RG 1. Tourism, Identities and Cultural Heritage

For tourism to contribute to local development in ways that are effective, sustainable and responsible, the conservation of the material and nonmaterial heritage of relatively rural, peripheral, less-favoured and protected areas must be assured. RG1’s interdisciplinary research (on tourism in general and cultural tourism in particular) seeks to simultaneously promote stakeholder responsibility and commercial competitiveness in territories where heritage constitutes a key asset for sustainable local development. Tourism is thus seen as an integral part of an overall development process in which all elements interact and in which the provision of tourism and associated cultural products and services is founded equally on the economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainability.

RG 2. Innovation, Markets and Organizations

RG2’s researchers seek to identify the conditions under which organisations might develop more innovative, sustainable and successful strategies in response to today’s difficult circumstances and the rapidly changing economic, socio-political, competitive and regulatory environ­ments. The Group prioritises in particular firms and other organisations - whether in the private, public or third sectors, that are of a smaller scale and/or located in rural territories. Research focuses above all on identifying the types of management and training practices that are more innovative, creative, enterprising and adaptive, thereby promoting improvements in organisations’ performance and in the contribution they make to sustainable local development.

RG 3. Society , Territory, Resources and Policies

In periods of crisis and recovery, past achievements in the sustainable use of endogenous resources need to be defended, since they can significantly enhance territorial competitiveness and mitigate some of the worst impacts of austerity on local communities and the rural economy. From this perspective, RG3 evaluates the demand for local resource-based goods and services emanating from the local population, visitors, the business community and society at large; it identifies the public policies and organizational strategies that might stimulate the supply of these goods and services in the interests of local development; and it assesses the institutional and policy preconditions essential for more endogenously-driven local development.