An environmental social marketing intervention in cultural heritage tourism: a realist evaluation

Diana Gregory-Smith, Victoria K. Wells, Danae Manika, David McElroy

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5 Citations (Scopus)
161 Downloads (Pure)


Following Pawson and Tilley's principles of realist evaluation and the context–mechanism–outcome (CMO) framework, this paper conducts a process evaluation of an environmental social marketing intervention in a heritage tourism organisation. Social marketing and employee environmental interventions have received relatively scant attention in tourism. Additionally, prior literature mostly focused on the evaluation of intervention outcomes (i.e. how far the intervention produces precise targeted outcomes) and ignores the importance of process evaluation (i.e. identifying what works, for whom, under which circumstances and how, plus issues of intervention maintenance). This paper fills this literature gap using realist evaluation theory and academic perspectives, as well as via the reflections of practitioners involved in intervention design and delivery. Findings suggest that a good understanding of the tourism and organisational context (regarding the dimensions of structure, culture, agency and relations) and the use of tailored, action-focused mechanisms (for each context dimension) are critical to achieving transformational outcomes in environmental interventions in cultural heritage organisations. Based on these findings, it is concluded that the CMO is a useful framework for assessing environmental social marketing interventions in tourism (both for heritage and other tourism organisations). Implications for tourism practice and further research directions are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Early online date10 Mar 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2017


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