Inside the black-box: Innovations in the hospitality sector

Results from the project

Innovation in the hospitality industry – Firm or location?

Innovationer inom besöksnäringen

The innovation of things in hotels

BFUF Rapport #7
Hur ser morgondagens hotell ut?

Mikaela Backman, PhD in Economics, Jönköping International Business School

What is the research project about?
“We will investigate what kind of innovations are available in the hospitality industry. We believe that there are many, but they are little known and few people have studied this previously. We will also see whether there are differences in the power of innovation between the hospitality industry and other industries.”

Today’s politicians and decision-makers are extremely focused on innovation. This is visible not least in regional innovation and development strategies. However, we often measure the ability to innovate in terms of patents. And that is not suitable at all for a service sector. We want to shed light on the innovations in the hospitality industry and help to achieve a new perspective. If we don’t know that the hospitality industry is innovative, it’s easy to ignore it and its importance.”

Why is it important to know what an innovation is?
“Without that knowledge, we can’t produce the right tools that can help the sector grow and develop.

How have you defined “hospitality industry”?
“We will look mainly at hotels and restaurants.

What approach will you use?
“At the first stage, we will carry out a review of the literature in order to define the concept of innovation, among other things. After that, we will conduct a questionnaire survey of at least 500 people in the hotel and restaurant industry. We will develop statistics on innovations. This will be unique data that has never been produced in Sweden before. The survey will include questions concerning whether the company has introduced a new product, a new service or has changed and developed its processes. With the aid of the responses, we will also study whether there is a correlation between the ability to innovate and, for example, the size of the company, the level of education, the employees’ background and the geographical location.”

What can an innovation in the hospitality industry consist of?
“It could, for example, be an app for ordering food, an improvement to a work process, how to display goods or produce and manufacture products.”

How can the hospitality industry benefit from the research?
“Knowledge of the links between innovative companies and where they are located geographically, who the workers are or which companies are located in the same place can be extremely important when, for example, a decision must be made concerning localisation or expansion. We also hope that the results and the knowledge will help municipal politicians and national decision-makers to obtain better supporting data for making decisions on actions and in development strategies.”

What is the biggest challenge?
“To make the questionnaire really good so we can really define the willingness to innovate and attract a sufficient number of responses.”

Tell us briefly about yourself
“I have a Doctorate in Economics from Jönköping International Business School. Renewal is the overall aim of my research. My focus is on regional development, for example, what makes some municipalities and regions grow, why things go well for some of them and not so well for others and what factors are important.”

Other assistants
Özge Öner, PhD in Economics, IFN [Institutet för Näringslivsforskning – The Research Institute of Industrial Economics]
Johan Klaesson, Professor of Economics, Jönköping International Business School
Hans Westlund, Professor at KTH [Kungliga tekniska högskolan – Royal Institute of Technology] and Jönköping International Business School

Project facts


Inside the black-box: Innovations in the hospitality sector

Research organization

Jönköping International Business School

Project Manager

Mikaela Backman


2015 Feb – 2016 Dec


SEK 1,400,000

Läs om projektet på svenska »

Mikaela Backman


Foto: Internationella Handelshögskolan


Johan Klaesson


Foto: Internationella Handelshögskolan


Özge Öner


Foto: Internationella Handelshögskolan

Hans Westlund


Foto: Internationella Handelshögskolan