Conference proceedings article
Labor mobility in tourism and hospitality : effects on firms´capacity to innovate

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Publication Details
Subtitle: effects on firms´capacity to innovate
Author list: Zampoukos, Kristina
Publication year: 2012


According to various theories of economic geography, agglomeration economies drive innovation and the dynamic benefits of clustering facilitate learning and innovation. Additionally, many observers claim that labor mobility is a key factor when it comes to the diffusion of ideas and knowledge. In this paper we try to explore whether these theories also apply to firms in the service industry, notably tourism and hospitality. The majority of jobs in tourism and hospitality are poorly paid, highly feminized, semi-skilled or unskilled and temporary. Tourism and hospitality is also notorious for its high staff turnover. In this paper we try to identify under what circumstances labor mobility might benefit or pose a problem to firms´ capacity to innovate and meet the demand for service quality. The discussion is based on interviews with directors and human resource managers in firms located in Åre (a mountain resort in the north of Sweden) and Stockholm (capital of Sweden). Apart from being located in regions with very different conditions concerning population, labor market mobility, seasonality, and so on, the selected firms represent different sub-sectors (hotel, restaurant, tourism supplier) and also vary in terms, for example, of their size and organization. The paper concludes with a discussion on labor mobility in connection to, on the one hand, knowledge diffusion and, on the other hand, knowledge-accumulation.

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