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Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 315; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020315

Bonding and Bridging Forms of Social Capital in Wildlife Tourism Microentrepreneurship: An Application of Social Network Analysis

1
Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203, USA
2
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
3
Department of Geography, Environmental Management & Energy Studies, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, Johannesburg 2092, South Africa
4
Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
5
Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 December 2017 / Revised: 21 January 2018 / Accepted: 24 January 2018 / Published: 26 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Developing Tourism in Rural and Agricultural Regions)
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Abstract

Tourism has been recognized as an important economic sector, requiring a high degree of involvement from the entrepreneurial sector to diversify tourism products and services to meet increasing demand. Tourism is often considered a tool for economic development and a strategy to improve the livelihoods of rural citizens. Specifically, nature-based tourism, such as wildlife tourism, is growing faster than tourism in general, providing a myriad of opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurial engagement. However, several obstacles exist for these small-scale tourism enterprises, such as a lack of social capital. This study examined a network of wildlife tourism microentrepreneurs for bonding and bridging forms of social capital using a social network analysis approach, where bonding and bridging social capital have their own interpretation. Thirty-seven in-person interviews were conducted with wildlife tourism microentrepreneurs from North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound Region. The study revealed that microentrepreneurs interacted with each other in a bridging network structure. The ability to reciprocate with other members of the network was essential for business success. The results identified four key bridging ties connecting potential sub-groups in the network, connected to each other in a redundant fashion. We concluded that the formation of a bridging network structure was a function of entrepreneurial phenomena that may not promote a highly trusted, well-connected network. The findings and implications are further discussed in the paper. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildlife tourism; microentrepreneurship; social capital; bonding; bridging; social network analysis wildlife tourism; microentrepreneurship; social capital; bonding; bridging; social network analysis
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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KC, B.; Morais, D.B.; Seekamp, E.; Smith, J.W.; Peterson, M.N. Bonding and Bridging Forms of Social Capital in Wildlife Tourism Microentrepreneurship: An Application of Social Network Analysis. Sustainability 2018, 10, 315.

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