Networks, knowledge, and relationships have become crucial assets to business survival in the new economy. Research indicates that network building is a major new source of competitive advantage and an essential regional and indeed global management requirement. Because regional policies encourage interfirm alliances and the development of regional economic communities, the fostering of a culture of connectivity, networking, learning, and trust between regional Australian small and medium-size tourism enterprises (SMTEs) may offer a potential solution to the possible loss of competitive advantage for Australian tourism enterprises. It is suggested that SMTEs would benefit from increased information flow through regional networking and cooperative e-marketing campaigns to enhance market visibility, global positioning, and strategic leverage in the new economy.
This article has discussed how fostering of a culture of connectivity, networking, learning, and trust between regional Australian SMTEs may offer a potential solution to the possible loss of competitive advantage in the new economy. Because networking and cooperative relationships are considered prime determinants of commercial success, Australian SMTEs have the opportunity to both collaborate and compete by joining a regional marketing portal founded on cooperative principles such as sharing resources and exchanging industry knowledge. Having drawn on the interdisciplinary fields of networking, trust, and cooperative structuring, it is suggested that overcoming potential loss of competitive advantage for SMTEs in the digital economy will require strategic SMTE community building with connectivity, collaboration, and trust as pivotal building components. As with any new model, there is the danger that significant additional factors may not have been taken into consideration. While this article demonstrates that in the new economy the focus has to remain on individual SMTE needs rather than on networked technologies, there is much scope for further cross-disciplinary research within both theoretical frameworks and practical applications. SMTE positioning in the global marketplace, public versus privately networked SMTE technologies, SMTE relationship marketing, and industry-based SMTE capacity building are all timely research directions for the knowledge economy.