• Cian Anthony Maurice Flanagan
4. term, Tourism, Master (Master Programme)
This paper seeks to explore the processes by which employees in innovative tourism experience organisations learn how to engage in the delivery of experiences. The conceptual framework chosen to do this is the communities of practice concept made famous by Lave and Wenger (1991) and Wenger (1998). This practice-based approach to understanding learning and knowledge allows for them to be understood in a social context rather than determined purely by the actions or abilities of the individual. This approach sees knowledge and action as inseparable and so engaging in a practice with other ‘practitioners’ is considered a negotiated and continuous learning process. In the case of tourism experiences where the key element of the experience framework is the staff, the practice-based approach is well-fitted for exploring the manner by which employees learn from each other and from customers while engaging in the practice.
This framework has been applied to the acclaimed Hamlet Live experience that, for the previous five Summers, has being held at Kronborg Castle, Helsingør, Denmark. The research period began in the immediate aftermath of the re-opening of the tourism attractions and museums, which provided an opportunity to explore employee learning for an experience that was undergoing dramatic changes. A case study approach has been applied in order to study the dynamics of the tourism employee learning process in-depth.
Some of the issues and areas that have emerged from this study relate to peripheral learning, the canonical and non-canonical interpretation of tasks, learning across community boundaries, the influence of competence on engagement and factors influencing employee alignment with the goals of tourism management. The two key issues that have emerged as points for discussion are the influence of customers on the tourism employee learning process and the related issue of the dynamics between competence and community engagement in practice. The latter saw the application of a new perspective on competence in the communities of practice literature. This was in the form of distinguishing between foundational competence, which related to the long-term, learning that occurred across communities, and practice-specific competence, which related to experience-driven learning that was visible within the tourism employee community of practice. These were represented by language and improvised interaction respectively.
The points for discussion and the concepts of foundational and practice-specific competence were both discussed in relation to how tourism management could understand and facilitate employee learning, particularly when drastic change must be implemented. The use of a single qualitative case study in what can be seen as an exploration of a relatively little researched area, means that that the findings of paper are not meant to be generalisable and any consideration of them should relate to the context from which they were drawn.

Publication date10 Nov 2020
Number of pages62
ID: 378386113