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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Personal interest

During my minor Making Places and Shaping Destinations  in the 4th year, I have attended classes that concerned destination governance. During these classes we had to read several academic journals which discussed the performance of governance in several nations around the globe. The class would discuss what they were doing well and what could be improved. We also looked at the cause of the good or bad performance of destination governance. During this course, one of the main things that tickled my particular interest was whether and how a nation's culture could be a reason why some DMO's and consequently destinations perform well  or perform badly. This particular question crossed my mind quite often. Therefore I have decided to take matters into my own hand and try to find out by using this subject for my thesis research.

By adopting three case studies in the cities of Bremen, Rotterdam and Marseilles I would like to find that out.  Even though all three countries are situated in Europe and there are common grounds, it could be said that there are differences between the cultures and the performance of governance.  

The employees of Bremer Touristik-Zentrale Gesellschaft für Marketing und Service mbH, Rotterdam Parners and Marseille Office de Tourisme et des Congrès will be asked about their cultural values and how they would rate the performance of good governance within their organisation. The combined results could indicate whether and  which cultural value(s) have an effect on the performance of good governance.

This thesis will go in depth about the already existing literature, the theories and frameworks that will be applied for my research, the case studies and the results and implications that derived from my empirical research.

Defining the problem and relevance for tourism sector


For the last three decades organisational scholars have been concerned with culture because they believe organisational culture affects performance (Lee and Yu, 2004). However, it is generally acknowledged that culture works on a number of different levels and the organisational level is only one (Pizam, 1993). In the context of globalised industries it is relevant for managers, especially those of multi-national corporations operating in different regions, to be aware of the effect of national culture.  A nation's culture can be perceived as the mother of all path dependencies.  Figuratively, it means that a nation's culture might be more persistent than other factors believed to induce path dependence. Substantively, a nation's unique set of cultural values might indeed affect — in a chain of causality — the development of that nation's laws in general and its corporate governance system in particular. (Licht, 2001)

Relationship between culture and governance

On a broad scale the link between national culture and corporate governance has been established. Licht (2001) states culture influences the organizational policies through the values held by decision makers. He suggests culture contributes to the interpersonal relationship of individuals and institutions relationships and consequently changes the choice of corporate governance structure. Licht, Goldschmidt, & Schwartz (2004) study the effects of culture on three social norm of governance. They are: the rule of law, non-corruption level, and democratic accountability. La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, Shleifer, & Vishny (1998) also found a noteworthy relationship between legal system and culture. De Jong & Semenov (2006) explain significant relationships between corporate control, ownership structure, protection of minority shareholders and cultural dimension of Hofstede. Li & Harrison (2008) used Hofstede model to explain the structure of corporate boards.

Problem and relevance

However, all this research have had a very broad set up. The authors used many and different institutions and companies to establish a link. This is understandable, given the fact one needs a lot of theoretical/empirical evidence to be acknowledged. Moreover, when it comes to a ‘fuzzy' concept as culture.  

Until this day, there has not been a research that establishes the link between national culture and good governance in the tourism sector. One can say that the tourism sector is a significant sector that represents a globalised industry with many multi-national corporations. As mentioned by Lee and Yu this stresses an urgency to understand the link between ones cultural values and corporate decision making. In particular the DMO's that work with different nationalities and backgrounds on a daily basis. Simultaneously, since recent times most European DMO's have changed into private-public partnerships due to a withdrawal of the national government.

This increases the responsibility of DMO's to perform well on good governance. It could be argued that the performance of a DMO and consequently the performance of a destination is influenced by its national culture. Having a simultaneous focus on cultural behaviour and performance will show to the DMO's which kind of behaviour establishes good governance and which behaviour has a reversed effect on the performance of good governance. The implications of this research will hopefully have a positive effect on the managerial decision making of the DMO's.

This thesis will use the theoretical background of other authors to establish this link in the tourism sector. Besides, there will be a simultaneous focus on what his means in practice. Having empirical proof is not sufficient enough to explain the link and help the destinations in understanding what this effect really means and what they could do in order to improve their performance as a destination.

Chapter 1. Research questions

In order to answer the main question, several other questions need to be answered first. These questions can be subdivided in three categories: describing questions, case related questions and concluding questions.

Describing questions

The starting point of my research is to discover the different components of my main question.

These components need to be clearly defined as done by different academics.

Simultaneously, it is also important  to know whether the link between national cultural and good governance has already been researched and if so, which results were discovered.  

Therefore I have come up with three describing questions.

• What is the definition of culture?

• What is good governance?

• Is there a substantial link between national culture and the performance of good governance?

Case related questions

The second point of my research is to discover more about the cities that I have chosen, naming Bremen, Marseille and Rotterdam. In order to get a complete picture on the governance performance of the destinations it is important to understand how it is organised on a national level and consequently on a local level. Next to knowing this, it is also important to understand what the cultural values are of these nations and how the DMO's perform on good governance.

Therefore I have come up with 4 questions that will provide me with the information that is required.

• How is the tourism governance organised in  France, Germany and the Netherlands?

• How is the tourism governance organised in Marseille, Bremen and the Netherlands?

• What are the cultural values of the employees in Marseille, Bremen  and Rotterdam?

• How do these organizations perform on good governance?

Concluding questions

The last point of my research is to discover whether and how national culture influences the performance of good governance in Bremen, Marseille and Rotterdam. Simultaneously, it is also important to interpret these links and the consequences on the day to day practice of the DMO's. Given that it concerns a cross-country research, it is also interesting to discover what the DMO's can learn from each other. Therefore I have come up with 3 concluding questions which will help me answer my main research question.

• Which results can be found by putting together the cultural values and the governance performance of the DMO's?

• What do these links mean in the day to day practice of the DMO's?

• What can the DMO's learn from each other using the cross-country results?

Figure 1: Theoretical/Conceptual Framework

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