“I would like to see a world where there is less competition and more people working in collaboration to guarantee more impactful outcomes. It’s good for business- but it’s good for the soul, too!” ~ Rachel Perkins
Ms Rachel Perkins, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate from the Department of Tourism Sport and Hotel Management and The Centre for Sustainable Enterprise in Griffith Business School. Ms Perkins is the 2019 Griffith Business School Winner of the 3-Minute Thesis competition and she is currently focussed on her PhD research, ‘Business clustering as a destination branding tool for regional small tourism firms’, which is about tourism business sustainability and how these small businesses form clusters and relationships to survive and contribute to destination brands in rural and regional locations.
1. What is your PhD about and what was the catalyst or inspiration for your interest in this field of research?
I was born and raised in Stanthorpe, which is a tiny town in South-East Queensland, Australia. It wasn’t until I studied by Bachelor of Business that I started to think about how the businesses in my small town were affected due to their regionality. After travelling to other rural and regional destinations around the world, I had a curiosity for how small tourism businesses survived in rural and regional locations. I began to unpack some of the complexities that these businesses faced, like seasonality, severe weather conditions, limited access to funding, competition and mistrust between businesses and the public sector, and limited time, resources, and expertise. With a mission to improve the success and long-term sustainability of these tourism businesses, I sought to improve the collaborative relationships between businesses to encourage shared knowledge and resources, and a community of passion and support. This collaboration took the format of a tourism business cluster, with the overarching goal to contribute to the destination brand of the region. I hope that my research enables other rural and regional destinations to formalise their collaborative efforts for increased success.
2. What was the key issue or problem identified in your research degree thesis and how far into the thesis are you?
I am two years into my PhD program and have just completed my data collection. The major issue that I was trying to resolve, was to figure out how to actually form a tourism business cluster (or other form of organised collaboration) in a region where one did not already exist. The literature frequently reported how beneficial collaboration (and particularly, business clustering) was for destination branding, but failed to address how I could establish one in a region if it did not already pre-exist. This was my overarching research aim.
3. What are the most important questions or areas of investigation in your research degree and have any gaps been identified?
The overarching research aim was to figure out how to form a tourism business cluster in a region where it did not already exist. Once I began investigating this, it was evident that stakeholder relationships and stakeholder typology were incredibly impactful on collaborative arrangements, so these were closely investigated.
4. What is the ultimate aim or your ‘personal why’ for doing this research degree? What big picture are you hoping to eventually achieve?
After travelling to rural and regional destinations around the world, I had a curiosity for how small tourism businesses survived in rural and regional locations like my hometown, Stanthorpe. With a mission to improve the success and long-term sustainability of these tourism businesses, I sought to improve the collaborative relationships between businesses to encourage shared knowledge and resources, and a community of passion and support.
5. Are you currently working on any funded research and if yes, what is the project about and what is your involvement/tasks?
No, but I enjoy working in the Centre for Sustainable Enterprise at Griffith and I find their area of research inspirational. In my role, I assisted and launched the SDG Explorer page that showcases Griffith Business School academics whose research advances the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The Explorer serves as a platform for the university community and wider public to search for projects that relate to, contribute towards or advance research in the area of each UN Sustainable Development Goal.
6. Why did you choose Griffith University for your research degree?
I originally began my studies at Griffith University for my Bachelor of Business with a Double Major in Event Management and Marketing. I loved my undergraduate degree, and felt that Griffith offered a family away from home. I joined the Griffith Business School Student Leadership Program, to which I am still part of to this day, and this offered me the opportunities to volunteer many hours of service to both the university and the wider community. It also allowed me to volunteer overseas in Nepal, India, and Borneo. After succeeding in my Bachelor, I was offered a place in the Honours Program, where I met my wonderful supervisors, Dr. Catheryn Khoo-Lattimore and Professor Charles Arcodia. I received First Class Honours for my research project that investigated challenges to collaboration within regional small tourism businesses.