–73. https://doi.org/10.3384/njvet.2242-458X.2313245)
During the last decades, most Nordic destinations have tried to increase the number of tourist arrivals. In recent years, before the pandemic, tourist arrivals secured continued growth in Nordic countries’ most popular destinations. This growth has in turn caused crowding challenges. Crowding is labelled ‘overtourism’ in academic literature and causes an ongoing debate among researchers. But overtourism has created a substantial public debate as well. One of the dilemmas is that overtourism is related to a few destinations only. Most of the areas in the Nordics are underpopulated and under-visited. There is room for a substantial increase in the number of inhabitants and visitors in these areas.
Overtourism in the Nordic Countries
Let us give some examples of overtourism from the pre-pandemic period in Nordic countries. These examples are not exhaustive, but might function as illustrations. In Denmark, Copenhagen is the most attractive destination. A high share of the visitors to the capital of Denmark – around 87% – tend to stay in and around the inner-city, especially the canal district Nyhavn. Nyhavn is well-known for its colourful merchant houses. The concentrated inflow of tourists in the city’s heart strains urban life with increased noise and traffic levels.
In Norway, examples of overtourism are Flåm and Lofoten. Several newspaper articles have documented the problem of large queues. In summer 2019, travellers had to wait for 5 hours to get a place on a ferry to Lofoten, a group of islands in Nothern Norway. On the mainland, in the same area, no queuing occurred.
Lapland is Finland’s northernmost region bordering Russia, Sweden, Norway and the Baltic Sea. Lapland is famous for its ski resorts, Northern Lights and subarctic wilderness. However, the most popular activity in recent years is husky rides. The growing interest in husky sledging puts the animals at risk. The tourist season in this region is short, between three and four months every year. A short season, combined with increasing demand, put a lot of stress on dogs and operators.
The arrival of the pandemic
Declared as a pandemic on 11 March 2020 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has heavily influenced the travel and tourism industry worldwide. The travel and tourism sectors have been affected by travel restrictions, quarantines, lockdowns and mandatory testing. These pandemic measures have created volatile and unpredictable business and travel environments.The global tourism industry now looks into a third year of uncertainty. Some researchers argue that the COVID-19 crisis should be a turning point, and that a return to pre-pandemic overtourism phenomena is undesirable and also unlikely to happen. However, according to Gössling and Scheiggart (2021) there is minimal evidence that the crisis has changed or will change tourism at an aggregated level. On this question, the future will give us the answers.
The pandemic has also taught us some other lessons regarding to how people react to different behaviour from government, individuals and companies. Based on a research project funded by the research council of Norway, with researchers from Italy, the US and Norway, we have now learned more about how these actions might influence travel patterns.
In an experiment, researchers exposed respondents for information containing a government that responded to the pandemic in either a good or bad way. The study showed that bad politics regarding government responses to the pandemic (i.e. ignoring the dangers of the virus, not imposing any social distancing, and not listening to medical advice) might generate bad feelings like anger, disgust, and scornfulness in the population. Those negative feelings will, in turn, impact travel intentions among tourists. Bad governmental response of pandemics might impose a stronger desire (and more travelling too) to travel among the population. However, the impact is evident only for one group of people. As human beings, we might be described with two different individual characteristics. Some of us are highly individualistic, and others are highly collectivistic-oriented. Being highly individualistic means that they are highly competitive oriented, like to make decisions on their own, and are also more likely to travel alone or organize their travel as an individual. Their counterparts are collectivistic-oriented persons, who are more concerned about their group members’ well-being than their own needs, and they are more likely to travel in groups. Most people can be placed along a continuum between those two extreme points. However, the distinction between individualism and collectivism might help us better understand possibilities and challenges regarding travel patterns in post-pandemic time.
The research from Western Norway University of Applied Sciences shows that individualistically oriented tourists tend to travel in defiance if the government in their country mistreat a pandemic situation. The collectivistic oriented tourists don’t have this tendency. Collectivistic oriented tourists have a low desire to travel during a pandemic, independently of how their government treat the pandemic. Combined with existing knowledge that individualistically oriented tourists have higher spending, are more involved in special interest tourism, and tend to stay longer in a travelled area, those tourists might be a part of the solution of the overtorusim issue. Tourists visiting longer in an area are more likely to spread than short-time visitors. Short-time visitors are more likely only to target the main ( and crowdy) attractions. The individualistically oriented tourists represent more diverse interests than their collectivistic counterparts too. This might contribute to spreading those tourists on many different types of activities and thereby reduce the overtourism problem.
One example of a special interest activity in Norway is “Landsskyttarstevent” (i.e. a shooting festival). The festival is hosted in rural areas in Norway. The event is a one-time activity that lasts for eight days and it draws 10-15.000 people every year. And more important, it’s located outside the main tourist destinations in the country.
Gössling, S. and N Schweiggart (2022). Two years of COVID-19 and tourism: what we learned, and what we should have learned. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. 30(4)
Oklevik, O., Gössling, S., Hall, M., Steen-Jacobsen, K., Grøtte I.P. (2019). Overtourism, optimization and destination performance indicators: a case study of activities in Fjord Norway. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. 27(12); 1804-1824.
Oklevik. O, Kwiatkowksi, G., Preuss, H. and A. Kurdyś-Kujawska (2021). Contextual engagement in event visitors’ experience and satisfaction. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism.
Timo Halttunen (University of Turku), Anders Karkov (Business Academy SouthWest), Christian Dragin-Jensen (Business Academy SouthWest) and Céline Kylänpää (University of Turku) presented their research last week at the NordYrk 2021 online conference at Linköping University, Sweden. With 193 registered participants, the conference brought many (Nordic) researchers and participants interested in the conference’s theme: “Transitions to, between, and within school and working life in vocational education and training”.
