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Current PhD students

Eva Posch: Re-thinking resilience at the interface of natural hazards and tourism: An agency-centred perspective

EvaPoschThe overall aim of my PhD thesis is to enhance the understanding of tourism actors’ resilience to natural hazards in remote mountain regions in the Global South. My research introduces an agency-centred perspective on resilience to natural hazards thus challenging classical approaches to ‘measure resilience’ and its focus on benchmarking. Building on concepts from the disaster-risk and social-ecological system literature, I analyse the logic of existing agency arrangements in two case study regions in Nepal. I argue that local actors’ ability and willingness to cope, adapt and transform in the face of natural hazards is influenced by external factors as well as individual goals and trade-offs which are rooted in cultural worldviews, values and beliefs. Literature analysis and stakeholder interviews form the basis for quantitative surveys in the two research areas. The PhD thesis is part of a project funded by the Austrian Academy of Science [more...].

Robert Eller: Adoption of digital technologies


The PhD thesis of Robert Eller deals with the adoption of digital technologies on small medium sized enterprises (SME) and the corresponding impact on the business model. Digital technologies, such as Big Data, analytic tools, KI and online platforms change the economy and organizations. Several studies, qualitative and quantitative, explore the effects and relations of digital transformation behaviour of SME and the various effects caused by adoption of digital technologies. The data and analysis will provide a holistic insight into small medium sized enterprises and contribute to a deeper understanding of how digital technologies can provide a competitive advantage for SME.


Elisabeth Happ: Sport Business in Alpine Tourism Destinations – Analysing Factors of Competitiveness

ElisabethHappThe PhD thesis of Elisabeth Happ deals with location decision criteria of the sport industry in the Alps. While location decision criteria have been analysed a lot, there is a need to investigate soft factors influencing the decision-making process and do research on specific branches and geographic areas. In contrast to existing studies, this study provides holistic insights in factors influencing the location decision-making process of business to business sports industry companies, considering the hypothesis that sport is both commercially special and culturally unique. The Alps are a preferred location for companies in the sports industry offering winter sport and outdoor equipment. The Alps cannot score with cheap real estate, perfect transportation
connection, and inexpensive labour costs, but obviously, other reasons explain why they are such attractive locations for companies in the sports industry. The findings contribute to the sport management literature by adding specific factors influencing location decision making in the sports industry and provide a new framework for management decisions.

Filippo Bazzanella: Sporting events as leverage for tourism destinations' development

Filippo_BazanellaThe research objective is to analyze the distinctive elements of sporting events (with a focus on small-scale sporting events) that create real benefits for tourism destinations. In the last few years hosting major sports events is not always an unequivocal economic benefit for host cities. Overall impact measurement has become a focus in research and management, including policy makers and sporting officials. This PhD thesis addresses several important questions: Is there an empirical method for assessing the full impact (economic, social and environmental) of a sporting event? What is the immediate and long-term effect on the hosting territory? Is it possible to assess in advance the legacy of an event to be able to plan a bidding process and a long term strategy? Ultimately, the work also analyses whether and which programming tools are used in the preparation of major sporting events.

Bernhard Bichler: Tracing tourism development: A multilevel stakeholder approach

BichlerBernhardThe PhD thesis of Bernhard Bichler combines actor-centered approaches and governance perspectives to shed more light on tourism development. It aims to provide a comprehensive picture of tourism destinations and deepens the knowledge on the layers of entrepreneurs, stakeholders and policy makers. Actor-centered approaches highlight for example quality of life as a decisive element that relates to entrepreneurship and destination development. Research findings show that destinations can be understood as complex systems, determined by several framework and systemic conditions. In this context, destinations demand direction and steering through governance actions. This PhD thesis will improve the theoretical embeddedness and provides practical implications for tourism destinations. ORCID

Oleksandra Panasiuk: Methodology for Semantic Annotation

OleksandraPanasiukThis PhD thesis aims to make the semantic annotation process more approachable, easy and consistent, improve the use of semantic vocabularies (especially and tailor them to specific needs in different application scenarios, as well as providing a higher quantity and quality of structured data.  My research is based on providing domain specifications, as design patterns for semantic annotation of data, with a focus on the tourism domain, and developing tools for creating and validating semantic annotations. It will give a possibility to provide complete and correct structure data, increase the online visibility of web resource and make the web content understandable to different automated agents (e.g. search engines, chatbots or personal assistant systems).

