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Dan McCole - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Dan McCole

Associate Professor | Michigan State University


An expert on tourism, wine tourism, and social entrepreneurship





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Faculty conversations: Dan McCole



Dan McCole’s teaching, research and outreach focus on the role of natural resource and agricultural-based tourism in contributing to community sustainability. His work combines the foundations and principles of business and management systems with a deep understanding of the role leisure in peoples’ lives. As a social scientist, Dan brings together business fields of study (marketing, human resources, organizational development, finance and operations) with other social sciences related to the field of leisure (e.g., psychology, sociology and economics). Further, he uses research methods and analysis to bring a scientific approach to solving problems related to the development and management of tourism and recreation organizations. Some of his recent work involves wine tourism's role in rural community sustainability.

Industry Expertise (3)

Writing and Editing


Floriculture and Horticulture

Areas of Expertise (5)

Social Entrepreneruship

Wine Tourism


Sustainable Tourism

Social Enterprise

Education (3)

University of Minnesota: Ph.D.

Michigan State University: M.B.A.

University of Massachusetts: B.A.

News (2)

Michigan’s Tourism Industry Continues Strong Performance

MSU Today  online


According to Dan McCole, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability, MSU is forecasting that Michigan’s tourism industry will continue these positive trends in 2016, despite slightly weaker economic indicators compared to last year. He predicts a 3 percent increase in tourism prices and a 5 percent increase in tourism spending. [...]

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Michigan injects politics into tourism slogan

Marketplace  online


“The Pure Michigan campaign really strikes a chord with people,” says Michigan State University tourism professor Dan McCole, who has seen people tear up watching the ads. [...]

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Journal Articles (5)

Understanding tourists' itineraries in emerging rural tourism regions: the application of paper-based itinerary mapping methodology to a wine tourism region in Michigan

Current Issues in Tourism

Leanna Popp and Dan McCole

2015 In recent years, many rural areas have turned to tourism as a way of reviving their communities. One challenge to such efforts is that community leaders in these areas often have limited experience with tourism and consequently lack the knowledge and resources to best facilitate sustainable tourism initiatives. Moreover, an influx of tourists to an area puts new demands on infrastructure. Information about tourists' itineraries can help communities to address new challenges that result from tourism, however using emerging technologies such as GPS and Internet-based map surveys can be expensive and require expertise many rural tourism planners do not have. Paper-based itinerary mapping methodology can be a cost effective way of providing local officials, tourism planners, and businesses with important information to inform decisions about how to invest limited resources. This study applies paper-based itinerary mapping to an emerging wine tourism area in a rural county in the US state of Michigan. Because it involves tourists travelling from place to place within a region, wine tourism is particularly well-suited for itinerary mapping. Results provide specific recommendations to local officials, tourism planners, and businesses. Moreover, the study offers an example to researchers interested in conducting studies that use paper-based itinerary mapping methodology.

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Integrating Facebook into the College Classroom: Student Perceptions and Recommendations for Faculty

NACTA Journal

Dan McCole, Michael Everett and Jennifer Rivera

2014 This paper describes how Facebook was integrated into a university course to help students better engage with course material, each other and the instructor. The Groups feature of Facebook allowed students and the instructor to interact and share information with one another on Facebook without having to “friend” each other, allowing each person to maintain privacy over his/her Facebook content. Researchers tracked Facebook activity throughout the semester and conducted a survey with students to better understand their Facebook behavior and perceptions about the use of Facebook as part of the course. The use of Facebook was optional for students and an alternative for another assignment. Fifty-two of 60 (87%) students chose the Facebook option. Over the course of the semester, students wrote 283 unique posts related to course content, and these generated 840 comments. Findings from the survey showed that many students thought the Facebook Group made a positive impact on their understanding of course concepts, their overall performance and their enjoyment of the course. Moreover, most thought the Facebook Group had a positive impact on their relationship with other students and the professor. Recommendations are provided for faculty interested in using Facebook in the college classroom.

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Understanding motivations of potential partners to develop a public outdoor recreation center in an urban area

Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

Christine Carmichaela, Dan McColeb

2014 Participation in traditional outdoor activities has declined in recent decades, causing concern for agencies involved in managing areas where citizens can pursue these activities. With limited resources to address this complex challenge, collaboration among several stakeholders seems to provide a win–win solution. An outdoor center that offers activities such as fishing, hunting, trapping and canoeing is one collaborative option. The purpose of this study is to better understand the motivations of organizations to collaborate in the development and operation of an outdoor center in the U.S. state of Michigan. Expectancy theory and social exchange theory provided a unique approach to understanding potential partners׳ expectations regarding positive outcomes and costs of collaboration. Through semi-structured interviews with potential partners, researchers found that a prevalent expected benefit of collaboration is the presence of a venue near diverse, urban populations at which to conduct outdoor programming. In addition, patterns emerged in the anticipated benefits from (and contributions to) the partnership based on the types of organizations interviewed. Insights into organizations׳ motivations to collaborate, based on these two theoretical frameworks, will aid recreation providers in creating appropriate selection criteria for partners and strategies for engaging them in collaborative projects to enhance outdoor recreation participation.

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Understanding Collaboration Among Farmers and Farmers' Market Managers in Southeast Michigan (USA)

Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

Dan McCole and Crystal L. Miller

2014 The growth in local food systems has resulted in many benefits for communities. In addition to meeting growing consumer demand, local food systems make significant positive contributions to economies, communities, and the natural environment. However, most local food systems are grassroots efforts and rely on stakeholders motivated to collaborate with each other in order to be successful. Most of the parties involved in these collaborations have very limited resources and therefore must choose carefully the collaborative initiatives in which they will invest their time and money. Too frequently collaborative initiatives are doomed to failure because the required players lack the motivation to participate at levels needed for success. Such failures can damage the overall culture of collaboration within a region. This study aims to address the lack of research into local food system collaboration by exploring the suitability of expectancy theory to understand the factors that motivate farmers and farmers' market managers to collaborate in southeast Michigan. A survey instrument was distributed to groups of farmers and farmers' market managers to measure their beliefs about collaboration's ability to generate positive outcomes as well as each group's perceived value of those outcomes. Comparisons were made between the two groups to better understand the types of collaborative initiatives that would serve the needs of both groups, as well as the initiatives that generate differing levels of motivation within each group. Results show that farmers and farmers' market managers are motivated to collaborate differently. Implications are provided for local food system players, policy-makers, and researchers.

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The Link between Sense of Community and Retention

Journal of Travel Research

Dan McCole

2013 High year-to-year retention of seasonal employees can be a source of competitive advantage for tourism organizations. Past studies of seasonal employee retention have examined the issue from the perspective of job satisfaction. However, many tourism jobs have similar responsibilities from organization to organization suggesting another construct might also affect employee retention. The purpose of this study was to examine retention through the lens of employee sense of community (SOC) toward the tourism organization. Significant differences were found in SOC levels between those who returned to work at resorts and those who did not. Moreover, a logistic regression model showed SOC to be a good predictor of retention. Like in previous studies, factors that impact retention appear to be different for first year employees than experienced ones. However, the results suggest that somewhat different approaches for improving retention should be taken than the recommendations from past studies of seasonal employee retention.

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