The Tournord members’ research, titled “Collaborative Problem Solving in Real-World Situations”, involved 4 case studies of culinary (VET) and tourism management (higher education) students in Finland and Denmark. Travelling to hotels in the cities of Sønderborg (DK) and Pori (FI), students were tasked on tackling a very (globally) relevant issue of food waste in the hospitality sector.
Lead author Timo Halttunen presented the case studies and findings, bringing to attention the impact of different conditions present at the workspace to collaborative problem solving. As Timo Halttunen states:
“In classrooms, problems have a clear starting point and a goal. At the workplace, problems are often ill-defined, meaning that the starting point and end result are not that clear. At the workplace students may or may not receive support for their problem solving, and they are left to their own devices. In our study, we found that access to expert skill and knowledge is crucial for success in collaborative problem solving. However, the students underused the learning affordances present at the workspace. Furthermore, it was important that students had an opportunity to access the authentic venue to explore the problem space. In this case, the restaurant for breakfast buffet at the hotel was a richer environment for student collaborative problem solving than a conference room or a pub at the same hotel. To conclude, it was important that teachers were present to intervene when needed, and to provide students with support in perspective taking and generating solutions. When students got back on track again, teachers stepped aside and let the students to develop their sense of agency and take charge of their own learning process”.
The research contributes to the growing body of academic literature highlighting the need for teachers, educators and professionals to bridge the gap between classroom and workplace. Moreover, Collaborative problem solving provides a fascinating insight into solving ill-defined problems, a critical 21st century skill.
We are pleased to announce that an international team from TourNord, working under the direction of Dr. Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, Assistant Professor at the Koszalin University of Technology and Associate Professor at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, will be investigating how to build resilient events and festivals during uncertain times! A very relevant topic considering the severe effects the global pandemic COVID-19 has wrought.
COVID-19 has led to a lockdown of local, regional and even national economies for months at end. Society has faced new (and severe) social and economic challenges, huge losses in experience economies such as the event, tourism and hospitality industries. The International Labour Organization (ILO) predicts that unemployment will rise by 24.7 million people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ILO further estimates that by the end of 2020, the economic loss due to COVID-19 will tap up to 3.4 trillion dollars.
This situation constitutes to be a great societal challenge which calls for urgent intervention, to save what is left and (re)build a resilient Event & Festival (E&F) sector through action research. The rational for this project, running from February – August 2021, lies in the need for up-to-date knowledge and knowledge-based tailored solutions to build resilient E&F ecosystems in our “new reality”.
Project lead, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, is looking forward to the international cooperation and the results the project will bring:
The possibility of implementing this grant is the result of the beneficial international cooperation implemented so far by our department. We will be able to conduct important research on issues that affect us all.
Financial support for the project was obtained from the “Intervention Grants” Program of the National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) in Poland. The purpose of the program implemented is to support international cooperation of research teams in response to sudden, important, unforeseen social, civilization and natural phenomena with global or regionally significant consequences.
We look forward to hear what findings the project will bring, and how we can help bring forward these findings to practitioners, students and researchers alike!
Last week, the University of Turku (UTU) and Business Academy SouthWest (BASW) conducted several Work-Based Learning sessions in Pori, Finland and Sønderborg, Denmark. The topic of the Work-based learning (WBL) sessions was Food waste in the food service sector. The goal of these sesssions were to study teacher and learner strategies in Creative Problem Solving, as a means to obtain meaningful learning. Specifically, the project aims at exploring how teachers and learners determine the right problem to solve, and how to solve it. Inspired by a design thinking process, the focus is on emphasizing with customer needs, defining a problem and ideating to solve the problem. The notion of meaningful learning is studied from the perspective of how teachers and learners co-create a learning process that aims at supporting better understanding of the needs of the customer and strategies for solving their problems.
The project project draws upon existing state-of-the-art research in education, such as Hesse et al.’s framework for teachable collaborative problem solving skills ( 2015), Tynjälä et al.’s model of integrative pedagogy (2016) and work-based learning (e.g. Kis, 2016; Lemanski & Overton, 2016; Siebert, Mills, & Tuff, 2009).
The project aims to answer the following research questions:
How do teachers script engaging learning processes that support development of learner autonomy and agency?
What constitutes an industry-relevant learning process?
Can student work readiness be improved by supporting learner autonomy and agency?
A more in-depth description of the project can be found here.
What did the sessions look like?
Working together with staff from the Sokos Hotel Vakuuna Pori and students and teachers from the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences in Finland, UTU observed teacher and learner strategies. Firstly, the hotel manager Riina Ojanen presented the problem of food waste at the hotel. Students then, in groups, worked on redefining the problem and were then allowed to ask the hotel manager additional questions in order to reformulate and fine-tune the problem. They then worked in groups to provide solutions. Each group came onstage to present their findings. The other groups listened carefully, and asked more questions when necessary. The hotel manager gave feedback on the solutions provided. Finally, students evaluated their learning experience using an online tool, mentimeter. Teachers evaluated the groups learning process and their own teaching experience.
In Denmark, BASW worked together with Hotel Sønderborg Strand, where a similar structure was held. First, the students received a tour of the hotel (with masks due to CoVID-19 restrictions in Denmark!). The topic of food waste was then presented by Executive Chef Allan Larsen, Hotel Manager Dorit Møller and marketing coordinator Trine Nielsen. The groups (and teacher), just as in Finland, followed the same process to reach solutions, as well as their evaluation of the session.
Picture (left): A student presenting his group’s solution to Food Waste to other students.