Journal of Sustainable TourismVol. 19, No. 2, March 2011, 171–196The diffusion of environmental sustainability innovations...
172     K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                   innovation process and utilized DIT (e.g. Le et al....
Journal of Sustainable Tourism        173hotel/resort companies include Accor, Fairmont, Hilton, Kimpton, Marriot and Taj ...
174      K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                    ski resorts, specifically incorporating elements o...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism        175“environmental management system” (EMS; Damanpour, 1991; Hitchcock & Willard,2006...
176      K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                             .A.less hindered by the other reported barriers, sugges...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism           177and decision-making processes (Higa, Sheng, Hu, & Au, 1997). Rogers (2003) exp...
178      K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                             .A.Alphen, van Hekkert, & Sark, 2006). Chan and Ho (200...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism           179   (H6 ) The perceived resort innovativeness is positively correlated with the...
180      K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                             .A.Table 1. Sustainability innovations indices.Sustaina...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism    181Table 1. Sustainability innovations indices. (Continued)Guestroom sustainability (α =...
Table 3. DIT indices factor analysis.                                                                                     ...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism        183Sustainability innovationsThe environmental sustainability innovation measure (α ...
184      K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                             .A.Environmental opinion leadershipKing, Summers and Ch...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism        185    Hypothesis 4, which posited that “the degree to which a resort can try enviro...
186Table 4. Correlation matrix of DIT scales.                                                                            C...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism        187innovations increases risks of lost revenue, time and resources. As sustainabilit...
188     K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                            .A.Orfila-Sintes & Mattsson, 2009), there has been limited...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism        189the adoption of some sustainability innovations, indicating that sustainability m...
190     K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                            .A.    Leadership and management research in resort susta...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism           191Notes on contributorsKarl R. Smerecnik recently earned his MA in communication...
192      K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                             .A.DeCanio, S.J., Dibble, C., & Amir-Atefi, K. (2000). T...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism           193Hitchcock, D., & Willard, M. (2006). The business guide to sustainability: Pra...
194      K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen                             .A.Le, Y., Hollenhorst, S., Harris, C.C., McLaughlin, W...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism           195Rogers, E.M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York, NY: Free Pr...
The diffusion of environmental sustainability innovations in north american hotels and ski resorts
The diffusion of environmental sustainability innovations in north american hotels and ski resorts
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The diffusion of environmental sustainability innovations in north american hotels and ski resorts

  1. 1. Journal of Sustainable TourismVol. 19, No. 2, March 2011, 171–196The diffusion of environmental sustainability innovations in NorthAmerican hotels and ski resortsKarl R. Smerecnik∗ and Peter A. AndersenSchool of Communication, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA(Received 4 September 2009; final version received 1 August 2010) This study examines the diffusion of environmental sustainability innovations in North American hotels and ski resorts. It seeks to understand what sustainability innovations are being adopted and the variables affecting the rate of adoption. An electronic survey was distributed to 49 medium/large hotels and ski resorts. Rogers’ diffusion of inno- vations theory was utilized to hypothesize that a hotel/resort manager’s perceptions of sustainability would correlate with the adoption of the innovations. Over 4000 pub- lished studies have used diffusion of innovations theory to examine the innovation in mass media, public health, sociology, communication and agriculture. Results from this study revealed that the perceived simplicity of sustainability innovations and high levels of opinion leadership of hotels/resorts were most strongly associated with the adoption of sustainability innovations. The perceived relative advantage of sustainability innova- tions and the general innovativeness of the hotels/resorts also correlated to some extent with the adoption of innovations leading to increased sustainability. Sustainability com- munication must emphasize simplicity and ease of adopting sustainability innovations to increase the rate of adoption. The findings provide useful theoretical knowledge and advice for change agents, opinion leaders and suppliers in the resort industry on how to further diffuse sustainability in the sector. Keywords: sustainable tourism; sustainable development; diffusion of innovations; tourism management; hotel; ski resortIntroductionConcern for environmental sustainability is increasing globally (Dunlap, Gallup, & Gallup,1993; Pew Research Center, 2007). The predominant paradigm of development throughthe conquering of nature is being replaced by human interdependence with the ecosphere(Hawken, 1993; McDonough & Braungart, 2002; Schmidheiny, 1992). Businesses playa key role in creating a more sustainable future through transforming their products andservices to offer consumers options for a more sustainable lifestyle. This study investigatesthis transformation occurring in the North American hotel and ski resort industries throughtheir adoption of sustainability innovations. Rogers’ (2003) diffusion of innovations theory(DIT), a leading model for understanding the adoption of sustainability innovations, hasbeen the basis of thousands of studies worldwide in mass media, public health, sociology,communication and agriculture. This study uses DIT to examine four characteristics ofsuccessful innovations and two characteristics of successful innovation adopters that havebeen highly predictive in prior studies to investigate the diffusion of sustainability in theresort industry. Few earlier studies have investigated sustainability in the resort industry as∗ Corresponding author. Email: smerecnik@gmail.comISSN 0966-9582 print / ISSN 1747-7646 online C 2011 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/09669582.2010.517316
  2. 2. 172 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen innovation process and utilized DIT (e.g. Le et al., 2006). This study contributes newinsight into an under-researched field.The context of sustainabilityAccording to the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987, Chapter2), “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present withoutcompromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (see also Schubert& L´ ng, 2005). The 1992 Rio Earth Summit and the World Business Council for Sustain- aable Development articulated the ideology of eco-efficiency as the core of sustainability(DeSimone & Popoff, 1997; Holliday, Schmidheiny, & Watts, 2002; Schmidheiny, 1992;World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 1996). Though definitions vary,most scholars agree that sustainability is founded on decreasing environmental impact,closing the consumption cycle to eliminate wasteful outputs and decreasing unnecessaryinputs (Epstein, 1996; McDonough & Braungart, 2002). Since businesses play a leading role in the global economy through the productionof goods and services, their involvement is integral to increasing sustainability and tocommunicating its value. Andriate and Fink (2008) explain that, increasingly, “businessenterprises have discovered that competitive advantages may be captured by measuringsuccess in terms of the triple bottom line (TBL): social equity, ecological integrity, andfinancial profitability” (p. 118). Leaders of companies are realizing that if the naturalresources upon which they depend become depleted, ecological and financial stability willbe disrupted (Hawken, Lovins, & Lovins, 1999). This study focuses on sustainability in hotels and ski resorts because companiesin these industries are responding to the demands of environmentally conscious stake-holders, a planet in ecological crisis and the risks of litigation