Research Interest

I am primarily concerned with analysing the constitution of the economy as multiple forms of economic practices across space. This involves research on the capitalist structures of the economy as well as non-capitalist forms of economic exchanges. In this work I draws on a diverse set of theoretical foundations, such as political economy, post-structuralism and post-colonialism, integrating them to an alternative political economy.

Previous and current work on tourism commodity chains offers a perspective on the capitalist structures surrounding tourism development and the upgrading opportunities for developing nations or firms situated in these. In addition to analysing the structural characteristics of the formalised capitalist tourism economy, I am also interested in multiple and alternative economies of tourism. Of particular interest are the ways in which multiple economies coalesce and produce distinctive spaces creating specific social relations.

PhD Opportunities

I am always interested in supervising enthusiastic researchers that are committed to furthering intellectual and empirical enquiry within the fields of tourism, mobility, diverse economies, political economy, governance, commodity chains, sustainability, hospitality and events. My research and supervisory experience include a variety of different topics, methodologies and research approaches.

Applicants should have a good degree at undergraduate or master level and have a good overview of the literature relevant to their chosen topic as well as knowledge and experience of social science research methods.

Send me an email if you think that I might be the right person to guide you through the PhD journey.

Current Research Projects

The Practice of Individual entrepreneurship in Stat-Socialism: A case study of tourism entrepreneurship in Hengquin, China

with Dr Chin-Ee Ong (University of Wageningen, Netherlands) and Dr Sharif Shams Imon (Institute for Tourism Studies, Macao SAR).

Entrepreneurs in market economies are seen as the drivers of innovation and economic development (Henry et al. 2003, DTI, 2001), yet are generally distrusted in planned economies. They have to navigate the state-socialist regulatory system (represented by state institutions and their rules and regulations) while at the same time responding to market economies. The main objective of this project is to focus on individual Chinese entrepreneurs who are at the interface of the two economic models. The study will examine strategies and practices used by tourism entrepreneurs to adapt to a dynamic political economic environment and aims to determine the role of entrepreneurship in creating social identity and furthering socio-economic inclusion.

On the one hand this project aims to highlight how individuals negotiate multiple economies, but also how a different value system may 'produce' a particular type of entrepreneur.

 

Negotiating the Interface of Market and Planned Economies: the Case of Cuban Tourism Entrepreneurs

with Prof. Richard Sharpley (University of Central Lancashire, UK) and Martin Knight (University of Lincoln, UK).

paradorAs an isolated state-socialist country within the wider Americas, Cuba is in a unique geo-political position. In contrast to other state-socialist countries (i.e. China and North Korea), Cuba has adopted a hybrid political economic model, which combines state socialist planning and market principles. During the special period (1990-1994), a period of economic crisis due the loss of foreign aid from the Soviet Union due to its political-economic transition in 1989 and stricter US sanctions to further destabilise the socialist government, tourism was seen as a key earner of foreign exchange and driver of economic development (Spencer 2010, Colantonio and Potter 2006, Hall 2001). As part of this strategy, the Cuban government created joint ventures with transnational hotel companies in order to gain foreign capital while still retaining some stake in and control of the tourism industry. The government also started to recognise private entrepreneurial activities such as the operation of casas particulares (Cuban-style bed & breakfasts) and paradores (restaurants in private homes), which previously operated in the informal economy.

The tourism industry is a prime example of the duality of the Cuban model, as it is based on market economic principles for its international tourism ventures with large hotel chains and select tourism entrepreneurs, yet is embedded in a largely state-socialist political-economic environment.

Of particular interest to this research project are the experiences of tourism entrepreneurs in Cuba in order to explore and understand their ambiguous position in a planned economy.

 

Drinking culture: commodification, identity and tourism experiences at wine festivals

with Dr Teresa Leopold

Franconian Wine Festival Wine festivals, which celebrate local identity and simultaneously attract tourists to the region, are places where tourists can engage in local rituals and partake in the practices that sustain local identity. They represent examples of innovative rural destination branding and co-visitation, within which local customs and rituals are not mere representations of a local identity and thus attractive for only locals, but provide opportunities for places to engage in the experience economy as tourist destination.

Visiting wine festivals goes beyond the consumption of wine but includes the consumption of local identity both for locals and visitors. Yet the commodification of local festival experiences for visitors - a key aspect of the experience economy - may run counter to the notion of group and place identity. The research analyses the role of wine festivals in forming, maintaining and maybe challenging the perceptions, practices and rituals of local identity and culture.

 

Transnational education and Communities of Practice

with Tatjana Pahaluev and the Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Events, University of Sunderland

off-campus studentResearch in higher education has demonstrated that learning about best practices in teaching and learning occurs within communities of practice. Our on-campus programmes are highly successful due to our approach to learning and teaching and to student engagement more widely. This philosophy is a vital ingredient in ensuring a high level of student experience. Yet, our off-campus colleagues are removed from our community of practice. We primarily rely on them to extract our learning and teaching philosophies and practices from our teaching material (i.e. ppt slides).

This research project aims to determine how best to incorporate our TNE partners into our on-campus communities of practice. In order to ensure a good student experience for our off-campus students (and ultimately the continued success of our off-campus operations in a time of increased competition for the international market), it is necessary to translate our on-campus success via developing a community of practice and utilizing new spaces of engagement with the teaching staff of TNE partners.