Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Institutional change processes in national tourism administrations: the case of Servicio Nacional de Turismo, Chile

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posted on 2021-11-13, 20:22 authored by Guala Catalán, César Alejandro

Three decades after the creation of the Chilean national tourism administration – the Servicio Nacional de Turismo (Sernatur) – the government initiated a process of institutional change. In 2007, a bill was submitted to Parliament and in 2010 the bill was enacted (Act 20423). Act 20423 replaced the existing national tourism administration (NTA) with a new set of public organisations performing various roles in tourism. The act not only created a new structure but also modified the allocation of roles in tourism to different agencies thereby creating a new public institutional framework for tourism in Chile.  Although changes like those occurring in Chile have attracted some attention, such research tends to lack a broad perspective and fails to consider how and why processes of change occur and how changes in the general environment impact on the process. In order to address this broad perspective, this thesis concentrates on three research questions: what was the process that led to the creation of the new Chilean institutional framework for tourism, what were the factors that influenced and shaped the process, and how and why did the process and the factors influence the outcomes of the process. In this way, this research aims to provide a better understanding of how and why NTAs change over time.  To address this problem, a conceptual framework is developed from three separate bodies of literature: tourism organisations, the administration of the public sector, and tourism policymaking. The framework illustrates two critical aspects to investigate a process of change in NTAs: a spatial scale and a temporal scale. The first scale shows that the process of change occurs in, and is influenced by, a broad context composed of two sub-systems and multiple interrelated organisations. The second scale presents the process of change over time and shows that changes in the environmental conditions also influence the process.  The process of change and the influence of contextual factors are examined using an in-depth analysis of the relevant documentation. This method is complemented by in-depth semi-structured interviews with multiple stakeholders. In order to address the various aspects of the conceptual framework, a multi-phase approach is also adopted for the analysis of the data.  The research reveals that in democratic countries like Chile, institutional change occurs in the context of a legislative process. Three policy stages are suggested to operationalise the process: pre-legislative, policy window, and legislative. In each of these stages there are several components of a policy process: evaluations, agendas, formulation, decision making, and implementation. During the process of change these components overlap and a division into consecutive phases as proposed by the Policy Cycle Model cannot be operationalised. The thesis also shows that the process is influenced and shaped by several factors arising from environmental conditions and evaluation reports. Environmental conditions directly impact on the process and shape the focus and outcomes of evaluation reports. In turn, evaluation reports impact on the process by shaping the proposals discussed during the policy stages. This also challenges the Policy Cycle Model on the ground that evaluations are not part of a single phase and that these evaluations play different roles during the policy process. Finally, this thesis suggests that the outcomes of a process of institutional change in tourism are influenced by both the environmental conditions and the features of the process (consultation, participation, agreement, disagreement, power, negotiation, and acceptance). Variations in the environmental conditions influence the features of the policy process and in turn, changes in these features directly impact the outcomes of the process.  In summary, the analysis of the Chilean case reveals that processes of change in NTAs are directly influenced by the general environment in which these processes occur. This suggests that these processes are not isolated developments and therefore the general environment strongly influences the features and outcomes of the process. Hence, investigating the influence of these conditions is critical to explain how a process of change occurs and why particular outcomes result from the process. Variations in the environmental conditions impact on the features of the policy process so that changes in these features directly shape the outcomes of the process.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Tourism Management

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Pearce, Douglas