and regulation and are alsoattempting to maintain profitability and market growth (Edwards, 2005; Freeman, Pierce,& Dodd, 2000; Hitchcock & Willard, 2006). Resorts occupy an innovative demographicin the for-profit sector (Orfila-Sintes, Crespi-Cladera, & Martinez-Ros, 2005) and show atrend of increased adoption of sustainability initiatives (Honey, 2008; International Busi-ness Leaders Forum, 2007). Hotels and resorts create a significant environmental impactand must take a more proactive approach to reducing it (Becken, Frampton, & Simmons,2001; Brown, 1996). Within the tourism industry, hotels and resorts require the greatestamount of energy (Bohdanowicz, 2005). Sustainability is therefore necessarily not onlyfor the betterment of the natural environment but also for maintaining competitive hotelperformance; Erdogan and Baris (2007) explain, “[S]ome [hotel] managers now under-stand that long-term economic sustainability and growth depend upon the nature of theirenvironmental policies” (p. 604).Resort sustainabilityIn addition to the previously mentioned reasons for adopting sustainability innovations,the hospitality sector also faces pressure from consumer demands, government regulationsand environmental organizations (Erdogan & Baris, 2007; Goodman, 2000). As a result,hotels and ski resorts are adopting environmental sustainability innovations such as min-imizing their use of energy, water and nondurable products and minimizing waste andgreenhouse gas emissions (Erdogan & Baris, 2007; Honey, 2008; Trung & Kumar, 2005).Many hotel chains recognize the advantages of reducing their environmental impact throughnew environmental policies and initiatives; some of the more sustainable medium-to-large
  3. 3. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 173hotel/resort companies include Accor, Fairmont, Hilton, Kimpton, Marriot and Taj (Houdr´ , e2008). Scandic Hotels in Scandinavia may be one of the most progressive examples of ahotel chain that has holistically integrated sustainability into its core values and practices;their Omtanke corporate social responsibility (CSR) program created a number of positiveresults for the company, one of which was an increase in satisfaction among managers,employees and customers (Bohdanowicz & Zientara, 2008; Goodman, 2000). There is inconclusive evidence for how proactive environmental initiatives impactoverall resort performance. Some literature reveals the positive impact of sustainabilityon customer satisfaction and loyalty, which is believed to improve overall resort per-formance (Kassinis & Soteriou, 2003), but other research has found no conclusive evi-dence of a correlation with performance (Claver-Cort´ s, Molina-Azor´n, Pereira-Moliner, & e ıL´ pez-Gamero, 2007). Some limited data reveal correlations between resort demographics oand adoption of environmental policies (Deng, Ryan, & Moutinho, 1992; Kirk, 1998; Le,Hollenhorst, Harris, McLaughlin, & Shook, 2006; Tzschentke, Kirk, & Lynch, 2008).Larger hotels tend to implement more strategic environmental management practices(L´ pez-Gamero, Claver-Cort´ s, & Molina-Azor´n, 2008; Mensah, 2006), while the personal o e ıvalues and beliefs of managers in small hotel operations were predictors of sustainabilityadoption (Tzschentke et al., 2008). A significant difference was observed between chain-owned hotels and independent hotels, the latter relying on managers to introduce sustainabil-ity, while the former have more strategic environmental policies and values (LIFE, 2001). The ski resort industry is an important sector to examine within the overall tourismindustry because ski resorts both create significant environmental impacts and are depen-dent on the natural environment to maintain profitability (World Tourism Organizationand United Nations Environment Programme, 2008). Pickering, Harrington and Worboys(2003) explain, “Ski resorts are an intensive form of tourism development in mountainareas resulting in clearing; road construction; slope grooming; provision of utility services(water, sewage treatment, power supplies); accommodation services; and other tourism in-frastructure” (p. 249). In addition to the impact on the physical environment, climate changeis affecting much of the industry, as a number of studies have found decreased snowfalland warmer winters (Moen & Fredman, 2007; Nolin & Daly, 2006; Whetton, Haylock, &Galloway, 1996). As ski resorts realize the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emis-sions and responding to environmentally conscious stakeholders, many are improving theirenvironmental policies. Hudson (1995) envisions a sustainable ski resort to be “committedto developing in only such ways as will protect and sustain the resort’s natural assets forfuture generations” (p. 185). Though it is arguable that hotel and ski resorts are somewhatdifferent industries, this study primarily focuses on the lodging and hospitality aspects ofthe ski industry. Over 75% of US ski resorts signed the Sustainable Slopes Charter in 2000 that cre-ated guidelines for improved environmental performance, including reforms in planningand design, water use, energy, waste reduction, natural habitat management, education andoutreach (Hudson, 2006; National Ski Areas Association, 2005, 2008). Customer demandfor these environmental considerations is apparent from the existence of such organizationsas the Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition, specifically with the organization’s creation of the SkiArea Environmental Scorecard (Hudson, 2006; Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition, 2008). Research shows that ski resorts that are more innovative tend to be more environmentallyproactive (Sharma, Arag´ n-Correa, & Rueda-Manzanares, 2007) and that the effects of oclimate change will create competitive advantage for resorts that naturally receive moresnowfall and will require improved snowmaking infrastructures for others (Scott, McBoyle,Minogue, & Mills, 2006). One study created a model for improved strategic performance
  4. 4. 174 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen ski resorts, specifically incorporating elements of sustainability supported by the WorldTourism Organization (Flagestad & Hope, 2001), but other research has found that thevoluntary adoption of the Sustainable Slopes program, created by US National Ski AreaAssociation, did little to improve ski resorts’ environmental performance (Rivera & deLeon, 2004; Rivera, de Leon, & Koerber, 2006). Further research is required to explainwhich factors influence the adoption of environmental policies in the ski resort industry(Sharma et al., 2007).Diffusion of innovations theory and resort sustainabilityDIT defines an innovation as an “idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by anindividual or other unit of adoption” (Rogers, 2003, p. 7) and is highly predictive of theadoption of new innovations by individuals and organizations. As mentioned earlier, DIThas been widely utilized internationally in various disciplines, with over 30 nations usingDIT as a primary theory of development and with approximately 4000 published studiesemploying the theory (Rogers, 1995). As sustainability is spreading throughout numerousindustries (Esty & Winston, 2009), DIT offers a highly appropriate approach for examiningthe adoption of resort sustainability. When resorts seek to implement new environmental policies, practices or products,regardless of their various motivations (Bansal & Roth, 2000), they are introducing asustainability innovation. How companies perceive the concept of sustainability and its valueand adopt the innovation is a complex process involving numerous facets of communication(Berkhout & Rowlands, 2007; Dunphy, Griffiths, & Benn, 2003; Vasi, 2006) and can beexplained through DIT. Damanpour (1991) explains that innovations in a corporate contextcan be “a new product or service, a new production process technology, a new structureor administrative system, or a new plan or program pertaining to organizational members”(p. 556). Rogers (2003) contends that adopting an innovation is based on five characteristicsof the innovation: relative advantage, compatibility, simplicity (though Rogers terms it theinverse “complexity”), trialability and observability. Rogers has found that between 49%and 87% of variance in adoption is explained by these five attributes. This study proposes that relative advantage, compatibility, simplicity and trialability (allinnovation characteristics), as well as opinion leadership and innovativeness (both adoptercharacteristics), affect the voluntary adoption of sustainability innovations in resorts. Sincethe immediate effects of sustainability, such as decreased electricity or water use, are oftennot physically visible, observability may be a less appropriate characteristic to addressin this study. Most diffusion studies, especially related to sustainability, have focused onan innovation being adopted by individuals in the context of a society, region or culture(e.g. McEachern & Hanson, 2008). Studies on sustainability innovations have primarilyinvestigated such topics as diffusion of environmental sustainability policies (Bergstr¨ m o& Dobers, 2000; Foxon & Pearson, 2008; Kern, J¨ rgens, & J¨ nicke, 2001; Tsoutsos & o aStamboulis, 2005), sustainability innovations adopted in geographical regions (Geltz, 2008;McEachern, & Hanson, 2008; Vasi, 2006, 2007) and consumer adoption of sustainabilityinnovations (Labay & Kinnear, 1981). Studies have not systematically investigated thediffusion of sustainability innovations in the resort industry. Only one diffusion studyinvestigated the influences that impact resort managers’ intention to adopt environmentallyfriendly practices in Vietnamese hotels (Le et al., 2006) and found that the characteristicsof innovations were the strongest predictor of the intention to adopt. The most important sustainability innovation in a resort’s organizational structureis the adoption of an environmental strategy and management plan, often termed an
