Publication Details

Dolnicar, S, Accepted standards undermining the validity of tourism research, in Woodside, A (ed.) Advances in Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, volume 1, 2007, Emerald Group, 131-182.


This paper draws attention to accepted measurement and research method standards in empirical research on tourism. Some standards stand out because they are superior to alternative approaches. However, many have emerged because the measurements and methods used in prior work were assumed to be optimal (or at least valid) for solving particular problems. Unfortunately this assumption is inaccurate. Yet the reviewing process favors the use of such standards (often without demanding evidence) over the introduction of novel approaches, even if these are justified. This paper focuses on three accepted standards in empirical tourism research which have the potential to undermine the validity of findings: the uncritical use of ordinal multi-category answer formats, the derivation of cross-cultural comparisons that do not consider cultural response biases resulting from response styles, and the standard step-wise procedure used in data-driven market segmentation. This paper describes the potential dangers of these standard approaches and makes recommendations for researchers to consider before choosing to adopt any of the above approaches.

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