Focusing on Knowledge Exchange: The Role of Trust in Tourism Networks

  • Conor McTiernanEmail author
  • Rhodri Thomas
  • Stephanie Jameson


It has long been recognised that an organisation’s ability to acquire and use external knowledge is related to its level of innovativeness. As others have shown, the acquisition of knowledge is often tied to networks of relationships, on different spatial scales, between those working in similar or quite different organisations. Not surprisingly, public policy-makers responsible for tourism development have invested resources in establishing and nurturing relationships between themselves and other actors and, in recognition of the importance of peer-to-peer learning, have facilitated networks between actors within particular destinations.

This chapter explores what has become seen as a critical element in productive tourism knowledge networks, namely the trust shared between actors. Following a brief review of the literature on knowledge transfer (or exchange), it does so by assessing competing and complementary conceptualisations of trust and considering their potential influence on knowledge flows. The chapter concludes by arguing that as public policy-makers and tourism organisations look to the future, they would do well to reflect upon strategies for generating trust if they are to encourage greater learning and innovation.


Knowledge transfer Trust Innovation systems 


  1. Argote, L., & Ingram, P. (2000). Knowledge transfer: A basis for competitive advantage in firms. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 82(1), 150–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asheim, B., Lawton Smith, H., & Oughton, C. (2011). Regional innovation systems: Theory, empirics and policy. Regional Studies, 45(7), 875–891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atkinson, R., Crawford, L., & Ward, S. (2006). Fundamental uncertainties in projects and scope of project management. Journal of Project Management, 24(8), 687–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bibb, S., & Kourdi, L. (2004). Trust matters for organisational and personal success (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  5. Brensen, M., & Marshall, N. (2000). Building partnerrships: Case studies of client contractor collaboration in the UK. Construction Management and Economics, 18(7), 819–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Butler, J. (1991). Toward understanding and measuring conditions of trust: Evolution of a condition of trust inventory. Journal of Management, 17, 643–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Butler, J., & Cantrell, S. (1984). A behaviour decision theory approach to modeling dyadic trust in superiors and subordinates. Psychological Reports, 55, 19–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cantner, U., Joel, K., & Schmidt, T. (2011). The effects of knowledge management on innovation success - An empirical analysis of German firms. Research Policy, 40(10), 1453–1462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cavusgil, T., Calantone, R., & Zhao, Y. (2003). Tacit knowledge transfer and firm innovation capability. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 18(1), 6–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheng, M. (2016). Sharing economy: A review and agenda for future research. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 57, 60–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chow, I. (2008). How trust reduces transaction costs and enhances performance in China's business. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 2, 25–34.Google Scholar
  12. Clegg, C., Unsworth, K., Epitropaki, O., & Parker, G. (2002a). Implicating trust in the innovation process. Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, 75, 409–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clegg, S., Pitsis, T., Rura-Polley, T., & Marosszeky, M. (2002b). Governmentality Matters: Designing an alliance culture of inter-organisational collaboration for managing projects. Organisation Studies, 23(3), 317–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, W., & Levinthal, D. (1990). Absorption Capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1), 128–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coleman, J. (1990). Foundations of social theory (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Cook, J., & Wall, T. (1980). New work attitude measures of trust, organisational commitment and personal need for non-fulfilment. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 53, 39–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cooper, C. (2006). Knowledge management and tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 33(1), 47–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cooper, C. (2015). Managing tourism knowledge. Tourism Recreation Research, 40(1), 107–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cummings, L., & Bromiley, P. (1996). The organisational trust inventory: Development and validation. In R. Kramer & T. Tyler (Eds.), Trust in organisations: Frontiers of theory and research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Darroch, J. (2005). Knowledge management, innovation and firm performance. Journal of Knowledge Management, 9(3), 101–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dennis, A., Valacich, J., & Fuller, R. (2008). Media, tasks and communication processes: A theory of media synchronicity. MIS Quarterly, 32(3), 575–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dovey, K. (2009). The role of trust in innovation. The Learning Organisation, 16(4), 311–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dredge, D. (2015). Does relevance matter in academic policy research? Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events., 7(2), 173–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dyer, J., & Singh, H. (1998). The relational view: Co-operative strategy and sources of interorganisational competitive advantage. The Academy of Management Review, 23(4), 660–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Easterby-Smith, M., Lyles, M., & Tsang, E. (2008). Inter-organisational knowledge transfer: Current themes and future prospects. Journal of Management Studies, 45(4), 677–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fadol, Y., & Sandhu, M. (2013). The role of trust on the performance of strategic alliances in a cross-cultural context: A study of the UAE. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 20(1), 106–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fine, G., & Holyfield, L. (1996). Secrecy, trust and dangerous leisure: Generating cohesion in voluntary organisations. Social Psychology Quaterly, 59, 22–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fuglsang, L., Sundbo, J., & Sørensen, F. (2011). Dynamics of experience service innovation: Innovation as a guided activity–results from a Danish survey. The Service Industries Journal, 31(5), 661–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gabarro, J. (1978). The development of trust, influence and expectations. In A. Athos & J. Gabarro (Eds.), Interpersonal behaviour. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  30. Gambetta, D. (1988). Can we trust trust trust? In D. Gambetta (Ed.), Trust: Making ad breaking cooperative relationships (pp. 213–237). Cambridge: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  31. Garvin, D. (1990). A note on quality: The views of Deming, Juran and Crosby. Harvard: Harvard Business School Background Note.Google Scholar
