Experimentation for New Knowledge in Hospitality & Tourism
Rossiter (2002) develops a three-level hierarchy of knowledge: first-order is descriptive knowledge, second-order is correlation knowledge, and third-order is causal knowledge. They asserted that third-order knowledge is the ultimate aim of theory development. The experiment is a proper method for empirically examining cause-and-effect relationships (Viglia & Dolnicar, 2020). Aronson et al. (1990, p. 9) claimed that “a true experiment is the best method for finding out whether one thing really causes another.” The manipulation of independent variables distinguishes experiments from traditional non-experimental methods, allowing researchers to examine casual effects beyond correlations (Mattila et al., 2021). The causal effects cannot be tested using a cross-sectional design, which was commonly adopted by hospitality and tourism researchers, because a survey only allows testing correlation between variables. Correlation is meaningful but not enough for informing practitioners about the effectiveness of an intervention because the effects can be due to many uncontrolled factors. Viglia and Dolnicar (2020) agreed that causal-relationship knowledge not only pushes a field forward but also is most meaningful in providing practical recommendations.
Experiments have been widely acknowledged as valuable tools for attaining new knowledge for academia and developing new practices for professionals (Hildén et al., 2017). Unlike traditional research methods, the experimental method focuses on real-life problem solving to create practically applicable knowledge (Sørensen et al., 2010). More importantly, experiments are also used to discover new consumer behavior, new paradigm shifts, new structures and trends, thus develop generic new knowledge that can be theorized (Sørensen et al., 2010). Therefore, it is not surprising that experimentation has received extensive buy-ins from researchers in numerous disciplines, such as psychology, economics, marketing, and management (Koschate-Fischer & Schandelmeier, 2014). Koschate-Fischer and Schandelmeier (2014) found that experimental designs were used in over half of the articles published in the four leading marketing journals (Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, and Marketing Science) between 2008 and 2011. Another literature review revealed that 62% of the articles published in the Journal of Marketing Research between 2013 and 2019 employed experiments (Grewal et al., 2020). Podsakoff and Podsakoff (2019) also found an upward trend in using an experimental design in management research over the past three decades. These shreds of evidence showcase the importance of experimentation in marketing and management research.
However, experiment as a research method has been given too small a role in hospitality and tourism research (Fong et al., 2016; Fong et al., 2020; Sun et al., 2020). Leung et al. (2015) found that only 8.8% of the marketing articles published in eight hospitality and tourism journals between 1996 and 2013 used experimental designs. A recent article reported that less than 8% of the articles published in Annals of Tourism Research in 2018 were based on experiments (Viglia & Dolnicar, 2020). As we witness the under-utilization of experimental research in the hospitality and tourism field, there is a need to promote this promising approach to advance current first- and second-order knowledge to third-order knowledge. For this reason, many scholars have called for more experimentation in hospitality and tourism studies (Dolnicar & Ring, 2014; Mattila et al., 2021). Therefore, this special issue aims to stimulate the uptake of experimental research in obtaining new third-order knowledge (both practical and theoretical) in the hospitality and tourism field. We expect to receive papers that are built on sound theoretical foundations, adopt rigorous designs of experiments and collect data from lab- and field-based experiments. Papers characterized with multiple experiments are recommended.
We invite contributions that feature the creation of third-order causal knowledge through experimentation on new phenomena, problems, and trends, theory extension and development, and epistemological advancements in hospitality and tourism management. Sample topics include the use of experimental designs on but not limited to the following:
- New normal of travel in a post-pandemic world
- New information & communications technology in hospitality/tourism
- New paradigm shifts in hospitality/tourism
- New consumer behavior in hospitality/tourism
- New problems in human resource management in hospitality/tourism
- New opportunities in hospitality/tourism
- New challenges in hospitality/tourism
- Theory extension in hospitality/tourism
- Theory development in hospitality/tourism
Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Management
- Submission of abstracts – 30 November 2021
- Authors notified – 15 January 2022
- Submission of full manuscripts – 31 May 2022
- Publication of special issue – early 2023