  5. 5. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 175“environmental management system” (EMS; Damanpour, 1991; Hitchcock & Willard,2006). An EMS incorporates elements of formal environmental policies, impact assess-ments, environmental performance indicators, eco-labels, strategic objectives, planning formonitoring environmental progress and ongoing management reviews (L´ pez-Fern´ ndez & o aSerrano-Bedia, 2007; Prakash & Potoski, 2006). Because of the complexity of integrating anEMS, especially in resorts with minimal understanding of its environmental impact, manycompanies rely on international standards. This adds credibility to the management system,increases the capacity of management control, allows for transparency, meets consumerdemands and protects multinational companies from criticisms of their global operations(Brunsson & Jacobsson, 2000; Casades´ s, Marimon, & Heras, 2008; Jiang & Bansal, 2003; uPrakash & Potoski, 2006).Characteristics of innovationsNumerous diffusion studies show that successful adoption of innovations can be predictedfrom the perceived innovation characteristics of relative advantage, compatibility, simplic-ity and trialability (Rogers, 2003). Though it has not been widely used in sustainabilityinnovations, DIT has been used to explain the spread of organic farming (Padel, 2002),sustainable prevention innovations (Johnson, Hays, & Daley, 2004) and renewable energytechnologies (Tsoutsos & Stamboulis, 2005). The current study was conducted because fewstudies have yet to test these important diffusion variables in the context of environmentalsustainability at resorts (e.g. Le et al., 2006).Relative advantageAdoption of sustainability innovations at resorts may provide a number of perceived benefitsor relative advantages, defined as “the degree to which an innovation is perceived as beingbetter than the idea it supersedes” (Rogers, 2003, p. 229). Relative advantage has been thebest predictor of the rate of adoption of an innovation. This is also called the business case,where return on investment is considered before adopting an innovation (Reinhardt, 2007).Scholars illustrate the business case for sustainability in terms of competitive advantagesthat sustainability can bring, such as easier hiring of the best talent; increased employeeproductivity, satisfaction and retention; reduced cost of manufacturing, commercial sitesand facilities; increased revenue and market share; improved public image and customersatisfaction; and reduced risk, improved relationships with regulators and easier financ-ing (Bansal & Roth, 2000; Dunphy et al., 2003; Esty & Winston, 2009; Freeman et al.,2000; Hoffman, 2007; Molina-Azor´n, Claver-Cort´ s, Pereira-Moliner, & Jos´ Tar´, 2009; ı e e ıShrivastava, 1996; Willard, 2002). Hudson (1995) echoes these same advantages in the skiresort industry with his case study of sustainability at the Verbier resort in the Swiss cantonVallis. Despite a resort’s “green” intentions, many sustainability innovations, such as improvedefficiency, waste reduction, renewable energy and improved product design also have a directlink to cost savings (Hitchcock & Willard, 2006), and relative advantage is often expressedin economic profitability (Esty & Winston, 2009; Feiertag, 1994; Rogers, 2003). In a studyof the hotel sector in Spain, proactive environmental initiatives were positively correlatedwith overall hotel performance (Molina-Azor´n et al., 2009). But many hotels are primarily ıconcerned with the upfront costs of being more sustainable; one study reported that theprimary barrier to adopting an EMS for hotels was the perceived cost of implementationand maintenance (Chan, 2008). However, hotels that already implemented an EMS were
  6. 6. 176 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen .A.less hindered by the other reported barriers, suggesting that “hotels may likely experiencethe benefits once they have adopted and implemented the [environmental management]system despite the operational costs” (Chan, 2008, p. 194). A significant component of profitability lies in appealing to market demand and main-taining customer loyalty. Hilton Hotels in Europe adopted a number of sustainability innova-tions that led to $9 million in savings over two years and gave them competitive advantage forenvironmentally conscious customers (Griffiths, 2008). In regard to corporations in general,consumers prefer to purchase environmentally sustainable products (Hitchcock & Willard,2006; PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2007); one survey found that 53% of consumers prefer topurchase products from companies that are environmentally sustainable (Tandberg, 2007).Environmentally sustainable companies hold greater consumer loyalty and can access anumber of new market segments (Diesendorf, 2000; Willard, 2005). Chouinard (2005), theCEO of Patagonia (a leading outdoor sports clothing company), explains, “[E]ach time wetried to do the right thing for the environment, regardless of the cost to us, we ended upsaving money” (p. 219); though he speaks from experience in the outdoor sporting goodssector, similar cost savings have consistently been found in the resort industry (e.g. Chan& Lam, 2003). Another relative advantage is risk minimization because of both the potential dangersthat global climate change could inflict on resorts and the financial implications of riskgenerally (Sussman & Freed, 2008). Banks and venture capital firms are demanding strongerenvironmental policies before providing access to capital (Epstein & Roy, 2001; Kasemir,Toth, & Masing, 2003). Many financial institutions, such as JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup,Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, have modified their lending policies to reflectenvironmental considerations (Bhat, 1996; Epstein & Mills, 2005; Hoffman, 2007). Studies indicate that employees typically want to work for companies with a positiveenvironmental record (Society for Human Resource Management, 2008; Tandberg, 2007).More sustainable corporations have higher employee retention, greater access to hiringtop talent and increased employee productivity (Tandberg, 2007; Willard, 2002, 2005).Companies with negative public images typically have to pay their employees higher salariesto attract and retain them (Bhat, 1996; Dunphy et al., 2003). One study has shown thatemployee morale was a significant driver for a company to adopt the use of renewableenergy (Wiser, Fowlie, & Holt, 2001). Another relative advantage of adopting environmental sustainability innovations ispreventing regulatory penalties. Regardless of a resort’s environmental values, it is requiredto follow legal regulations that mitigate environmental impact. Costs for failing to meetenvironmental regulations will increase in coming years, presenting significant risks forenvironmentally unsustainable companies (Bhat, 1996). Many companies are motivated toadopt sustainability innovations because of future federal regulations (Labatt & Maclaren,1998; Schmidheiny, 1992). Some scholars argue that if regulation can be anticipated, itprovides an opportunity for innovation and competitive advantage (Dunphy et al., 2003).Considering the many proposed advantages, the following is hypothesized in this study: (H1 ) The perceived net relative advantage of environmental sustainability innovations is posi- tively correlated with the adoption of environmental sustainability innovations.CompatibilityAdopting an innovation is dependent on perceived benefits and also on compatibility ofthe innovation with a company’s organizational structure, attitudes toward the innovation
