Title: Collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship in tourism: a case study of how design thinking created a cultural cluster in Dublin

Authors: Peter Robbins; Frank Devitt

Addresses: EDEN Centre for Entrepreneurship, Department of Design Innovation, Faculty of Social Sciences, Maynooth University, Kildare, Ireland ' Department of Design Innovation, Faculty of Social Sciences, Maynooth University, Kildare, Ireland

Abstract: Tourism accounts for 7.3% of national employment in Ireland and tourists with a craving for culture, the 'culturally curious', are a key market-segment. Following Ireland's economic collapse, the national tourism agency has evolved its role from funding tourism infrastructure to facilitating collaborative innovation. This paper presents the revelatory case study of Merrion Square, a tourism local innovation system (TLIS) of mainly cultural organisations who collaborated using design thinking, which incorporated ethnographic research, involving customers, tour operators, historians and artists to develop a portfolio of entrepreneurial and novel ideas for enhanced tourism experiences. The result was a series of successful new enterprises and the development of a sustained higher level of cooperation between the institutions. 85% of the institutions involved report increased visitor numbers as a consequence. This paper makes a valuable contribution by establishing design thinking's role in collaborative, multi-sectoral tourism service innovation and entrepreneurship.

Keywords: innovation; design thinking; collaboration; cultural tourism; cultural clusters; tourism entrepreneurship; smart specialisation; regional innovation; cultural entrepreneurship; culture; creativity; case study; Dublin; Ireland; ethnographic research; cultural heritage; tourism services; service innovation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEIM.2017.083454

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 2017 Vol.21 No.3, pp.185 - 211

Received: 24 Feb 2016
Accepted: 01 Apr 2016

Published online: 20 Mar 2017 *

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