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Understanding the Mental Models of Employers in the Boutique Accommodation Industry in Tonga
Fifita, Jessica Elizabeth Atarmon
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Human resource management (HRM) has been traditionally viewed as an administrative function and a personnel management through policies and practices (Ulrich, Brockbank, Johnson, Sandholts, & Younger, 2008). Contrasting traditional views on HRM, in this present day and age, HRM has been seen as an asset and support function that contributes to an organisation’s overall performance and achievements (Chopra, 2017). Conducting a research on mental models is “fundamentally concerned with understanding human knowledge about the world” (Gentner & Stevens, 2014, p. 1). It is important to understand the mental models of different employers as it develops an insight into their different HRM processes, revealing their individual knowledge and comprehension of how they came about their current HRM processes. Their individual knowledge and understanding of the world is where they stimulated their individual HRM processes and it also allows insight to how they also improved and morphed their initial mental models of their business to reflect their current business situation. The understanding of the mental models that are used in human resource management by managers, business owners, and employers is significant to establish the link between the importance of people management as a strategy towards organisational development and successful businesses. The need to understand boutique accommodation industries as opposed to larger corporate hotel businesses is because the larger franchise hotels in Tonga are internationally owned and is likely to have strict policies on recruitment, whereas, micro businesses may have different processes. Limited research in pacific nations support these assertions. A study by Naidu and Chand (2014) is a pioneering research that comparatively analyses the best HRM practices used by hotels in Tonga and Samoa which strongly influenced the motive of this research to make effort in understanding the mental models of employers in the hotel business in Tonga. This research purposes to serve as an exploration that includes an insight to various literature reviews on the current knowledge of human resources management and employers’ mental models. The limited but previous works spanning academic articles, journals, research studies, books and more, shall be used to validate the position that shall be taken by the researcher when tackling the current topic of inquiry. The findings of this paper will be based on current literature reviews and the study taken through interviews. The final purpose of this research is to look at understanding mental models of employers in hotel industries in Tonga and the HRM practices within hotels in Tonga. It focuses on employers’ main idea of an employee in Tonga, how they searched and recruited employees and how they retained their employees. Contrary to westernised ideals in employing talent with some experience, skill or knowledge, key findings that were evident when conducting this research were that hotel employers in Tonga recruited employees based on individual virtues such as trust or commitment. Furthermore, a recurring evidence among hotel employers in Tonga was through providing a source of attachment (Baron, Burton & Hannan, 1999) within their hotel business. The contribution of participants’ in this research will use pseudonyms to protect the privacy of the participant and their business and their information will create a mental model within the hotel businesses in Tonga. This study contributes to a wide gap in current literature of HRM in accommodation in Tonga and generally, the South Pacific. Theoretically, the findings of this study hopes to contribute to ongoing discussions or potential interest of further research into the validity of the best HRM practices in Tongan businesses within the accommodation industry through understanding employers mental models.