  7. 7. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 177and decision-making processes (Higa, Sheng, Hu, & Au, 1997). Rogers (2003) explainsthat compatibility is “the degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with theexisting values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters” (p. 240). Few studieshave examined how compatibility of sustainability innovations affects the rate of adoptionin the resort industry (Banerjee, 2001). Studies show that nonresort companies with strong environmental values and policiesare more likely to adopt sustainability innovations (Bansal, 2003; Berkhout & Rowlands,2007; Farhar, 1999; Jennings & Zandbergen, 1995; Prakash, 2000; Sharma, 2000; Wiseret al., 2001). There are numerous cases where companies will go above and beyond regu-lations and competitors in their adoption of sustainability innovations, possibly indicatingdeeply embedded environmental values (Chouinard, 2005; Freeman et al., 2000; Sutton,2000). Environmental values held by senior officials are critical, as Bohdanowicz (2005)explains: “environmental commitment at a corporate level is likely to induce responsiblebehavior at individual facilities” (p. 198). In addition, adopting sustainability innovationsat a resort is also dependent upon how those innovations, especially if they are of a tech-nical nature, are compatible with the facilities. Therefore, the following is hypothesizedhere: (H2 ) The adoption of environmental sustainability innovations is positively correlated with the degree to which they are compatible with current resort operations, practices, values and facilities.SimplicityThe perceived simplicity of an innovation is positively related to its rate of adoption (Rogers,2003). According to Rogers (2003), complexity, the inverse of simplicity, is “the degreeto which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use” (p. 257).Hobday (1998) explains that complexity “is used to reflect the number of customizedcomponents, the breadth of knowledge and skills required and the degree of new knowledgeinvolved in product” (p. 690). Research has shown a negative relationship between thecomplexity of an innovation and its rate of adoption (Hobday, 1998), but exceptions havebeen found (Wonglimpiyarat, 2005). Scholars acknowledge that sustainability, especiallyin an era of multinational corporations and globalization, has become a complex issue forcorporations (van Marrewijk & Hardjono, 2003); the complexity of changing values toadopt sustainability innovations may be inherent in the paradigm shift that is taking place.The term “simplicity” was chosen over “complexity” in order to maintain a consistentpositive-oriented hypothesis direction. No studies that have investigated the correlationbetween simplicity and adoption of sustainability innovations in an organizational settingcould be found. The following is hypothesized: (H3 ) The perceived simplicity of environmental sustainability innovations is positively corre- lated with the adoption of environmental sustainability innovations.TrialabilityThe ability to utilize an innovation for a trial period is positively correlated with its rateof adoption (Rogers, 2003). Rogers (2003) defines trialability as “the degree to which aninnovation may be experimented with on a limited basis” (p. 258). Diffusion research hasprimarily focused on trialability of sustainability innovations outside of organizations (van
  8. 8. 178 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen .A.Alphen, van Hekkert, & Sark, 2006). Chan and Ho (2006) give the example of “energyperformance contracting” that hotels can use to try sustainability innovations; the authorsexplain that energy performance contracting is “a unique arrangement where contractorsusually assume responsibility for purchasing and installing the equipment, as well as mainte-nance throughout the contract” (p. 310). Hotels could use this approach to try sustainabilityinnovations that produce renewable energy or improve energy efficiency. Other examplesof companies adopting sustainability innovations for trial periods of time show that they areprerequisites for fully adopting them (e.g. Holliday et al., 2002). Therefore, the followinghypothesized here: (H4 ) The degree to which a resort can try environmental sustainability innovations on a limited basis is positively correlated with the adoption of environmental sustainability innovations.Characteristics of adoptersThe characteristics of adopters affect the rate at which an innovation is adopted (Rogers,2003). Two characteristics that have been shown to impact adoption, namely opinion leader-ship and innovativeness, will be discussed below.Environmental opinion leadershipOpinion leaders are crucial to the diffusion process. The adopter characteristic of opinionleadership constitutes “the degree to which an individual is able to influence other indi-viduals’ attitudes or overt behavior informally in a desired way with relative frequency”(Rogers, 2003, p. 27). Most innovations are adopted upon recommendation of opinionleaders. But opinion leadership is dependent upon conformity to a system’s norms. If asystem’s norms are changing, opinion leaders are often innovators, but if a system’s normsare not changing, opinion leaders maintain the norm (Rogers, 2003). It is valuable to testthis claim in the context of environmental sustainability innovations in the hotel and resortindustry to assess if self-perceived environmental opinion leadership is correlated with theadoption of sustainability innovations. The following is hypothesized: (H5 ) Environmental opinion leadership is correlated with the adoption of environmental sus- tainability innovations.InnovativenessCharacteristics of resorts, such as size, context and ownership, influence the adoption ofsustainability innovations (Deng et al., 1992; Kirk, 1998; Le et al., 2006; Mensah, 2006;Tzschentke et al., 2008). Beyond a resort’s organizational structure, the ability to adaptto change is a strong predictor for a company’s adoption of technological innovations(DeCanio, Dibble, & Amir-Atefi, 2000; Higa et al., 1997). An additional adopter charac-teristic is innovativeness, defined as “the degree to which an individual or other unit ofadoption is relatively earlier in adopting new ideas than the other members of a system”(Rogers, 2003, p. 22; see also Midgley & Dowling, 1978). Innovativeness is a charac-teristic varying among organizations and is consistently related to company performance(Hult, Hurley, & Knight, 2004); some research has investigated innovativeness in the hotelindustry (Orfila-Sintes et al., 2005; Orfila-Sintes & Mattsson, 2009), but since no priorresearch has examined the relationship between innovativeness and sustainability in theresort industry, the following is hypothesized:
  9. 9. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 179 (H6 ) The perceived resort innovativeness is positively correlated with the adoption of environ- mental sustainability innovations. Finally, on the basis of the overall rationale posited above, the following is hypothesized: (H7 ) The combined variables of the innovation and adopter characteristics will significantly predict the adoption of sustainability innovations.MethodsA quasi-experimental, survey-based study was devised to examine the diffusion of envi-ronmental sustainability innovations in North American hotel and ski resorts. Participants,procedures, measures and data analysis will be discussed in this section.ParticipantsParticipants were primarily managers from major hotels and ski resorts, who were directlyresponsible for or most knowledgeable about their resort’s environmental policies or overalloperation. Because the respondents held varying positions in their resorts, we categorizedthem into five groups to better indicate the nature of their positions (10 participants didnot respond to the question): managers (N = 19), directors (N = 10), human resources(N = 4), environmental managers (N = 3) and others (N = 3). Many resorts still donot have a job position for a sustainability director, and therefore the task of managingenvironmental performance is either distributed or added as an additional responsibility toan employee’s primary role (e.g. L´ pez-Gamero et al., 2008). o The study sample consisted of 49 respondents from 43 hotels, 3 ski resorts and 3 thatwere both a ski resort and a hotel. The average number of staff employed by the participatingresorts was 304 (the largest was 1300, and the smallest was 7). A slight majority (45%) ofparticipants were four-star resorts, and a majority (53%) were privately owned as opposedto corporate-owned. Participants were primarily from California (N = 27) and were alsofrom nine other states in the US, and two were international.ProcedureAn availability sampling method was used to recruit participants, primarily through partner-ships with professional trade associations, personal contacts and social networking web-sites. Participants were contacted by email, phone and newsletters. The researchers part-nered with four organizations to reach participants. Partnering organizations included theCalifornia Hotel and Lodging Association, the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association,the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and the School of Hospitality and TourismManagement at a large California university. Participating resorts accessed the survey online through duringthe winter of 2009. The survey provided informed consent, described the nature of thesurvey and its anonymity and shared the incentive of an executive summary of results forcompleting the survey. If the participant agreed with the terms, they progressed to thesurvey. The survey included questions on sustainability innovations, DIT questions, ex-ploratory research items and resort demographics. A final page thanked the participant,reminded them that the results were confidential and anonymous and provided a space forfeedback.
