Knowledge Management for the Development of a Smart Tourist Destination: The Possible Repositioning of Prato

Knowledge Management for the Development of a Smart Tourist Destination: The Possible Repositioning of Prato

Lucia Varra (Università di Firenze, Italy), Lucia Buzzigoli (Università di Firenze, Italy), Chiara Buzzigoli (Università di Firenze, Italy) and Roberta Loro (Università di Firenze, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6457-9.ch012
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This chapter presents, through a case analysis, the linking between knowledge management and the development of a smart tourist destination. The case here proposed, concerning the city of Prato, is an experimental project of the Region of Tuscany referring NECSTouR model ( for the implementation of a Tourism Observatory for competitiveness and sustainability of the destination. The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate how the Tourism Destination Observatory (TDO) is a knowledge management tool for the further development of tourism in this area, and how this could act as a driving force for the creation of a smart city. The methodology includes an original set of indicators on the sustainability and the competitiveness of tourist destinations, in a perspective of integrated and complementary measurements between tourist destination sustainability and city smartness. This may be a starting point for local government process.
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Knowledge Management (KM) is establishing itself as an intertwined and integrated approach in the studies of economics and management, which increasingly consider knowledge as a real source of competitive advantage. Thanks to its wide application and its cross-meaning, a considerable amount of articles and quotations have appeared on this themealong with growing interest towards the constructive advancement of the topic, as well as towards an accurate empirical validation of theoretical considerations (Barcelo-Valenzuela et al., 2008; Bontis & Serenko, 2009; Edwards, 2011; Edwards et al., 2003; Firestone, 2008; Magnier-Watanabe et al., 2011; Serenko & Bontis, 2004; Swan &Newell, 1999).

The study of Knowledge Management is gradually expanding its area of interest from the enterprise to the territory (Albino & Schiuma, 2003; Cappellin, 2003; Rullani, 2002; Schiuma & Lerro, 2008; 2010); not only for the strong and reciprocal links that are created between the organization and the elements of local environment, as regards the interrelated flows of information and knowledge, but also because of the importance that territory is increasingly acquiring as a cognitive system, which accumulates knowledge from local experiential and evolutionary processes (Becattini & Rullani, 1993; Rullani, 2002). Knowledge Management creates the conditions for innovation and increase in value for the individual and for the system.

The attention towards these topics has been recently enhanced with scientific contributions and institutional initiatives referring to the tourism sector (Baggio & Cooper, 2010; Cooper, 2006; Jensen, 2003; Seitan, 2009; Varra, 2012) in which knowledge issues are particularly critical for several reasons. Firstly, the presence of an enormous quantity of data scattered throughout the territory that are extremely heterogeneous and often unconnected and therefore (Varra, 2012) not easily acquirable and transferable. Secondly, remarkable deficiencies in terms of skills, whose development is difficult due to the small dimensions of the enterprises and to their not always strategic attitudes (Braun & Hollick, 2006; Collins et al., 2003). Last but not least, the large gap as regards ICT competencies compared to present needs (Braun, 2004; Buhalis, 2003; Hjalager, 2010), a gap that is not bridged by the operators’ behaviour because they are not very willing to devote themselves to creating the networks which are effective tools for the development of individual and collective knowledge (Baggio & Cooper, 2010; Copp & Ivy, 2001; Nordin, 2003; Otto & Richie, 1996; Schiuma & Lerro, 2008; Scott et al. 2008a; 2008b; Swan et al., 1999).

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