A critical consideration of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology for tourism studies

Yana Wengel, Alison J. McIntosh, Cheryl Cockburn-Wootten

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In recent decade tourism researches turned their attention to creative qualitative methodologies to gain the deeper understandings of tourism phenomena. Despite the considerable body of research focusing on creative methodologies there is a need to challenge and creatively disrupt conventional methodological approaches as they are criticised for their inability to be participant driven, capture the co-construction of research context or to address the impact of wider social dynamics to knowledge creation in tourism studies. Based on our research focused on host–guests experiences participating in the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) programme in New Zealand we provide a critical consideration of LEGO ® SERIOUS PLAY ® for tourism studies. LEGO ® SERIOUS PLAY ® is a communication tool aimed at developing creative thinking through building metaphors around identities and experiences using LEGO ® bricks. To demonstrate how the method can be used in tourism studies, we draw on examples from three LEGO ® SERIOUS PLAY ® workshops to illustrate the benefits and challenges of this methodological approach. LEGO ® SERIOUS PLAY ® offered a metaphorical way for participants to construct creative artefacts and explain their ideal WWOOFing experience, representing sometimes complex, entrenched and emotional issues, and relationships that may have been difficult to express via traditional methods. The method enables participant driven, co-production of knowledge in a playful, free-flowing way to foster creative thinking, meanings and possible solutions. The method helps participants creatively communicate complex and sensitive issues, especially around their relationships–to objects, landscapes, people and identities–aspects that may otherwise be silenced by traditional research methods. As a novel method LEGO ® SERIOUS PLAY ® provides opportunities for researchers who want to gain a deeper understanding of the social dimensions of tourism, to co-create spaces for knowledge exchange and develop an in-depth understanding of socially constructed relationships and realities.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalTourism Geographies
Early online date7 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jun 2019


  • creative methodology
  • host-guests’ experience
  • constructionism
  • World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
  • volunteer tourism

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