  10. 10. 180 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen .A.Table 1. Sustainability innovations indices.Sustainability management (α = 0.80; 8 items) (1) Creation of an environmental committee (2) Written environmental policy (3) Creation of an environmental impact assessment report (4) Creation of a detailed program to reduce environmental impacts (5) Hiring of external consultants to advise on environmental policies or programs (6) Sending officials to conferences related to sustainability (7) Assessment of greenhouse gas emissions or carbon footprint (8) Adoption of any nationally or internationally recognized sustainability certification programsEnvironmental communication (α = 0.85; 6 items) (1) Environmental training of staff (2) Environmental education of guests (3) Existence of environmental statements in public messages or resort descriptions (4) Routine meetings to discuss environmentally related issues (5) Community environmental support, involvement or advocacy (6) Our hotel/resort carries out dialogue with other resorts in our industry about environmental sustainabilityManaging resort pollution (α = 0.86; 3 items) (1) Knowledge of environmental pollution around resort (2) Intervention to prevent this pollution (3) Maintenance of local habitat and biodiversityResource conservation (α = 0.91; 12 items) (1) Separate collection of hazardous waste (2) Recovery of food waste (3) Compositing of organic and food waste (4) Knowledge of the existence of local recycling firms and their operations (5) Cooperation with these firms (6) Paying attention to recycled goods (7) Purchasing products that are designed to be reusable (8) Purchasing products and materials that aim to reduce environmental impacts (9) Encouraging recycling among guests (10) Purchasing from local firms and companies (11) Purchasing energy-saving materials (12) Purchasing less hazardous materialsWater recycling (α = 0.85; 5 items) (1) On-site wastewater treatment (2) Discharge of treated wastewater to the surrounding environment (3) Rainwater/snow runoff capture and reuse (4) Use of treated wastewater in landscaping irrigation (5) Use of recycled water for snowmakingEnergy conservation (α = 0.90; 9 items) (1) Producing all of your resort’s energy through solar, wind or other renewable sources of energy (2) Purchasing renewable energy from a local utility provider (3) Purchasing renewable energy credits/green tags (4) Resort’s transportation fleet utilizing alternatively fuelled or hybrid vehicles (5) Strategic transportation to reduce environmental impact (e.g. a plan for reducing car idling times) (6) Providing public transportation for guests (7) Employee carpool or alternative transportation incentives (8) Resort buildings have been constructed to maximize building efficiency, utilizing sustainable materials and methods (meeting the criteria for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] or Energy Star certifications) (9) Policies for remodeling include sustainable features (Continued on next page)
  11. 11. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 181Table 1. Sustainability innovations indices. (Continued)Guestroom sustainability (α = 0.69; 8 items) (1) Energy saver control system in guest rooms (2) Keycard control system in guest rooms that shuts off power when the card is removed (3) Using energy-saving light bulbs in guest rooms (4) Recycling containers in rooms (e.g. for newspapers and plastic bottles) (5) Voluntary linen/towel reuse program (6) Sorting linen according to dirtiness (7) Strategically reducing the amount of cleaning chemicals to use (8) Using sensor-activated lighting in lobby restrooms and other locations that only require intermittent lightingMeasuresThe researchers created an environmental sustainability innovation measure (see Table 1)and modified previously published measures to test the DIT variables (see Table 2 for scalesand Table 3 for factor analysis). The majority of indices were based on a Likert-type scale.Table 2. DIT indices.Relative advantage (α = 0.84; 7 items) (1.2) Will add significant value and market advantage to our resort’s profile and services (1.3) Will reduce customer satisfaction (reverse coded) (1.4) Will reduce employee satisfaction, retention and productivity (reverse coded) (2.l) Is not well matched to our current procedures (reverse coded) (2.4) Are compatible with our existing employee practices (4.1) Require too much technical expertise (reverse coded) (4.6) Is much too complex to implement at this time (reverse coded; Calantone et al., 2006; Moore & Benbasat, 1991; Vishwanath & Goldhaber, 2003; Zhu & He, 2002)Innovativeness (α = 0.81; 2 items) (3.2) Our hotel/resort will often adopt new practices and products before other resorts in our industry. (3.4) Our hotel/resort often embraces new ideas (Hurt et al., 1977).Simplicity (α = 0.86; 3 items) (4.2) Will be a simple and easy process (4.4) Will be easily attainable because of our expansive knowledge about environmental sustainability (4.5) Will require minimal resources (Igbaria et al., 1996; Moore & Benbasat, 1991; Vishwanath & Goldhaber, 2003; Zhu & He, 2002)Environmental opinion leadership (α = 0.95; 2 items) (5.2) Our resort/hotel is very likely to be consulted by other resorts in our industry about sustainability innovations. (5.4) Our resort/hotel is considered by other resorts to be a reliable source of information on environmental sustainability (King et al., 1999).Trialability (α = 0.77; 2 items) (6.1) Before deciding to adopt a sustainability innovation, our resort would need to test the adoption on a smaller scale. (6.2) Having time to try sustainability innovations would motivate our resort to adopt those innovations (Moore & Benbasat, 1991).Cautiousness (α = 0.63; 2 items) (3.1) Our hotel/resort is generally cautious about accepting new ideas. (3.3) Our hotel/resort must see other resorts using new innovations before we will consider them (Hult et al., 2004).Note: Item numbers correlate with the items in the factor analysis in Table 2.
