Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD; Fred J. Galloway, EdD; Lea A. Hubbard, PhD


exploratory sequential mixed methods study, hospitality and tourism industry, innovation, Leadership studies, memories, organizations, qualitative, quantitative, senior managers, unique experiences


In the past 35 years, substantial research has been conducted examining innovation in the business environment. Despite the vast quantity of innovation studies, a large percentage of the contributions are focused on product innovation outputs in manufacturing, while innovation theory in the services industry is still struggling to emerge. The hospitality and tourism industry is one of the largest service industries in the world. In this industry context, innovation is less about producing new things and more about delivering unique experiences to create lasting memories. The purpose of this study was to extend the work already done regarding innovation in business by examining innovation in an understudied context; the goal was to offer a back of the house view of the ways senior managers influence innovation in organizations whose main economic offering is an experience. An exploratory sequential mixed-methods study was conducted in three phases. In Phase One, a short survey was used to identify the ways organizations of a local hospitality and tourism marketplace measure innovation. Concurrent to the quantitative survey, interviews were conducted to identify the ways senior managers influence innovation in their organizations. A conceptual model of leadership for innovation in the experience context was developed from the qualitative data. In Phase Two, the conceptual model was translated into a list of leadership practices, and a composite measure of innovation performance was finalized. Qualitative and quantitative results from the first two phases informed the design of a survey for Phase Three of the study. The survey included eighteen leadership practices intended to measure idea generation, shared understanding, and idea implementation in the experience context. Statistical techniques of principal component analysis and multiple regression analysis were used to validate the conceptual model and measure the relationships among the variables of senior manager influence and innovation performance. This back of the house view of innovation in the experience context offers an updated perspective of innovation in business and a context-specific look at strategic leadership at the business unit level. Findings also provide insights for leaders of organizations faced with providing compelling experiences for increasingly demanding and savvy consumers.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies