National Culture and Management: the Greek luxury hotel GMs’ case

Giousmpasoglou, Charalampos and Stavrakis, Dimitrios (2011) National Culture and Management: the Greek luxury hotel GMs’ case. In: The 2011 Athens Tourism Symposium, an International Scientific Congress on Current Trends in Tourism Management and Tourism Policy, 2-3 February, Athens.

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Abstract

This paper explores the interplay between managerial work and national culture. More specifically it investigates General Managers’ (GMs) work in Greek luxury (4 and 5*) hotels from a contextual perspective, focused in national culture.
The wider context of the discussion in this paper revolves around the ‘global-local’ question from an international hospitality industry perspective. During the second half of the twentieth century, the idea for the creation of a truly global management cohort found warm support from north American multinational companies who experienced a rapid pace of internationalisation in the past four decades. Hospitality and tourism were among the first internationalised industries in the aftermath of World War Two (Nickson, 1998; Nickson and Warhust, 2001). The dominant Anglo-Saxon view for universal management practices through the employment of ‘best practices’ in international hotel operators, has been challenged since the advent of cross-cultural management and international human resources management (IHRM) theorists in the early 1980s. Those theorists believe that it is difficult to imagine that a single practice or set of practices would emerge as ‘best’ in any sense of the word, particularly in globalised organisations (Thomas, 2008). Thus, the dynamic and complex nature of the management function in global hospitality business today and the realisation that what works effectively in one country may not be as efficient in another, has led management scholars and practicing managers in continuous efforts to enhance their understanding of this context and its effects on international (hotel) managers.
This paper focuses in the Greek context since the country is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Today the hospitality and tourism sector in Greece contributes approximately 15 % of the National Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) ranking third in the E.U. after Spain (18.38 %) and Portugal (15.40 %) according to the W.T.T.C. (2010). The hospitality and tourism sector occupies in total eight hundred eight thousand employees, 18% of the country’s entire labour force (SETE, 2003). The authors of this paper argue that managerial work in Greek luxury hotels cannot be unaffected from the strong national context, despite the great pressures for standardisation and homogenisation with the international hospitality industry standards. The existing literature indicates that the Greek context influences managerial work to a certain degree (Bourantas and Papadakis,1996; Makridakis et al. 1997; Papalexandris and Nikandrou, 2000). The high rates of “in-group-collectivism” (Hofstede, 1980/1991; Tromernaars, 1993; Javidan and House, 2001), the values of ‘filotimo’ (Triandis et al. 1968; Broome, 1996), Trust (Fukuyama, 1995) and Humanism (Lessem and Neubauer, 1994; Hampden-Turner and Trompernaars, 1994) are characteristics that differentiate Greek GMs’ behaviour comparing to the so called ‘western’ management style in international hotels. This context also influences the way GMs perform their roles (Mintzberg, 1973 / 1994) and the competencies framework (Dulewicz and Herbert, 1991/1999) required to perform these roles.
A qualitative research was conducted in 16 luxury (4 & 5*) city and resort hotels in four popular destinations: Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete and Rhodes. In total 32 GMs and their assistants participated in this country case study. The research tool included in-depth semi-structured interviews, the employment of a Personal Competencies Framework (PCF) questionnaire, non participant observations and collection of company documents related to managerial work. All data were triangulated in order to enhance the validity and reliability of this study.

This research’s findings indicated that the ‘base requirements’ of managerial work in Greek luxury hotels appear to be similar and compatible with the international industry standards. What actually changes is the level of formality exercised in managerial and HRM practices. A key theme that emerges from this study is the critical role of the hotel’s ownership status. Thus, local companies (family and local chain hotels) employ a great number of managerial and HRM practices that incorporate a high level of informality, meaning the absence of written rules and procedures. On the other hand, Greek national chains and MNCs demonstrate a high level of formality, regulated by written policies and rules. The Greek context influences the hotel managers’ conceptions of work roles and competencies to a great extent in family and local hotel chains, and to a moderate extent to Greek national chains. A handful (less than ten in Greece) of managed MNC hotel chains do not seem to be influenced by the Greek context; on the other hand franchised MNCs are managed in the same manner as national Greek hotel chains. Overall, the influence of the Greek context was evident to a certain degree, in all Greek owned hotels. Based on the research findings, three distinctive profiles of luxury hotel GMs where identified: the ‘native’ GM; the ‘Glocal’ GM; and the ‘Greek Global’ GM. As a concluding point it can be argued that both divergence and convergence contextual forces coexist and shape the GMs’ work in Greek luxury hotels. Further research is needed to fully understand and appreciate the effects of those forces in GMs’ work.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Hospitality and tourism
Depositing User: Babis Giousmpasoglou
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2016 17:12
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2016 13:34
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1548

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