  12. 12. Table 3. DIT indices factor analysis. 182 DIT indices – rotated component matrix Opinion RelativeIndex items leader advantage Simplicity Trialability Cautiousness Innovativeness(1.1) Cost saving 0.517 0.416(1.2) Add value and market advantage 0.556 0.551a(1.3) Customer satisfaction (reverse coded) 0.817a(1.4) Employee satisfaction (reverse coded) 0.615a 0.359 −0.397(1.5) Regulations 0.685 a(2.1) Current procedures (reverse coded) −0.448(2.2) Purchasing practices 0.536 .A.(2.3) Compatible with facilities 0.519 0.38 −0.36(2.4) Compatible employee practices (reverse coded) 0.751a(3.1) Accept new ideas (reverse coded) −0.570a 0.37 a(3.2) Adopt practices before others 0.583 −0.393 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen(3.3) See other resorts before (reverse coded) 0.398 0.35 −0.540a(3.4) Often embrace new idea 0.399 −0.444 −0.384a(4.1) Technical expertise (reverse coded) 0.789a(4.2) Simple and easy 0.851a(4.3) Components and processes (reverse coded) 0.357 0.685(4.4) Easy because of knowledge 0.502 0.700a(4.5) Resources 0.813a(4.6) Complex (reverse coded) 0.750a(5.1) Dialogues with others 0.893(5.2) Is very likely to be contacted about sustainability innovations 0.868a(5.3) Learn more from others than they do from us −0.706(5.4) Is considered a reliable source .863a(6.1) Test on smaller scale 0.783a(6.2) Time to try would motivate adoption 0.717a(6.3) Knowledge of suppliers that will allow to try products 0.633(6.4) Trial period (reverse coded) −0.456 0.506 0.366Note: In some cases, an item was included in a scale even though it did not load in the factor analysis because it strengthened the reliability of the scale and was conceptuallycompatible.a Items included in the construct.
  13. 13. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 183Sustainability innovationsThe environmental sustainability innovation measure (α = 0.82) combined seven sustain-ability subscales, including sustainability management (α = 0.80), environmental commu-nication (α = 0.85), managing resort pollution (α = 0.86), resource conservation (α =0.91), water recycling (α = 0.85), energy conservation (α = 0.90) and guestroom sustain-ability (α = 0.69). The sustainability scales measured the degree of adoption of variousinnovations, such as an EMS, renewable energy technologies, energy-efficient building de-sign, community environmental advocacy and purchasing reusable products. These indiceswere constructed through a combination of reliability analysis and factor analysis in anattempt to create optimally reliable scales; the items of the indices were selected from thepreviously cited literature on sustainability (e.g. Banerjee, 2001; Bansal & Roth, 2000;Berkhout & Rowlands, 2007; Bhat, 1996; Esty & Winston, 2009; Hitchcock & Willard,2006; Willard, 2002). The titles of the sustainability innovation indices were adapted toappropriately fit the items that were included in the scale.Relative advantageThis study employed items from several previous measures of relative advantage (Calantone,Griffith, & Yalcinkaya, 2006; Moore & Benbasat, 1991; Vishwanath & Goldhaber, 2003;Zhu & He, 2002), including quality, productivity, efficiency and competitiveness. Reliabilityanalysis following factor analysis was used to construct a reliable relative advantage scale(α = 0.84).CompatibilityCompatibility of sustainability innovations was measured using items from several previ-ous studies (Agarwal & Prasad, 1998; Calantone et al., 2006; Moore & Benbasat, 1991;Vishwanath & Goldhaber, 2003; Zhu & He, 2002). The measure consisted of compatibilityitems on operations, suppliers and facilities. Following a factor analysis, reliability analysisrevealed that the compatibility scale had a weak reliability (α = 0.59). Therefore parts ofthe compatibility scale were combined with the relative advantage scale, eliminating theability to test the second hypothesis.SimplicitySeveral previously used scales were combined to measure simplicity, because no single,previously developed scale was appropriate for researching sustainability innovations. Re-verse coding of “complexity” scales from Igbaria, Parasuraman and Baroudi (1996) andVishwanath and Goldhaber (2003) were utilized, as well as “ease of use” scales from Mooreand Benbasat (1991) and Zhu and He (2002); the items measured time commitment, costcommitment, components of the sustainability innovation, knowledge base and ease of use.The term “simplicity” is used instead of “complexity” in order to keep the survey itemsconsistently positively coded. Reliability of the scale was good (α = 0.86).TrialabilityMoore and Benbasat’s (1991) measure for trialability was modified to test items of short-term trials, trial opportunities and knowledge of professional contacts to initiate the trial.After deleting two weak items, the reliability of the scale was adequate (α = 0.77).
  14. 14. 184 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen .A.Environmental opinion leadershipKing, Summers and Childers’ (1999) opinion leadership scale was modified to assess thedegree to which a resort perceives itself as a credible industry leader in sustainability.Reliability for the opinion leadership scale was excellent (α = 0.95).InnovativenessAs some companies are more innovative than others (Hult et al., 2004), it would be reason-able to assume that the adoption of sustainability innovations would be more compatiblewith resorts that are more innovative and would confirm Rogers’ (2003) claim that inno-vativeness leads to early adoption. The present study modified Hurt, Joseph and Cook’s(1977) innovativeness scale to test the adoption of sustainability innovations. Followingfactor analysis and the deletion of two items, the reliability was good (α = 0.81).CautiousnessTwo items from the “innovativeness” scale failed to associate with the primary measure ofinnovativeness and were combined into a two-item measure labeled “cautiousness”. Thereliability of the measure was only marginally adequate (α = 0.63).Data analysisHypotheses 1–6 tested the univariate relationships between diffusion characteristics and thevarious dimensions of sustainability innovations, using correlation coefficients. Hypothesis7 was tested using multiple regression analysis, regressing the diffusion characteristics onthe composite sustainability innovations index. All hypotheses were tested at the 0.05 alphalevel. Power estimates for testing the primary hypotheses were 0.17 for a small effect, 0.67for a medium effect and 0.98 for a large effect.ResultsHypothesis 1, which posited that “the perceived net relative advantage of environmen-tal sustainability innovations is positively correlated with the adoption of environmentalsustainability innovations,” was partially confirmed. The relative advantage index corre-lated with two of the six univariate indices: sustainability management index (r = 0.35,r 2 = 0.12, p < 0.05) and environmental communication (r = 0.31, r 2 = 0.10, p < 0.05). Hypothesis 2, which posited that “the adoption of environmental sustainability innova-tions is positively correlated with the degree to which they are compatible with current resortoperations, practices, values and facilities”, was not tested because the index developed totest compatibility was found not to be reliable (α = 0.59). Hypothesis 3, which posited that “the perceived simplicity of environmental sustain-ability innovations is positively correlated with the adoption of environmental sustainabilityinnovations”, was confirmed. The simplicity index correlated with environmental commu-nication (r = 0.42, r 2 = 0.18, p < 0.01), managing resort pollution (r = 0.34, r 2 = 0.12,p < 0.05), resource conservation (r = 0.55, r 2 = 0.30, p < 0.01), water recycling(r = 0.66, r 2 = 0.44, p < 0.01), energy conservation (r = 0.66, r 2 = 0.44, p < 0.01)and guestroom sustainability (r = 0.43, r 2 = 0.19, p < 0.01).
