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Current PhD students

Lukas Graiff: Innovation out of Crises in Sports Management

Lukas Graiff

This dissertation examines the impact of recent crises on sport management stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, sport providers, event managers and sport tourism stakeholders, and aims to uncover the factors that transform negatively perceived crises into opportunities for positive societal outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic, energy inflation and climate change are forcing these stakeholders to quickly adapt their strategies to a rapidly changing environment. The aim of the dissertation is to investigate how these actors deal with the challenges of crises by examining the innovations they have introduced, their origins and their effectiveness in crisis management. In addition, the dissertation looks at the potential long-term benefits that the forced rapid introduction of innovation can bring to these firms beyond the crisis. It emphasizes a strong link between innovation and entrepreneurship in sport management.

Sabrina Scheiber: Resident support for sports events - The case of Tyrol

Sabrina Scheiber

Events play a crucial role in the development of tourism and have been the subject of extensive scholarly research, particularly in the realm of sports events. The involvement and response of local residents are essential to the successful execution and sustainability of sports events. While existing research predominantly focuses on Major Sports Events (MSEs), there is a strong argument for exploring residents' perceptions of Non-Mega Sport Events (NMSEs). This dissertation aims to improve the understanding of the socio-cultural and event-specific factors that shape resident support in a popular tourism region. Additionally, my studies seek to shed light on potential disparities in the determinants of event support between MSEs and NMSEs.

Lukas Hartleif

Two coexistent phenomena challenge tourism employers: a labor shortage and an upcoming, profound change in work due to artificial intelligence (AI). The lack of labor in tourism can be explained by the poor image of the industry as an employer, among other factors. To improve the image of tourism employment, it is worthwhile to consider employer branding. In the context of an "AI revolution", employer branding will be subject to immense change. Lukas' research focuses on the perception of AI-enabled employer branding. Since AI agents will play a key role in future recruitment, understanding their evaluation by humans is crucial. From a theoretical point of view, the "Language Expectancy Theory" appears to be a potential fit.


Daniela Campana

Daniela's dissertation sits at the intersection of tourism, sustainability, and technology, exploring the potential of technology to persuade tourists to adopt sustainable behavior throughout different travel stages.  From recommending experiences outside the mainstream path to encouraging the use of public transportation or enabling access to local businesses at the destination, digital applications can actively contribute to reducing the negative effects of tourism on the environment and local communities. This research draws on theories of persuasion and behavioural change to design and evaluate technology-based interventions tailored to the tourism context.    It examines how elements of persuasive technology, like personalized feedback, social comparison, and goal setting can positively influence tourists towards adopting sustainable behaviour and ultimately result in enhanced travel experiences.  Following evidence that persuasive technologies can have opposite effects on different groups of people, this study will also evaluate the role of individual differences on the relative impact of different persuasive approaches. 


Musadad Musadad: The Role of Indigenous Community in Sustainable Geotourism Development

Musadad Musadad

My research project focuses on exploring the role and participation of indigenous communities in the context of sustainable geotourism development. It aims to investigate the perceptions and experiences of indigenous people regarding the impacts of geotourism initiatives. Additionally, it seeks to understand how these communities and key 
stakeholders perceive geotourism development, barriers and motivations for indigenous participation, and strategies to mobilize their involvement in sustainable tourism. The study emphasizes the need to recognize and engage indigenous voices, particularly within the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, to ensure more inclusive and beneficial geotourism development while addressing existing gaps in empirical research on indigenous involvement in geotourism activities.


Chen Yang: Exploring street food experiences: An experiencescape approach

Chen Yang

Chen’s research builds upon existing literature on street food and its significance in tourism. Street food has emerged as an integral part of local culture, offering authentic culinary experiences that attract both domestic and international tourists. The vibrant and dynamic environment of street food markets creates a unique "scape" characterized by sensory stimulation, social interactions, and cultural immersion. Previous studies have explored various aspects of street food. However, limited research has focused on understanding the holistic street food experiences and their impacts on tourist behavioral intentions, such as satisfaction, revisit intention, and willingness to recommend. This dissertation aims to investigate the phenomenon of street food experiences and their influence on tourist behavioral intentions, using the concept of experiencescape as a theoretical framework. This dissertation aims to contribute to both academic and practical domains by shedding light on the influence of street food experiences within the tourism context. The findings may provide valuable insights for destination marketers, policymakers, and street food vendors, enabling them to enhance tourists' experiences and maximize the potential benefits of street food tourism.


