Ethics in commercial hospitality

Poulston, JM
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University of Queensland

Anecdotally, hospitality has a reputation for poor ethical standards, and it is anticipated that this research will provide a basis for that reputation. Several themes are being explored, such as the causes of poor ethical standards in hospitality, and in particular, management’s role in encouraging and preserving these standards. Unethical behaviour in hospitality is investigated, in order to measure tolerance according to different demographic attributes. It is hypothesised that hospitality managers both passively and actively support unethical behaviour, by providing inadequate financial, physical and human resources to meet profit targets by ethical means. Managers may be aware of unacceptable behaviour, but do not take preventative action, perhaps because the behaviour helps them meet short term goals. Preliminary research included a review of literature relating to moral philosophy, business and hospitality ethics, and the origins of hospitality. Studies influencing the direction of the research are reviewed in this paper, with an outline of the research design and some preliminary results. This study is expected to make a significant contribution to improving ethical standards in hospitality workplaces by identifying the existence and scope of ethical problems, as well as their major causes. Staff and managers have conflicting views about what is fair and unfair, and by identifying these, a common understanding can be established. The ability to predict functional areas in which ethical problems will occur, as well as the kinds of incidents likely to generate unethical behaviour, is likely to help hospitality managers incorporate preventative techniques into training programmes. Furthermore, if unethical behaviour is tolerated in specific areas of hospitality, it is possible that causes of unwanted behaviour can be identified and minimised.

CAUTHE 2004: Creating Tourism Knowledge, Brisbane, Australia, 2004-02-10 - 2004-02-13, pages 456 - 458
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