  15. 15. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 185 Hypothesis 4, which posited that “the degree to which a resort can try environmentalsustainability innovations on a limited basis is positively correlated with the adoption ofenvironmental sustainability innovations”, was not confirmed. None of the sustainabilityinnovations significantly correlated with trialability. Hypothesis 5, which posited that “environmental opinion leadership is correlated withthe adoption of environmental sustainability innovations”, was confirmed. Environmentalopinion leadership correlated with sustainability management (r = 0.49, r 2 = 0.24, p <0.01), environmental communication (r = 0.69, r 2 = 0.48, p < 0.01), managing resortpollution (r = 0.55, r 2 = 0.30, p < 0.01), resource conservation (r = 0.46, r 2 = 0.21,p < 0.01) and energy conservation (r = 0.47, r 2 = 0.22, p < 0.05). Hypothesis 6, which posited that “the perceived resort innovativeness is positivelycorrelated with the adoption of environmental sustainability innovations”, was partiallyconfirmed. The innovativeness index correlated with the sustainability management index(r = 0.40, r 2 = 0.16, p < 0.01) and the environmental communication index (r = 0.40,r 2 = 0.16, p < 0.01). Hypothesis 7, which posited that “the combined variables of the innovation and adoptercharacteristics will significantly predict the adoption of sustainability innovations”, waspartially confirmed, with only one variable, simplicity, entering the model (r = 0.58, r 2 =0.34, F = 6.41, p < 0.05). The post hoc cautiousness variable did not significantly correlate with any of thesustainability innovations (see Table 4 for correlation table of DIT scales).DiscussionThis section includes a discussion of the findings and their implications, the contributionto diffusion and resort sustainability research, the limitations of the study and suggestionsfor future research.SimplicitySimplicity was the most predictive variable for the adoption of sustainability innovations;it was the only variable in the regression analysis to significantly predict overall resortsustainability innovation. It was also strongly correlated with all six of the sustainabilityinnovation categories. Evidently, the primary facilitator of environmental innovations ofall types is the degree to which the management perceived that innovations were relativelyeasy to understand and implement. Because implementing environmentally sustainableinnovations can be a challenging task for resorts (van Marrewijk & Hardjono, 2003), itis important to recognize the vital role that perceived simplicity plays in the process ofadopting sustainability innovations. This finding has important implications for change agents, opinion leaders and suppliersin the resort industry. Sustainability communication must emphasize simplicity and ease ofadopting sustainability innovations to increase the rate of adoption. This is especially truewithin the resort industry, as sustainability is still in early stages of being widely adopted.This supports research that has shown perceived complexity to be a barrier for companieswhen they are considering adopting sustainability innovations (Shrivastava, 1995). Thedegree to which resort managers perceive sustainability innovations as easy to implementwill significantly promote adoption. As resorts and the larger corporate sector cope with the current economic downturn,they will be attempting to reduce risk and maximize financial return. Adopting complex
  16. 16. 186Table 4. Correlation matrix of DIT scales. Correlations Relative advantage Simplicity Trialability Opinion leader Innovativeness Cautiousness index index index index index indexRelative advantage index Pearson correlation 1 0.017 −0.144 0.145 0.282 −0.406b Significance (two-tailed) 0.910 0.351 0.348 0.063 0.006 .A. N 44 44 44 44 44 44Simplicity index Pearson correlation 0.017 1 0.242 0.385b 0.201 0.343a Significance (two-tailed) 0.910 0.114 0.010 0.191 0.023 N 44 44 44 44 44 44 K.R. Smerecnik and P AndersenTrialability index Pearson correlation −0.144 0.242 1 0.327a −0.235 0.316a Significance (two-tailed) 0.351 0.114 0.030 0.124 0.037 N 44 44 44 44 44 44Opinion leader index Pearson correlation 0.145 0.385b 0.327a 1 0.303a 0.004 Significance (two-tailed) 0.348 0.010 0.030 0.046 0.978 N 44 44 44 44 44 44Innovativeness index Pearson correlation 0.282 0.201 −0.235 0.303a 1 −0.142 Significance (two-tailed) 0.063 0.191 0.124 0.046 0.359 N 44 44 44 44 44 44Cautiousness index Pearson correlation −0.406b 0.343a 0.316a 0.004 −0.142 1 Significance (two-tailed) 0.006 0.023 0.037 0.978 0.359 N 44 44 44 44 44 44a Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (two-tailed).b Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (two-tailed).
  17. 17. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 187innovations increases risks of lost revenue, time and resources. As sustainability will con-tinue to diffuse throughout the industry, resorts will continually be looking for innovationsthat improve company performance while minimizing uncertainty and cost.Relative advantageResort perception of the relative advantage of environmental sustainability was partiallyconfirmed as moderately correlating with the sustainability management and environmentalcommunication indices. Typically, relative advantage is the strongest predictor of innova-tion adoption. Businesses are constantly looking for innovations that provide a competitiveadvantage to their company. As sustainability is still an emerging trend in the resort industry,it is possible that a number of resorts are still in the early stages of adopting sustainabil-ity innovations. It is conceivable that this early stage is characterized by less financiallyintensive sustainability innovations and instead by those that are strategy-oriented, suchas sustainability management and environmental communication; these two variables arealso especially relevant to the tasks performed by resort managers, who were the primaryparticipants in the study. Another plausible reason that relative advantage was not a greater predictor or correlatedwith sustainability innovation adoption was due to the varying expertise of the managerswho participated in the study. It is possible that the decision to adopt resort sustainabilityinnovations was made by a corporate headquarters, company board or CEO who had strate-gically assessed the relative advantages that the innovation would create. The participatingmanagers, though skilled in their knowledge of sustainability implementation, may not havebeen highly knowledgeable about the full range of relative advantages that sustainabilityinnovations would create for the resort. In addition, managers may not see a strong enoughcustomer demand for sustainability in their resorts and therefore not perceive it as providinga considerable relative advantage. Though no definitive claims can be made about this, thefinding provokes a topic for future research on the dissemination of knowledge related torelative advantages of innovations.Environmental opinion leadershipEnvironmental opinion leadership strongly correlated with the adoption of sustainabilityinnovations. It is important to note that environmental opinion leadership is a characteristicof the adopter as opposed to most of the other predictors that are characteristics of inno-vations. It bodes well for the diffusion of sustainability innovations that managers, whoperceive their resorts to be opinion leaders in sustainability, are in fact adopting numer-ous sustainability innovations. Rogers (2003) explains that when social systems are in astate of change, opinion leaders tend to be the most innovative; as sustainability is diffus-ing throughout numerous corporate sectors it is not surprising that environmental opinionleadership also correlated with innovativeness (r = 0.30, r 2 = 0.09, p < 0.05). It is alsonot surprising that environmental opinion leadership correlated highest with environmentalcommunication. These findings suggest that sustainability will become even more prevalentat resorts as environmental opinion leaders continue to advocate on behalf of sustainabilityinnovations with multiple audiences.InnovativenessInterestingly, although innovativeness has been connected to high performance (Hultet al., 2004) and has been investigated in the hotel industry (Orfila-Sintes et al., 2005;
