Social entrepreneurship in tourism: applying sustainable livelihoods approaches

G. Laeis, Stefanie Lemke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
581 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Social entrepreneurs (SEs) in tourism are regarded as drivers for linking destination communities with enterprises, aiming to create economic benefits and livelihoods. This paper investigates whether the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) enables an analysis of the complex interrelations and interdependencies between SEs, destination communities’ livelihood assets, and related transforming structures and processes. Design/methodology/approach: Data was gathered through participatory action research at a tourism lodge and its foundation, which facilitated agricultural training, and by conducting in-depth interviews with ten key stakeholders. The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF) served as the theoretical framework. Findings: The SLA enables an analysis of interrelations and interdependencies between various stakeholders and to visualise the way SEs forge the impacts tourism has on livelihoods. The agricultural project did not reach its full potential due to, amongst other factors, competing aims between the profit and non-profit business, resulting in the lack of a clear vision and strategy. Additional challenges were dependency on external funding and a lack of reciprocal communication between the stakeholders involved. Research limitations/implications: This research is based on one case study and findings cannot be generalised. Future studies should develop the SLF further, possibly through adaptation and integration of other tools. Practical implications: The SLF enables researchers to integrate local knowledge and participatory research methods, thus facilitating engagement and learning between different stakeholders. Originality/value: Through empirical research, this paper adds valuable insights into the applicability of the SLF in the context of social entrepreneurship in tourism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1093
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number6
Early online date13 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Sustainable livelihoods
  • social entrepreneurship
  • tourism
  • rural development
  • participatory action research
  • local food systems
  • sustainability
  • South Africa
  • capacity building
  • hospitality management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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