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Food Tourism has been recognised as a fast growing niche area where Ireland can gain competitive advantage. In recognition of the importance of collaboration among diverse stakeholders in the development of food tourism, networks have been identified as essential. This article presents findings from research conducted with three networks and reveals the motivations for committee membership. Data was gathered in 2012 through participant observation and interviews with steering committee members on three food networks using an action research approach.
A framework for examining motivations for collaboration is offered in this article which will contribute to effective network management. Motivations are aligned on a spectrum with individualistic motivations on one end and altruistic motivations on the other. Individuals expressing motives for committee membership at the altruistic end of the spectrum tended to focus on the benefits to the community as a whole and to all the businesses involved in network initiatives. At the individualistic end of the spectrum, personal or organisational gains are the motivators for collaboration. The majority of participants were motivated to become involved by recognising the potential benefits to others in the region as well as the personal benefits that could be gained from committee membership. The desire and ability of individuals to volunteer for committee membership was also influenced by contextual factors in the social and business environment within which they operated.
Understanding that within a committee, all committee members have their own, possibly different motivations for participation and that there are contextual elements that encourage or prevent them from acting on these motivations, will allow for more effective collaboration and will contribute to the sustainability of networks.
O’Leary D.F. & Stafford M.R. (2013) An exploration of the motivations behind committee membership in food networks. International Council for Hospitality Management Education Conference. Edinburgh.