Issues in researching Indigenous tourism enterprises
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Conducting effective research into Indigenous tourism enterprises brings with it a set of issues that may significantly influence research processes and outcomes. In part, this is because such research crosses the boundaries of three distinct disciplinary fields (Indigenous studies, tourism, and small business), each of which has its own related research issues, conventions and frameworks. To begin with, any attempt to investigate Indigenous issues must take into account the heterogenity of the Indigenous population, definitional issues regarding the appropriate use of the term 'Indigenous', the dangers of possible over-sampling, the need to ensure reciprocity with research participants, the need to obtain permission to use and share information, and the obligation to conform with ethical requirements. Research is sometimes made more difficult by the lack of written archival historical sources, and must frequently rely instead on alternate sources of data; it must also ensure that an appropriate unit of data collection is utilised. Secondly, scholars must also take into account the peculiarities of tourism research. Tourism studies often have a marked bias towards quantitative, demand-side research frameworks, and can often have difficulty in constructing representative sampling frames. Finally, since most tourism firms are small-scale enterprises, there are also issues relating to small business research. These include the need to clearly differentiate between the entrepreneur and the small business owner; avoiding survivor bias in the sampling frame; making a clear choice between qualitative and quantitative perspectives; and recognising that there are also substantial size-based differences within small and medium-sized enterprises. This chapter discusses these issues in some detail, but avoids providing prescriptive answers about the 'best' or most appropriate way to deal with them. It is suggested that researchers will ultimately need to make their own evaluations about how best to deal with each of these factors.
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