Destination Leadership: Evaluating Effectiveness of Leadership Development Program

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Fang, Marcela (2018) Destination Leadership: Evaluating Effectiveness of Leadership Development Program. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


Effective leadership is understood to drive better team performance outcomes and contribute to organisational growth. Current literature highlights that leadership refers to a process of influencing others in a manner that enhances their contribution to the realisation of group goals. However, to be an effective leader in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment, suitable leadership skills are needed to enable and to foster successful outcomes through leadership. Although not a new phenomenon in mainstream research, leadership in the tourism research and specifically in the tourism destination management field has only started to emerge. The current research literature shows how little is known about leadership in the tourism destination context. Despite the gap in research and not knowing what constitutes effective leadership in the tourism field, various organisations have been developing leadership development programs and promoting these to current and future managers operating within the visitor economy. Although these programs are believed to be underpinned by various leadership theories and concepts, it is not clear whether such programs are designed to fit the tourism destination context, and whether they are indeed contributing to the development of effective leadership. Leadership and context are inseparable, and due to the continuing change in the tourism environment, leadership at destinations need to proactively engage and guide integrated stakeholder cooperation and collaboration to facilitate sustainable development of quality visitor experiences. The aim of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of a tourism-based leadership initiative that supports leadership development within Victoria’s visitor economy, and to inform current and future leadership development, and leadership programs. Hence, this study first explores leadership within the tourism context to identify an effective leadership, followed by assessing whether an existing tourism-based leadership development training fits with the tourism context. In doing so, the program content, such as leadership skills, knowledge and behaviours, the program training approach and the outcomes derived from the training at individual, workplace, tourism destination and community levels are assessed, to support conclusions about whether such an initiative is effective and whether it should be continued. Taking the epistemological pragmatic stance of John Dewey, this study uses mixed methods inquiry to help advance the knowledge and practice of leadership development and evaluation in the tourism field. To close the current leadership development and evaluation gap, the study expands David Stufflebeam’s traditional CIPP (Context, Input, Process, Product) program evaluation model with specific leadership components and measures, supported by the relevant leadership theories. The study consists of three explorative phases, qualitative, quantitative, and major qualitative, where each phase informed the development of the next. At the end, the findings from each quantitative and qualitative part contributed to the conclusion of whether the tourism-based leadership development program is effective. An application of transformational leadership model, and the use of measures associated with individual and collective leadership approaches show in this study that this new framework can effectively guide the assessment of leadership developed at two levels, individual and collective. Overall, the key value derived from the application of this model presents the ability to find out what and how the various training elements, such as the content and training approach contribute to individual, workplace, tourism destination and community outcomes. Hence, the study’s proposed conceptual framework will guide not only future leadership training evaluations but also the development of other leadership program initiatives within the visitor economy.

Additional Information

Doctor of Business Administration

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > FOR Classification > 1506 Tourism
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Business
Keywords leadership; tourism; leadership programs; Victoria
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