Praeesse in hospitio: an investigation into leadership styles of hotel managers

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Grow, Heath Scott (2014) Praeesse in hospitio: an investigation into leadership styles of hotel managers. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The aim of this study was to determine the relationships between socio-demographic variables, promotion and appropriate leadership style in the hospitality industry in China and Australia. In doing so it responds to the Australian Government’s recent review of hospitality training and the industry’s recognition of the need for strong, high-calibre leadership in an industry that is a major contributor to GDP. Investigation of leadership styles in China and Australia is particularly relevant in the context of a new free trade agreement between the two countries and the potential for growth in the tourism sector. The current study is a transnational, cross-cultural investigation of the relationship between leaders’ socio-demographic characteristics, leadership style, and their subsequent career progression in the hospitality industry in Australia and China. A quantitative method (i.e. a survey of four- and five-star internationally branded hotels) and positivist approach were taken to collect and analyse the data. A two-part questionnaire utilising the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire was distributed in English in Australia and translated into Chinese for distribution in China. The sample of 1,000 participants consisted of 500 from each country. A suite of differential statistics were employed to identify differences between cohorts based upon; age, level of education, ethnicity, family composition, rank, relationship status and sex. Data filtering was undertaken to quarantine out age, rank and sex differences to further assess three key homogenised cohorts of managers in both Australia and China. The study, as the first of its kind in a hospitality context, makes numerous contributions to the existing knowledge base. First, it provided a comprehensive and critical analysis of the development of leadership theory and its inadequate application in the hospitality industry. Second, it identified the effect of leaders’ socio-demographic attributes on the factors in the Full Range Leadership Model. Third, the impact of leadership style on career outcomes were investigated. Finally, it identified differences, and possible explanations for them, between Chinese and Australian leaders and between male and female leadership styles. The study concluded that leadership remains a complex issue, and contrary to previous research, contingent reward styles appeared to be preferred as the best approach to leadership in a hospitality setting, in both Australia and China. The transactional element of Contingent Reward showed a very strong correlation with transformational leadership styles reinforcing emerging research and affirming its role as a positive aspect of modern hospitality management. The findings identified that there were more similarities between males and females than differences. However, Australian males and females were more transformational than their Chinese counterparts. In light of the findings, Australians have gained a deeper understanding of how Chinese approach leadership. This is of benefit to Australia in terms of becoming more ‘China literate’ and, therefore, job-mobile – two key areas of focus in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s ‘Vision 2025: China strategy’. From a Chinese perspective, the research provides an opportunity for potential migrants and hospitality and tourism investors alike to understand the differences between China and Australia in terms of leadership and how this may affect working relationships. The research has produced key insights for the academic community, leaders and managers working in hotels and the hospitality industry. For the academic community, it raises questions about the type of training that can best equip graduates to respond to the needs of the industry. For industry, it highlights the determinants of desirable leadership practices in the context of growing convergence of hospitality management education and practice across national boundaries as the operations and standards of transnational corporations become universally accepted.

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Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > FOR Classification > 1504 Services
Current > Division/Research > College of Law and Justice
Keywords Australia, career, China, Contingent Reward, cross-cultural, hospitality, leadership, socio-demographic, transactional, transformational
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