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Doctoral defence in Tourism Studies - Magdalena Falter

Doctoral defence in Tourism Studies - Magdalena Falter - Available at University of Iceland
Thu, 16/05/2024 - 11:00 to 13:00


The Aula

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Doctoral candidate: Magdalena Falter

Title of thesis: Rethinking tourism through digital innovation? Rural tourism entrepreneurs in Iceland.

Dr. Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir, Head of the Department of Rural Tourism, Hólar University.
Dr. Laila Gibson, Assistant Professor at Karlstads Universitet, Svíþjóð.

Doctoral committee:
Dr.Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson, Professor at the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland.
Dr.Carina Ren, Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark.
Dr.Wolfgang Dorner, Professor at the Technische Hochschule Deggendorf, Germany.

Chair of Ceremony:
Dr. Snæbjörn Pálsson, Professor and Head of the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland.


This PhD tackles the challenge of rethinking tourism through digital innovation with a focus on rural tourism lifestyle entrepreneurs in Iceland. Based on discussions on tourism development that address the urgent need to reduce the negative impacts of tourism on destinations, this PhD investigates the potential positive contribution of rural tourism lifestyle entrepreneurs in this regard in this regard through the use of digital innovation. The PhD particularly explores the interrelation between digital innovation and entrepreneurial dynamics in rural Iceland based on qualitative methodology, with information gathered through field studies, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews with more than 60 tourism entrepreneurs and representatives from the tourism support system. Also, a rural hackathon is developed as an action research case study to show how approaches to applying digitalization in rural Iceland manifest in practice by engaging with the actors involved and identifying potentially absent actors. This PhD contributes to a deeper understanding of how small tourism practitioners perceive current tourism development and act in Iceland. Moreover, it showcases how these rural tourism actors understand and work with innovation and digital solutions and what their motivations are for doing so. This research emphasizes untapped knowledge by acknowledging entrepreneurs and their potential for rethinking tourism development, concluding with recommendations for practice and policy. The aim of this research is to bridge theory and practice and contribute to the academic field by providing knowledge of hitherto underexplored areas, both in Iceland and international context

About the doctoral candidate

Magdalena is from Bavaria, South Germany. She holds a B.A. in Spanish and Business Administration and a M.A. in Geography with a focus on Tourism. Before she came to Iceland to start her PhD project, she worked as a regional development manager in rural Bavaria.

As a part of her PhD project, she co-founded the hackathon label Hacking Hekla in 2020, and established a wide-ranging network in the Icelandic tourism and innovation scene. She is deeply connected to her roots in Bavaria and spends as much time there as possible, especially to participate in her family's latest entrepreneurial endeavor, a lively coffeehouse in a historic building.

The Icelandic horse scene plays an important role in her life. Her horse Gjöf is an important anchor and balance to her PhD career and professional life.

Magdalena Falter

Doctoral defence in Tourism Studies - Magdalena Falter