 Theresa Leitner: The relevance of alpine pastures for tourism & leisure: A place attachment approach

TheresaLeitnerTheresa Leitner’s dissertation sets out to investigate the relevance of “alpine pastures” (Almen) for the tourism and leisure industry in alpine regions. Environmental factors, landscape and nature are considered core assets of most types of tourism and particularly in rural tourism destinations. In context of alpine tourism, various studies indicate that the characteristic landscape and architectural features of alpine pastures play an essential role in satisfying the aesthetic expectations of tourists. However, those landscape preferences have not been investigated in a holistic way yet, taking the bond people have with alpine pastures into consideration. Applying a place attachment approach, this thesis addresses the question “what makes people feel attached to alpine pastures?” and therefore focuses on identifying physical as well as intangible features that influence the emotional relationship tourists and locals form with this characteristic place.

Tanja Petry: Attracting and retaining employees in service organizations

Petry TanjaTanja’s PhD projects in the area of human resource management (HRM) address questions surrounding employer attractiveness and employee retention in service organizations. Against the background of a growing employee shortage in the service industry, the aim of her thesis is to advance the understanding of sustainable human resource management practices in customer-centered workplaces. Current tourism-related research projects focus on the professionalization of HRM practices in small and medium sized enterprises and include topics such as newcomer socialization, innovative employee benefits and the organizational acculturation of seasonal migrant workers.

Ulrich Egger: Managing Work Mobilities in the Service Industry

Ulrich EggerThe PhD thesis of Ulrich Egger addresses current issues in the area of human resource management (HRM) within the hospitality industry. The insufficient professionalization of HRM practices is one reason for the growing employee shortage in the sector. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to create a deeper understanding for sustainable HR practices. Furthermore, it aims to provide managerial implications to design such practices effectively. Thus, this research focuses on organizations as well as on (potential) employees. Current projects deal with the organizational acculturation of seasonal migrant workers, newcomer socialization, employee retention and loyalty, employer attractiveness, and innovative employee benefits.

Serena Lonardi: Minority language revitalization through tourism

SerenaLonardiThe PhD thesis of Serena Lonardi analyzes the role of tourism in minority language revitalization. Languages are one of the main elements that best define the cultural identity of a population because they stand for a unique view of the world. This is especially true for minority languages that could thus represent an asset for the destination. However, they are often endangered by an official or more prestigious language. This project will mainly consider three minority communities in North-Eastern Italy, which have been neglected by the literature so far (Ladin, Mòcheno, Cimbrian). Through an ethnographic approach, it will study how those languages are currently used in the tourism field and, secondly, if and to what extent tourism can contribute to creating a virtuous circle of language revitalization.


Sarah Eichelberger: Tourism sustainability – The creation of places for people to live in and for people to visit

SarahEichelbergerThe PhD thesis of Sarah Eichelberger concentrates on responsible and sustainable tourism, with the common goal of balancing the effects of tourism. Furthermore, the development of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), to Destination Social Responsibility (DSR), is shown. In this context, her dissertation examines the sustainability of tourism in terms of sustainable tourism as a concept, with agendas and environmental policies, CSR as sustainability facilitation at the micro level of enterprises, as well as DSR, in order to enable a multi-stakeholder perspective. Responsible tourism is examined as an actual application of sustainability with the change of attitudes and behaviour. This work will contribute to the tourism literature and provide implications for tourism destinations.


