Growth and Empowerment: Making Development Happen (Munich Lectures)

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Innovation capacity has increased: spin-offs were created and stakeholders have embraced open and collaborative innovation. Now, stakeholders are determined to make the process sustainable by finding other funding sources. But what should be the level of cooperation and intervention? What level can best foster innovation and knowledge retention? A case study combining a grid of characteristics and levels of analysis for living labs was used to identify one key question: for a living lab in tourism, does scale matter?

This article will explore that question and will contribute to the understanding of the living lab as a model of socio-territorial action. To grow and develop, businesses must innovate Schumpeter, The tourism industry is no different: it needs to innovate so that businesses and destinations can evolve and stand out.

Because of its fragmented and multi-stakeholder nature, the tourism industry is particularly well suited to open and collaborative innovation Egger et al. The living lab approach aims to promote and structure stakeholder collaboration, and its key feature is that users become fully fledged stakeholders in the co-creation process and are involved from the very beginning, in a real-life environment. With interactions between users tourists and providers of technology and tourist services being a key catalyst for innovation Hjalager, , living lab could create increased collaboration opportunities through a common platform where stakeholders would share, discuss, assess, and design various solutions Pucihar et al.

The living lab under consideration in this article deals with a geography-based activity: tourism. Living labs often use a territory as a focus for development or innovation. When living labs deal with strongly territorial industries, such as tourism Lapointe et al.


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To advance reflection on these matters, we used the three-levels grid of analysis proposed by Schuurman and colleagues to describe the case of a tourism industry living lab Lapointe et al. We are attempting to highlight how the framework applies to the reality of the pilot project in order to identify gaps, particularities, and similarities that could provide insight into the scaling and sustainability of the implemented innovation ecosystem. The article is structured as follows. First, we will review the literature on living labs and levels of innovation. Then, we will apply the three-level framework to an action research project in living lab mode with the tourism industry.

Finally, we will discuss the relevance of combining levels of innovation process with socio-territorial geographic scales. With the living lab approach, users must be at the centre of research or innovation efforts. With their three-level model Table 1 , they propose the following definition Schuurman et al. On the macro level, Living Labs are a Public-Private-People partnership organized to exchange knowledge and conduct innovation projects.

We regard these Living Lab innovation projects, that are characterized by active user involvement, co-creation, multi-method and multi-stakeholder, as the meso level. These projects consist of different research steps that are aimed at generating user input and contribution to the innovation process, which we consider to be the micro level. Table 1. Levels of analysis for living labs Schuurman, ; Schuurman et al. Living lab constellation ecosystem, public—private—people partnership. This article will apply this three-level model to analyze a living lab project in the tourism sector, which is not technology intensive.

We will combine this model with the territorial scales macro, meso, and micro to describe and understand how innovation level and territorial scales can be combined in a socio-territorial model of action. We will use this grid to characterize the ongoing living lab project and to explore possible options for sustainable engagement.

However, these levels refer to the processes implemented to stimulate innovation, not to geographic scales. Nevertheless, when the innovation process is integrated into an economic sector that is deeply rooted in a given territory, reflections on the correspondence between innovation levels and geographic scales can be fruitful.

They discuss spaces of encounter meso level as well as the time and nature of encounters micro level. According to Leminen, DeFillippi, and Westerlund , who identified paradoxical tensions in the living lab approach, larger scales are better because they maximize stakeholder diversity and knowledge retention, and because larger user pools are easier to segment. However, local needs and contexts should be taken into account. These authors believe that combining several local contexts into a broader ecosystem is beneficial.

This continuum of physical, social, and virtual spaces enables governance, concertation, and knowledge retention at the macro level as well as interventions, user involvement, co-creation, experimentation, and evaluation at the meso and micro levels. In cases with a territorial dimension, such as the tourism industry, living labs would feature relatively broad concertation and cooperation territories roughly following official administrative space.

It also encompasses, at a lower geographic scale, spaces of encounter and intervention e. These spaces following social and lived spaces at meso and micro geographic scales. We conducted action research to document the iterative co-creation process behind the design of a technology-enhanced tourist experience, which was conceptualized according to the needs and actions of tourists discovering a new destination.

