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Dealing with poor working conditions in tourism – from theory to practice. Dr Andreas Walmsley Is there a problem?.

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dealing with poor working conditions in tourism from theory to practice

Dealing with poor working conditions in tourism – from theory to practice

Dr Andreas Walmsley

is there a problem
Is there a problem?

An early study (Tomoda, 1983) with reference to Japan concluded that “the working conditions in the HRC (hotel, restaurant and catering) sector as a whole compared with other sectors can be summarised as unsatisfactory or even deplorable”.

is there a problem1
Is there a problem?
  • So, has anything changed?
    • Baum (2007) recently reviewed the state of human resources in tourism and comes to the same conclusions as Tomoda in 1983, as does a report on policies and trends in tourism compiled by the OECD (2012).
    • The WTTC recently commissioned a report into graduate perceptions of career opportunities in the sector for fear of missing out on talent (WTTC, 2013).
    • “The predominance of on-call, casual, temporary, seasonal and part-time employment is related to insecurity, comparatively low pay…job instability, limited career opportunity, a high level of subcontracting and outsourcing, and a high turnover rate.” (ILO, 2010)
is there a problem2
Is there a problem?
  • Tourism Concern’s All Inclusive Report (launched only last week):

“Our findings reveal that the tourist sector in the countries studied is characterised by:

  • Precarious work
  • Low wages
  • Long working hours
  • Unequal opportunity”

“While we understand that these problems exist in a range of hotels, and are the result of inadequate labour law, minimal or no labour inspection, extensive subcontracting and low levels of union density, the impacts are greatest in all inclusive hotels.”

is there a problem3
Is there a problem?
  • Ok, so the picture is anything from rosy…but
  • Questions about the nature of the business-society relationship are increasingly being asked
  • Exemplary employers do, of course, exist
  • It is certainly not all doom and gloom!
how to tackle the issue
How to tackle the issue

Creating a climate for change

  • Awareness and behaviour change
  • Short term: draw on existing theory and practice outside tourism (e.g. Change Management)
    • Kotter’s 8 step change model
      • Increase sense of urgency
      • Building the guiding team
      • Creating the right vision
how to tackle the issue1
How to tackle the issue

When managers, including CEOs, justify their actions by pleading powerlessness in the face of external forces, it is to the dehumanization of practice that they resort. When they claim that competition or capital markets are relentless in their demands, and that individual companies and managers have no scope for choices, it is on the strength of the false premise of determinism that they free themselves from any sense of moral or ethical responsibility for their actions. (Ghoshal, 2005: 79)

  • Buy-in needs to come from the top
    • Not everyone’s views will change immediately
how to tackle the issue2
How to tackle the issue

In particular, we note that to generate the innovativeness and creativity required to develop a sustainable business over the long term, an organization must progressively become a site for dialogue and collaboration. Therefore, CSR-related values must become deeply integrated into the management philosophy and organizational culture (Maon et al. 2010:35)

  • Continued engagement between stakeholders is called for
    • Social dialogue (employees, employers, governments...and others?)
    • Everyone gains
how to tackle the issue3
How to tackle the issue
  • Educating the next generation of leaders
    • Invest in education in the areas of responsibility/business ethics/sustainability
    • Education for Sustainable Development
        • Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Values necessary to shape a sustainable future (UNESCO)
    • Holistic Pedagogy
      • Aims: wisdom, compassion, wholeness (see for example Jack Miller’s work in this area)
in sum
In sum:
  • Continue to work with industry/work ‘in the field’ (drawing on Ghoshal)
    • A commitment to field research, built on a profound respect for practitioners
    • Engagement and ongoing dialogue with practitioners
    • But: do maintain academic respectability by combining rigour with relevance
  • Continue to educate for responsible tourism/responsible citizens
    • Admittedly not always easy in a climate where the economic imperative prevails