7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Thi Quynh Trang Nguyen

Trang Nguyen is a PhD candidate (Leisure and Tourism) in the Newcastle Business School, Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle, Australia. Her PhD research topic is network coopetition for sustainable development in Da Nang and Hue, Vietnam.
Trang held the position of lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality Faculty at National Economics University in Hanoi, Vietnam from 2010 to the commencement of her candidature. Her research fields are destination management, governance, stakeholder relationships, network analysis, and sustainable development.

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A Mixed-Method Multiple-Case Study Integrating Social Network Analysis and Actor-Network Theory

This paper explains the theoretical framework and methodology of a case study that explores the transformation of tourism destinations towards sustainable development. The Tourismscapes concept developed based on Actor-network theory (ANT) is used to explain emergent versions of destinations, as tourismscapes reflect the multiplicity of a tourism destination evolving overtime during its development progress (van der Duim, 2007). ANT offers a methodological framework to approach realities (Jóhannesson, 2005), which ethnographically provides rich description of “how things work and of how relations and practices are ordered” (Van der Duim et al., 2013, p. 6). The ANT’s translation is applied to track collective actions aiming to address specific sustainability goals at tourism destination, by which involved actors are identified and conceptualised in models of tourismscapes. This process explains the networking processes that converge multiple actors into networks of collective actions and transform destinations towards more sustainable development.
Principal actors play a central role in networking processes, as they circulate the translation to assemble actors in collective actions and maintain the networks. However, tracing translation is unable to identify actors’ ability to connect various actors, which is a characteristic of principal actors for the success of collective actions. To overcome this issue, this study employs social network analysis (SNA) which is a strategy to investigate social structures (Otte & Rousseau, 2002) by analysing social relationships between actors and identifying their positions in networks (Albrecht, 2013; Scott et al., 2008).
A mixed-method multiple-cases study was conducted in Da Nang City and Hue Province located in Central Vietnam. The unit of analysis was interactions and collective actions relating to sustainable tourism practices at these destinations. This strategy allows a combination of qualitative and quantitative materials to complement each other (Bryman, 2016; Sarantakos, 2013; Yin, 2014) and a cross-case synthesis to make the research more robust and reliable (Baxter & Jack, 2008).
The quantitative method involved a social network survey to identify connections related to tourism development in destinations. Applied network analysis and centrality (a property of a node) were conducted to calculate several metrics to describe the structure of destination networks and capture actor position in networks (Borgatti et al., 2018).
The qualitative method involved documentary analysis and fieldwork composing semi-structured interviews and observations to discover and assess a deeper understanding of the research phenomenon (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). Conforming to ANT-based research process, actions and relations were traced through the time and space, in hybrid and non-territorial environments, including non-human informants and following actors that constructed and were transformed by collective actions (Beard et al., 2016; Van der Duim et al., 2017). The qualitative data analysis involved thematic analysis, deductive, inductive strategy, pattern matching, and cross-case synthesis, supported by the NVIVO (Braun & Clarke, 2006; Fereday & Muir-Cochrane, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Yin, 2014).
By processing this design, this study contributed a convergence of SNA and ANT in tourism research and the advancement of the tourismscapes concept to understand the transformation of tourism destinations towards sustainable development.