The role of lead researchers is to oversee the living lab process, prepare co-creation workshops, and facilitate co-creation both in situ and online. They describe how innovation capability is growing, and the drivers and barriers at play. The collaborating researchers support the co-creation process, deliver specific workshops on technology and the tourist experience, and help to document and characterize the growth in innovation capability.

It is done using case study methodology Yin, In this case study, we captured user feedback iteratively and sometimes led to modifications of the processes. There were multiple opportunities for feedback and evaluation by users: before, during, and after activities; during workshops; and during field testing. The role of the lead researcher was to oversee the process, prepare co-creation workshops, and facilitate co-creation both in situ and online. Two sources of data were used to describe the case and analyze the innovation processes.

The first source was all the documents and notes produced by the partners involved in the process, which includes text data from a tourist panel and from an in situ observation of tourists using the innovations. Through this article, we continue our analysis of an innovation project in a living lab setting that included a higher-education institution, a destination management organization, a technology developer, tourism providers, and tourists.

Its intention was to produce podcasts. The two-year project involved a community of tourism providers and tourists and used a combination of virtual and in situ collaborative processes to conceptualize, prototype, and test the tourist experience.

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The project provided an opportunity to achieve co-creation in a living lab setting. In terms of living lab characteristics, the project is a small, but typical living lab.


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  • The following subsections describe the levels of analysis. The macro level is where stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem come together and discuss the planning and governance of the area or industry where user-driven innovation is needed.

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    The macro level is the group of stakeholders that choose the specific living lab projects to be conducted. It is where knowledge and expertise accumulate.

    In the ongoing project under consideration, the macro and meso levels overlap to form a single level, as is often the case in less mature living lab structures that work on a single project. Indeed, in this action research project, the governance, and the planning are done by the same key stakeholders who are leading the co-creation process at the meso level.

    These stakeholders include a technology provider, a destination management organization, and the local higher-education and research institution, which is also a living lab called LLio: Living lab en innovation ouverte Living Lab in Open Innovation. For the moment, the research question of the living lab constellation macro is the research question of the living lab project meso : How can we create a technology-enhanced tourist experience — and how can we integrate this approach at the destination level?

    Growth and Empowerment: Making Development Happen (Munich Lectures in Economics)

    The macro level, based on the model by Schuurman and colleagues , could improve transfer and retention of the knowledge accumulated through living lab projects meso level. In the case under consideration, training could be offered to stakeholders outside the living lab project. Tools and documents could be circulated, and documents could be shared in a monitoring and curation context. In the three-level model, the macro level the living lab constellation is viewed as a structure that can accommodate various projects.

    Even though the macro and meso levels overlap in the current living lab structure by having the same key stakeholders, some impacts at the macro level can be identified:. In the two rounds of the Policy Delphi exercise, all 10 participants rated the integration of all elements of the Destination 2.

    They identified the living lab as an enabler, but they also pinpointed the importance of extending their new capacities to the whole destination. The meso level guides the innovation project conducted using a living lab approach. The committee plans the key project stages and approves inputs and outputs at each stage. The lead researcher plans individual workshops in more detail. So far, the living lab project meso level has enabled the development of two mobile apps, has improved innovation capacity, and has provided a physical and virtual space for engagement and co-creation.

    The micro level focuses on the timing and content of co-creation meetings and user interactions.

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    These various types of interactions take place in spaces of encounter and interaction. In the living lab project under consideration, the following spaces were used:. In the project under consideration, the meso and macro levels overlap. In a more mature living lab structure, the meso level would likely be associated with a specific innovation project like the ongoing one, while the macro level — within a broader territory or industry — could supervise multiple innovation projects and optimize knowledge retention and transfer.

    The meso level would provide a reusable but adaptable template that could be applied to various individual cases and sub-territories across the living lab constellation.

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    This is a meso scale of intervention. All tourism providers were also local. The tourist community was made up of people users from within and outside the region. Assuming that the research question and the living lab structure were applied at the macro level in order for the living lab to mature and to consolidate its operations, what would be the appropriate scale?

    Local, regional, supra-regional, national, or industry-wide?

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