  18. 18. 188 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen .A.Orfila-Sintes & Mattsson, 2009), there has been limited research that supports innovative-ness being connected to sustainability performance. The correlation with sustainabilitymanagement and environmental communication, as well as with environmental opinionleadership, provides evidence that sustainability is becoming an emergent practice of inno-vative hotels and will most likely lead to other hotels adopting sustainability. The resultsreveal that the higher the innovativeness, the greater the communication by the resort or-ganization to the public, to guests, to workers and to other hotels. The correlation portendsgreater diffusion of sustainability.TrialabilityTrialability did not correlate with the adoption of any sustainability innovations. The lackof association may be a consequence of the difficulty in partially or temporarily adoptingsustainability innovations. Most suppliers of sustainability-related products and servicesmay not yet offer trial periods. Another explanation is that resorts may spend extensivetime researching appropriate sustainability innovations and only implement them when thedata strongly support advantages for the company; it may be difficult or uneconomical topartially implement such an innovation. The time spent researching may supersede attemptsto implement trial periods of innovations.CautiousnessCautiousness was a post hoc index developed from two “innovativeness” survey items thatseemed more appropriate as a distinct construct because of its separate factor loading.Cautiousness did not correlate with the adoption of sustainability innovations. Similar toinnovativeness, cautiousness is a characteristic of an adopter as considered by scholars tobe a key construct in the development of new business processes and structures (Zhen et al.,2004), as would be the case with the integration of sustainability innovations. Cautiousnessmay not have correlated with sustainability adoption because of an inadequately constructedmeasure. The nature of cautiousness does not necessarily intuitively correlate with theadoption or rejection of innovations. It is an intriguing adopter characteristic to measure,as it could lead to successful adoption of sustainability innovations because of carefulconsiderations of the innovation implementation process; but just as possibly, it couldnegatively correlate with adoption because of the risk of implementing new sustainabilityinitiatives. This characteristic warrants further study to assess its influence on the adoptionof sustainability innovations.ContributionScholars have argued that environmental sustainability in resorts is an area that requiresfurther research (Erdogan & Baris, 2007; Reid, 2006; Trung & Kumar, 2005). Few studieshave examined the diffusion of sustainability in the resort industry (e.g. Le et al., 2006).This study provides new insights into an under-researched field. As little research has in-vestigated the role of perceived simplicity in the adoption of sustainability innovations, thisstudy reveals that it is critical for change agents and opinion leaders to emphasize simplicityto increase the rate of sustainability adoption. Communication about sustainability innova-tions must highlight the ease of implementing these innovations. Additionally, this studysuggests that environmental opinion leadership is an important factor that correlates with
  19. 19. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 189the adoption of some sustainability innovations, indicating that sustainability may becomemore widespread within the industry.LimitationsSeveral limitations existed in the current study. The most significant limitation was the rel-atively small sample size. Our reliance on personal contacts, email, social networking andpartnering organizations yielded a small availability sample. Although the sample was ge-ographically diverse and varied in its degree of sustainability innovation, we make no claimas to its representativeness. One cause of the low participation was reliance on partneringorganizations. To maintain the privacy of their members, partnering organizations wouldnot give us access to their membership email list and took responsibility for distributingthe survey. This prevented the researchers from knowing who received the survey and cal-culating a response rate. For example, the California Hotel and Lodging Association onlyplaced a link to the survey on their monthly newsletter. Though it was allegedly sent to over1700 members, it was unclear how many of those members actually received the newsletter,let alone read it. Our partnering organizations also refused to send out reminder emails,reducing the exposure of the study to potential participants. In the future, an agreementshould be made before partnering with an organization on the number of reminder emailsthat can be sent to ensure a proper participant recruitment method. A second limitation is the variability of participants’ knowledge of sustainability. Mosthotels and resorts do not have a staff position dedicated to environmental policies, soparticipants held several different staff positions. The survey indicated that participantsshould be “directly responsible for or most knowledgeable about your resort’s environmentalpolicies or overall operations”. The varied expertise of the participants who completedthe survey possibly increased the variability of responses. In order to control for this infuture studies, a survey measure could have participants rank their personal knowledge ofsustainability and competence of implementation. Lastly, it is evident that for our statistically significant outcomes the variance accountedfor was generally small, suggesting small effect sizes for the hypothesized variables. Obvi-ously, other variables such as political ideology, information level, organization size, publicrelations factors and economic solvency were in play here. Future studies should cast awider net to attempt to capture more variance in sustainability innovation.Future researchFuture research on sustainability in the resort industry should focus on issues related tocommunication, management and organizational capacity for environmental sustainability.Specifically, it could focus on communication between stakeholders and resorts, commu-nication between managers and employees, risk communication related to environmentaldamages, internal sustainability compliance-gaining tactics and community engagement.Industry knowledge of these items could add value to resorts’ sustainability performanceas well as maximize feedback channels for continual improvement. More research shouldalso focus on how to effectively communicate with stakeholders in order to gain communitysupport for sustainable development; this can potentially lead to policy initiatives that maygive a competitive advantage to resorts that have already adopted numerous sustainabilityinnovations.
  20. 20. 190 K.R. Smerecnik and P Andersen .A. Leadership and management research in resort sustainability can also be improved.Future research can focus on the effectiveness of combining transformational leadershipskills with integrating sustainability, also echoed by other scholars (e.g. Denning, 2005).Studies can be conducted on the most effective management techniques to increase adoptionof environmental values throughout a company as well as to find ways to allow employeesto participate in the construction of those values. Research can focus on how managers cancreate incentives for employees to educate themselves on sustainability and find appropriateways to improve processes and products to be more sustainable, as seen in the exampleof the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco (Reid, 2006). Scholars can also find ways toimprove information-sharing technologies in order to maximize sustainability knowledgethroughput. Additional research can focus on factors beyond sustainability diffusion topics suchas the organizational capacity for change. For example, one study found a number ofdimensions that led to organizational capacity for change to integrate sustainability; thedimensions consisted of trustworthy leadership, trusting followers, capable champions,involved management, innovative culture, accountable culture, systems communicationand systems thinking (Judge & Elenkov, 2005). Improving the understanding of whatfactors lead to successful organizational change will help resorts to more successfullyadopt sustainability innovations and effectively change to practices that strategically reduceenvironmental impacts.ConclusionThis study reveals the importance of perceived simplicity and relative advantage in theprocess of adopting sustainability innovations. It also confirms that environmental opinionleadership and innovativeness create a higher rate of sustainability innovation adoption.The study was very limited because of a low response rate yet still provides a valuablecontribution to the emerging fields of resort sustainability and diffusion of sustainabilityinnovations. The professional sample of resorts allows for important insight into currentindustry trends and a picture of the modern shape of corporate sustainability in hotels andresorts. Sustainability in the resort industry is complicated because customers expect luxuriouscomfort as a priority, often over environmental concerns (Kirk, 1995); one (albeit nowdated) survey has shown that US guests are not willing to pay more for green policies(Watkins, 1994). Resorts must not look solely to customer demand for a reason to adoptsustainability initiatives but rather understand the holistic long-term benefits that pervadeall operations; fortunately, scholars and managers are now realizing that sustainability canbring value to numerous aspects of resort performance (Banerjee, 2001; Bansal & Roth,2000; Dunphy et al., 2003; Esty & Winston, 2009; Freeman et al., 2000; Hoffman, 2007;Molina-Azor´n et al., 2009; Shrivastava, 1996; Willard, 2002). It is imperative for resorts ıto adopt sustainability innovations not only to increase competitive advantage but to reducesociety’s overall environmental impact. The resort industry and the greater corporate sectorneed to shift their business models to a paradigm that provides a long-term vision forcreating value for society while not eroding natural resources. Adopting sustainabilityinnovations can act as a transformational innovation that can dramatically reshape the wayresorts and companies provide products and services and contribute to society’s progresstoward integrating sustainable lifestyles (Denning, 2005).
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