Managers’ perspectives of environmentally sustainable policies and practices in the Australian hotel industry

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Khatter, Ajay (2020) Managers’ perspectives of environmentally sustainable policies and practices in the Australian hotel industry. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The impact of the hotel industry on the world environment has been widespread. It is a major industry that consumes a significant amount of natural resources and energy in the course of providing hospitality for its guests. For a hotel manager, developing policies and strategies for environmental sustainability can be challenging in the first instance, but actually implementing these policies is often even more difficult because managers of these businesses have to concurrently manage and align social, economic and environmental outcomes; the three dimensions that comprise sustainable performance (Epstein & Buhovac, 2014). As hotel management are at the forefront of implementing environmentally sustainable policies and practices (ESPPs), the focus of this research has been on the Australian hotel industry and its managers’ perspectives on ESPPs and the influence of their stakeholders. Applying stakeholder theory has contributed to an understanding of how organisations, including hotels, behave, especially in a rapidly changing and dynamic business climate where environmental issues are becoming increasingly prominent. There is an inherent need to explore and connect the positive links that exist between stakeholder interests. However, there is also an opportunity to expand the scope of stakeholder theory to offer a broader purpose in creating equal value for all stakeholders and the benefit of society and the environment. This focus requires a shift from short-term economic benefits to the broader benefits to society and the environment. A two-phase process was undertaken in order to obtain data on environmental sustainability in Australian hotels and to engage with the research questions. The first phase of the research entailed a review of hotel websites in order to gain a preliminary understanding of the scope and extent of ESPPs adopted by hotels. The second phase involved the conduct of in-depth, face-to-face interviews with selected hotel managers identified in the first phase of the preliminary investigation as having an influence on hotel policies and procedures. This research found that independent and Australian chain affiliated hotels investigated in this study do not have formal environmental policies, either at a corporate or individual hotel level. This is in contrast to international chain affiliated hotels which do have formal policies on environmental sustainability. However, these policies are developed and formulated overseas at a corporate office level and passed down to individual hotels in Australia to be implemented. Major barriers to environmental sustainability are time, financial resources, a lack of suitable enablement resources and stakeholder owners and shareholders of hotels. The major drivers for environmental sustainability are the support of owners and shareholders, financial benefits, marketing leverage, guest preferences and environmental awareness. The major stakeholders influencing ESPPs of hotels are their owners and shareholders, their head or corporate office, senior management and hotel guests. Owners and shareholders have the most significant influence on policies and practices as they have a financial interest in the hotel and simply put, they are in business to make a profit. The current focus areas for environmental sustainability are water management, energy and recycling. Hotels intend to address them with increased prominence moving forward. The research responses demonstrate a need for more innovative approaches if the hotel industry is to make a significant contribution to environmental sustainability. Analysing the focus areas of environmentally sustainable practices in the future, other than discussion on building sustainable hotels from the ground up, suggests that little thought has been given to other innovative and sustainable practices that can be implemented. Establishing commitment to the notion of environmental sustainability is the principal step a hotel organisation or independent hotel should embark upon in order to establish a statement of purpose or policy relating to environmental sustainability. Hotel managers working at a property level should be involved with formulation of ESPPs. Their involvement in the creation of policy makes it easier to implement environmentally sustainable practices as they will have developed a better understanding of the foundation of environmental policies. This benefits all stakeholders as well as the environment. Developing and strengthening the relationship amongst stakeholders is one of the most significant forces that can drive successful environmental initiatives and practices.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Business
Keywords hotels; hotel industry; hotel manager; environmental sustainability; policy; environmentally sustainable policies; Australia; stakeholders; stakeholder theory; sustainability; Melbourne; drivers; barriers; websites; interviews
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