Ruoyuan Wang: Digital and mobile payment application and adoption in digital tourism

YuanWangThe PhD thesis of Ruoyuan Wang focuses on digital payment, specifically mobile payment in digital tourism, which addresses the acceptance of mobile payment from the perspective of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) as well as from the perspective of tourists. The aim of this thesis is to understanding the factors that influence the acceptance of mobile payment for both MSMEs and tourists. Culture, mobility and convenience are taken as a starting point to separate tourists from normal consumers. Furthermore, it aims to provide managerial implications to suppliers (e.g., SMTEs and technical designers) and for destination management organisations (DMOs). Current projects focus on cross-cultural and cross-border tourists and local SMTEs.

Klaus-Peter Fritz: The creation of authentic dining experiences in restaurants with particular focus on the narrative framing of menus


The PhD thesis of Klaus Fritz discusses the creation of authentic dining experiences in restaurants with particular focus on the narrative framing of menus. Austria's rich culinary history and food traditions as well as a wide range of agricultural products provide the perfect setting for food related narratives, stories and guest experiences. The main research question is how different stakeholders (chefs and restaurateurs, farmers, local visitors and tourists) perceive Austria’s food culture and how narratives and stories shape the creation of authentic dining experiences in restaurants (qualitative approach).  On the other hand, the influence of food-related narratives on consumer activities such as customer satisfaction, spending behaviour, food choice, food tasting, post-purchase intention, positive word-of-mouth and memorability is also analysed (quantitative approach).

Alumni and former members

Elias Kärle: Annotation based Linked Data Publication and Consumption

EliasKaerleThe amount of data on the internet in general, and the web in specific, is growing crazily. Publishing data as Linked Data will be the only way to maintain scalability of systems consuming this data. However, publishing fast changing dynamic content as Linked Data on the web in a scalable manner is not trivial. So far, the only approaches describe publishing all available data, which then leads to problems, like server capacity overload, network latency or unwanted knowledge disclosure. With this PhD thesis, Elias Kärle presents ways to publish dynamic content in a scalable, meaningful, Linked Data manner by applying context-dependent publication heuristics. The outcome shows that the application of the right publication heuristics in the right domain can improve the publication performance significantly. Comprehensive knowledge about the domain helps choosing the right publication heuristic and hence leads to satisfying publication results.


Philipp Schlemmer: Sports tourism in alpine tourism destinations

PhilippSchlemmerThe PhD thesis of Philipp Schlemmer deals with the development of alpine tourism destinations in Tyrol and more specifically the development of sport in alpine regions. Therefore surveys shall be conducted, exploring the various effects of physical activities in holidays on subjective wellbeing, its long-term effects, customer experience and satisfaction. Philipp analyzes the mobility of tourists in a holiday region versus the mobility in daily routine and its conjunction to health relevant aspects as well as determining physical activities as major drivers in holiday decision-making. Hence, the data will provide holistic insights to describe the importance of physical activities in tourism but also to constitute a platform for further product development.



Bartosz Bursa: Modeling the intra-destination travel behavior of tourists

BartoszBursaThe focus of my research lies on modeling the on-site travel behavior of visitors during their vacation stays. The necessary data is provided by a revealed preference survey in form of an activity-travel diary and complemented by land-use and historical weather data. I put a particular interest on joint travel and activity participation decisions within families and tourist groups as well as on the influence of weather, which have all not been recognized in the literature so far. With the use of Discrete Choice Analysis, I am working on identifying the relationships between various choice determinants (attributes of the alternatives as well as characteristics of the decision-makers) and decisions about destination, transport mode, activity types, time allocation and expenditures on travel among vacationers.


Johanna Zanon: Signs of Sustainability: The role and relevance of sustainability for consumers and entrepreneurs in (family) SMEs

JohannaZanonWith her PhD Johanna combines research on sustainability, marketing, tourism, consumer and family firm to shed further light on sustainable operation and consumption. Her main interest lies in understanding why tourism firms, especially family firms, adopt and maintain sustainable business operations and how consumers respond to the communication thereof. With using an mainly experimental research approach her PhD projects on the one hand examine which trade-offs tourism family firms are willing to make in order to adopt sustainable business practices; on the other hand different marketing stimuli are used to assess the effectiveness of sustainability communication to stir pro-sustainable consumer behaviour. Being at the end of her PhD her Articles are amongst others published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism and Journal of Family Business Strategy.

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