Purpose - Despite the proliferation of the governance concept in the broader academic literature, there is little agreement on definitions, scope and what actually constitutes governance. This is arguably due to the fact that empirical research on the topic, with some exceptions, is generally limited to case studies without use of any common conceptual framework. This is certainly the case in other fields of study and is becoming increasingly obvious in tourism research also. Therefore, the purpose of the paper is to explore and synthesize the governance literature with the objective of identifying the key elements and dimensions of governance.
Design/methodology/approach - Drawing on the two "parent" bodies of literature originating in the political sciences and corporate management fields of study, the paper provides a review and synthesis of the governance concept with the objective of identifying the primary elements and factors that have been employed in studies of governance to date.
Findings - A review of 53 published governance studies identified 40 separate dimensions of governance. From this review, the six most frequently included governance dimensions were: accountability, transparency, involvement, structure, effectiveness and power.
Originality/value - A synthesis of the governance literature has not been undertaken to date, either in the tourism literature or in other fields of study, and in doing so the authors provide a basis for tourism researchers to draw on a set of comparable conceptual dimensions in future research. Comparable dimensions which can be replicated and tested in empirical research will add additional depth and rigor to studies in this field.