A Review of Adventure Tourism Literature

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25451482464_a4c1837cac_z[We are pleased to welcome Mingming Cheng of UTS Business School. Mingming recently published an article in Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research entitled “A Tri-Method Approach to a Review of Adventure Tourism Literature: Bibliometric Analysis and a Quantitative Systematic Literature Review” with co-authors Deborah Edwards, Simon Darcy, and Kylie Redfern.]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

When I conducted my literature review at the start of my doctoral study, I realised that the current methods in reviewing literature are mainly with narrative analysis. These reviews are usually conducted by leading experts in a particular field. However, such reviews are highly subjective and might have a range of potential biases. Current Issue CoverParticularly, it seems nearly impossible for me as a young researcher to replicate their studies. Sometimes, I wondered how they have drawn a certain conclusion. Along the way, I realised that some researchers use a systematic review approach that identifies the key categories with the literature to provide a generalization but still it is unclear where the current literature comes from, and who and what theories influence the field. In addition, I also noticed that there are a considerable number of researchers using bibliometric methods to identity the knowledge base and intellectual structure of a particularly field. However, similar questions came to me again: bibilometric methods could not identity whether the argument is supportive or offers a critique. Thus, I wondered what if I combine them together, would it yield different outcomes?

As such, based on previous work and particularly inspired by one of my colleagues’ work (Randawa, Wilden & Hohberger, 2016), we utilized the strengths of three different methods to advance previous reviews on a particular field (adventure tourism in this study) via a more, systematic, objective and integrated review of its literature. Our approach identifies the theoretical foundations, key themes and the conceptual boundary of a particular field.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

The findings are very surprising to us as we discovered something that have been overlooked in the literature and this helps us clearly identify future opportunities for emerging research areas. The combination of biblometric methods, content analysis and a quantitative systematic literature review approach gives our researchers multiple lenses to the current literature. In particular, the bibliometric and content analysis in our study shows that adventure tourism still has a great reliance on established disciplines for theories, such as flow theory, edge work, and reversal theory. As such, despite the gradually changing focus (e.g. destination development and impact) and new methods of investigation (e.g. auto-ethnography), scholarship in this field is relatively immature compared to many other tourism areas. As such, future opportunities exist for better integration of other relevant theories through disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary and contextual field with adventure tourism research.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

From an academic point of view, our research provides a clear-cut picture of the adventure tourism literature by understanding its theoretical movement, key themes and its conceptual boundary. Thus, it enables our researchers to visibly position ourselves in the literature to detect potential new directions as well as to locate their work within the field. From a methodological perspective, it advances extant methodological literature on the review of literature by analyzing the field in a holistic, objective and integrated manner that helps reduce the bias that is often related to traditional literature review methods and expert interviews. From a practical perspective, it can serve as an introduction to a rapidly evolving adventure tourism field for students and practitioners.

The abstract for the paper:

This article provides an objective, systematic, and integrated review of the Western academic literature on adventure tourism to discover the theoretical foundations and key themes underlying the field by combining three complementary approaches of bibliometric analysis, content analysis, and a quantitative systematic review. A total of 114 publications on adventure tourism were identified that revealed three broad areas of foci with adventure tourism research: (1) adventure tourism experience, (2) destination planning and development, and (3) adventure tourism operators. Adventure tourism has an intellectual tradition from multiple disciplines, such as the social psychology of sport and recreation. There is an underrepresentation of studies examining non-Western tourists in their own geographic contexts or non-Western tourists in Western geographic contexts. Our findings pave ways for developing a more robust framework and holistic understanding of the adventure tourism field.

You can read “A Tri-Method Approach to a Review of Adventure Tourism Literature: Bibliometric Analysis and a Quantitative Systematic Literature Review” from Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to stay current on all the latest research from Journal of Hospitality & Tourism ResearchClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Kayak image attributed to Matt Zimmerman (CC)

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