  32. Germann Molz, J. (2013). Social networking technologies and the moral economy of alternative tourism: The case of Annals of Tourism Research, 43, 210–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grey, C., & Garsten, C. (2001). Trust, control and post-bureacracy. Organisational Studies, 22(2), 229–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hamel, G. (1991). Competition for competence and inter-party learning within international stratgic alliances. Strategic Management Journal, 12, 83–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hawke, M. (1994). Mythology and reality: The perception of trust in the building industry. Construction Papers of the Chartered Institute of Building, 41, 3–6.Google Scholar
  36. Hjalager, A. (2002). Repairing innovation defectiveness in tourism. Tourism Management, 23(5), 465–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hjalager, A. (2009). Cultural tourism innovation systems–the Roskilde festival. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 9(2), 266–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hjalager, A. (2010). A review of innovation research in tourism. Tourism Management, 31(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Inkpen, A. (2002). Learning, knowledge management, and strategic alliances: So many studies, so many unanswered questions. In F. Contractor & P. Lorange (Eds.), Cooperative strategies and alliances (pp. 267–289). Kiglington: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  40. Inkpen, A., & Tsang, E. (2005). Social capital, networks and knowledge transfer. Academy of Management Review, 30(1), 146–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jones, G., & George, J. (1998). The experience and evolution of trust: Implications for co-operation and teamwork. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 531–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kadefors, A. (2004). Trust in project relationships - Inside the black box. International Journal of Project Management, 22(3), 175–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ko, D., Kirsch, L., & King, W. (2005). Antecedents of knowledge transfer from consultants to clients in enterprise systems implementations. MIS Quarterly, 29(1), 59–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kramer, R. (1999). Trust and distrust in organisations: Emerging perspectives, enduring questions. Annual Review of Psychology, 50(1), 569–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Larzelere, R., & Huston, T. (1980). The Dyadic trust scale: Toward understanding inter-personal trust in close relationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 42, 595–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Levin, D., & Cross, R. (2004). The strenght of weak ties you can trust: The mediating role of trust in effective knowledge transfer. Management Science, 50(11), 1477–1490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Maurer, I. (2010). How to build trust in inter-organisational projects: The impact of project staffing and project rewards on the formation of trust, knowledge aquisition and project innovation. International Journal of Project Management, 28(7), 629–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mayer, R., Davis, J., & Schoorman, F. (1995). An integrative model of organisational trust. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McEvily, B., Perone, B., & Zaheer, V. (2003). Trust as an organising pinciple. Organisation Science, 14(1), 91–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Meyerson, D., Weick, K., & Roferick, M. (2006). Swift trust in temporary groups. In R. Kramer (Ed.), Organisational trust. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Minbaeva, D. (2007). Knowledge transfer in multinational corporations. Management International Review, 47(4), 567–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Misztal, B. (1996). Trust in modern societies (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  53. Molina-Morales, F., Martinez-Fernandez, M., & Torlo, V. (2011). The dark side of trust: The benefits, costs and optimal levels of trust for innovation performance. Long Range Planning, 44(2), 118–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mooradian, T., Renzl, B., & Matzler, K. (2006). Who trusts? Personality, trust and knowledge sharing. Management Learning, 37(4), 523–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. (1998). Social capital, intellectual capital and organisational advantage. Academy of Management Review, 23(2), 242–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nielsen, B., & Nielsen, S. (2009). Learning and innovation in international strategic alliances: An empirical test on the role of trust and tacitness. Journal of Management Studies, 46(6), 1031–1056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Niu, K. (2010). Organisational trust and knowledge obtaining in industrial clusters. Journal of Knowledge Management, 14(1), 141–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nordqvist, S., Hovmark, S., & Zita-Viktorsson, A. (2004). Percieved time pressure and social process in project teams. International Journal of Project Management, 22(6), 463–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Novelli, M., Schmitz, B., & Spencer, T. (2006). Networks, clusters and innovation in tourism: A UK experience. Tourism Management, 27(6), 1141–1152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Nunkoo, R. (2015). Corrolates of political trust and support for tourism: Development of a conceptual framework. In R. Nunkoo & S. Smith (Eds.), Trust, tourism development and planning (pp. 143–167). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  61. Nunkoo, R., & Gursoy, D. (2016). Rethinking the role of power and trust in tourism planning. Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management, 25(4), 512–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nunkoo, R., & Ramkissoon, H. (2012). Power, trust, social exchange and community support. Annals of Tourism Research, 39(2), 997–1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nunkoo, R., & Smith, S. (2015). Trust, tourism development and planning. In R. Nunkoo & S. Smith (Eds.), Trust, tourism development and planning (pp. 1–9). Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  64. Oberg, P., & Svesson, T. (2010). Does power drive out trust? Relations between labour market actors in Sweeden. Political Studies, 58(1), 143–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Petersen, K., Handfield, R., & Ragatz, G. (2005). Supplier integration into new product development: Coordinating product, process and supply chain design. Journal of Operations Management, 23, 371–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Powell, W., White, D., Koput, K., & Owen-Smith, J. (2005). Network dynamics and field evolution: The growth of inter-organisational collaboration in the life sciences. Americal Journal of Sociology, 110(4), 1132–1205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Rai, R. (2011). Knowledge management and organisational culture: A theoretical integrative framework. Journal of Knowledge Management, 15(5), 779–801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Reed, R., & DeFillipi, R. J. (1990). Casual ambiguity, barriers to imitation and sustainable competive advantage. Academy of Management Review, 15, 88–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rhodes, J., et al. (2008). Factors influencing organisational knowledge transfer: Implications for corporate performance. Journal of Knowledge Management, 12(3), 84–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Robson, M., Katsikkeas, C., & Bello, D. (2008). Drivers and performance outcomes of trust in strategic alliances: The role of organisational complexity. Organisational Science, 19(4), 647–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rousseau, D., Sitkin, S., Burt, R., & Camerer, C. (1998). Not so different after all: A cross discipline view of trust. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 393–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sankowska, A. (2013). Relationships between organisational trust, knowledge transfer, knowledge creation and firm innovativeness. The Learning Organisation, 20(1), 85–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Shaw, G. (2015). Tourism networks, knowledge dynamics and co-creation. In M. McLeod & R. Vaughan (Eds.), Knowledge networks and tourism (pp. 45–61). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  74. Shaw, G., & Williams, A. (2009). Knowledge transfer and management in tourism organisations: An emerging research agenda. Tourism Management, 30(3), 325–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Spraggon, M., & Bodolica, V. (2012). A multidimensial taxonomy of intra-firm knowledge transfer processes. Journal of Business Research, 65(9), 1273–1282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Stacke, A., Hoffman, V., & Costa, H. (2012). Knowledge transfer among clustered firms: A study of Brazil. Anatolia – An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research, 23(1), 90–106.Google Scholar
  77. Szulanski, G., Cappetta, R., & Jensen, R. (2004). When and how trustworthiness matters: Knowledge transfer and the moderating effect of causal ambiguity. Organisation Science, 15(5), 600–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Thomas, R. (2012). Business elites, universities and knowledge transfer in tourism. Tourism Management, 33(3), 553–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Thomas, H. (2015). Does relevance matter in academic policy research? A comment on Dredge. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, 7(2), 178–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Thomas, R., & Wood, E. (2014). Innovation in tourism: Reconceptualising and measuring the absorptive capacity of the hotel sector. Tourism Management, 45, 39–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Thomas, R., & Wood, E. (2015). The absorptive capacity of tourism organisations. Annals of Tourism Research, 54, 84–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Tsai, W., & Ghoshal, S. (1998). Social capitital and value creation: The role of intrafirm networks. Academy of Management Review, 41(4), 464–476.Google Scholar
  83. Tsoukas, H., & Vladimitou, E. (2001). What is organisational knowledge? Journal of Management Studies, 38(7), 973–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Tyler, T., & Kramer, R. (1996). Whiter trust? In R. Kramer & T. Tyler (Eds.), Trust in organisations. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  85. Utterback, J. (1994). Mastering the dynamics of innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  86. Van de Ven, A. H. (2007). Engaged scholarship: A guide for organizational and social research (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Van Wijk, R., Jansen, J., & Lyles, M. (2008). Inter‐and intra‐organizational knowledge transfer: A meta‐analytic review and assessment of its antecedents and consequences. Journal of Management Studies, 45(4), 830–853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Wang, L., Yeung, J., & Zhang, M. (2011). The impact of trust and contract on innovation performance: The moderating role of environmental uncertainty. Journal of Production Economics, 134, 114–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Weidenfeld, A., Williams, A., & Butler, R. (2010). Knowledge transfer and innovation among attractions. Annals of Tourism Research, 37(3), 604–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Werner, K., Dickson, G., & Hyde, K. (2015). Learning and knowledge transfer processes in a mega-events context: The case of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Tourism Management, 48, 174–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. White, D., & Fortune, J. (2002). Current practive in project management: An empirical study. Journal of Project Management, 20(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Wong, P., & Cheung, S. (2004). Trust in construction partnering: Views from parties of the partnering dance. International Journal of Project Management, 22, 437–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Woolthuis, R., Hillebrand, B., & Nooteboom, B. (2005). Trust, contract and relationship development. Organisational Studies, 26(6), 813–840.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Zahra, S., & George, G. (2002). Absorption capacity: A review, reconceptualisation and extension. Academy of Management Review, 27(2), 185–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Conor McTiernan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rhodri Thomas
    • 2
  • Stephanie Jameson
    • 2
  1. 1.Letterkenny Institute of TechnologyLetterkennyIreland
  2. 2.Leeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations