Leadership Competencies of Hotel Frontline Managers and Their Effects on Subordinates: A Comparative Study of New Zealand and Vietnam
Nguyen, Le Vinh
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In the hospitality industry, high turnover has been a persistent issue. Some research has indicated that incompetent leadership is one of the major reasons and that general leadership theories may be inadequate in studying this industry. Since organisations are diverse, research has also suggested that enacting and developing leadership can be unique in each type of organisation. Hence, a specific leadership approach may be required. Having been developed and updated as an industry-specific model, the hospitality leadership competency model (HLCM) provides a theoretically driven, although seldom empirically tested, model of leadership. Specifically, little is known about the leadership competencies of hotel frontline managers, as perceived from the crucial, yet underexplored viewpoint of their subordinates, and the influence of these competencies on the attitudes and behaviours of subordinates. In addition to the dearth of empirical testing of this leadership model, there are also calls in the literature for the need for cross-cultural examination. New Zealand and Vietnam offer very contrasting contexts and cultures, and thus different hospitality leadership practices and influences may apply in these countries. Consequently, a study investigating the impacts of leadership competencies on job outcomes, especially the determinants of turnover in hotels across the two countries, will address these gaps and provide useful implications for leadership practice and development in the industry. This thesis aims at understanding leadership competencies of hotel frontline managers and their effects on several outcomes, including leader effectiveness, job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and turnover intentions. Using two samples of hotel frontline employees (n= 109 from New Zealand and n= 236 from Vietnam) who have reported their perceptions of leadership competencies and job outcomes, this present study explores the relationships among those competencies and outcome variables. Furthermore, the study tests several mediation and moderated mediation mechanisms to enhance understanding of potentially complex relationships. First, the findings showed strong relationships between leadership competencies and those outcome variables across the two countries. Second, the study found several mediation effects and moderated mediation effects that elucidated the potential causal mechanisms underlying their relationships. Third, the study compared the two samples and found some similar patterns, as well as some distinct differences, presented in the effects of several dominant leadership competencies on turnover intentions and organisational commitment, enhancing the cross-cultural value of the HLCM. Finally, to explore potential new developments to the HLCM, the study used a sample of 149 hotel employees in New Zealand and found support for the proposition that family supportive supervisor behaviours could be a necessary leadership competency to be added to the pool of competencies. Overall, this study found evidence that validates the HLCM and supports the model being utilised with more confidence. Ultimately, the thesis contributes to the advancement of the HLCM and supports its common utilisation, as an alternative model to general leadership theories, for leadership practice and development in hospitality schools and organisations. The thesis also clarifies that the complexity and broad meaning of leadership, which is unlikely to be captured adequately by a one-size-fits-all or general theory, may need to be described by multiple, specific theories, with the HLCM being one of them. The thesis offers specific implications for hospitality organisations, managers, and students.