Cynthia Richter Ojijo: Residents' preferences for infrastructure development in wildlife tourism destinations


The tourism sector in general depends on infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports and electricity, but also on tourism superstructure such as hotels, restaurants, gondolas, golf courses and many others to facilitate a seamless travel itinerary. The development of infrastructure in protected and conserved tourism destinations comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Due to the ever-increasing demand for tourism development, coupled with changes in land use, expansion of agricultural produce and infrastructure development, many wildlife management authorities are often caught between the values, needs and interests of local and conservation-oriented management objectives. My dissertation focuses on examining residents' preference for tourism infrastructure developments and to examine conservation preferences of residents in wildlife tourism destinations. The study aims to reveal locals’ individual perceptions of nature-based destination development and preferences for infrastructure and tourism suprastructure development and conservation in regions that rely heavily on nature-based tourism. The dissertation also adds to the few, but increasing, number of choice experiments (CE) studies realized in emerging economies.

Katharina Pöll: The demand side economics of sustainable summer mountain tourism


Making tourism more sustainable is one of the most prevalent issues in tourism debates at the moment. Mountain regions and their tourism industries are amongst the most vulnerable to climatic and environmental changes. On the supply side, destinations face pressure from governments and NGOs to limit their impact on social life in communities, the global climate, and the local environment.  Still, many sustainability determinants in mountain tourism can be only influenced by tourists themselves. This dissertation wants to contribute to the understanding of demand changes from sustainabele destination features through choice experiments as well as regressions with register data. The former method allowes a closer look at the preferences of individuals for sustainable tourism attributes and unspoiled landscapes. The latter method can shed light on how such features can make destinations not only more more sustainable but also more successful economically.


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


The 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.


Oleksandra Panasiuk: Methodology for Semantic Annotation


This 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


Theresa 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.







Joachim Nigg: Stakeholder collaboration in the development of accessible tourism value chains

Tourism is continuously criticized for its exclusive nature towards people with disabilities. This results from the fact, that the high potential of accessible tourism is still frequently neglected in tourism development. While the widely known term “barrier free tourism” appoints explicitly on people with disabilities as such, “accessible tourism” envisions everyone with or without disabilities to visit their destination of choice an experience social participation. Implementing the “Design for all” approach related to that, stakeholder collaboration is referred to as an essential tool to foster inclusion of people with disabilities in society. However, lack of awareness on requirements of people with disabilities frequently triggers shortcomings in the implementation of accessible tourism. To conquer such discrimination of people with disabilities, existing literature highlights the importance of collaborative identities towards this target group. Assuming this, the PhD thesis of Joachim Nigg concentrates on collaboration patterns towards accessible tourism value chains with regard to social- versus self-identities of people with disabilities.

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

The 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.

Elisabeth Feilhauer: Individual and social preferences and their influence on the choice of a mixed set of public and private goods

A public referendum is a commonly used tool to gain residents‘ opinions on whether cities should host the Olympic Games. Especially since the 2000s, various initiatives to apply for mega-sport events have had significant problems obtaining public support, and most Olympic referenda were rejected. Referring to the Austrian state of Tyrol, which has a remarkable Olympic tradition but experienced decreasing residents‘ support for the Olympics, the research projects aim to provide deeper insights into the locals‘ expectations for mega-sports events. Using well-established empirical methods that have not yet been used to analyze residents‘ preferences on mega-sports events, the work aims to provide relevant information on how the Olympic Games could meet the heterogeneous demands of the locals and retrieve public support.

Bernhard Bichler: Tracing tourism development: A multilevel stakeholder approach

The 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.

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).

Tanja Petry: Attracting and retaining employees in service organizations

Tanja’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.

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.

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

The 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.

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

The 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.

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

The 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.

Elias Kärle: Annotation based Linked Data Publication and Consumption

The 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

The 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

The 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

With 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.

Ulrich Egger: Managing Work Mobilities in the Service Industry

The 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

The 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.




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