Long Hospitality Careers - a Contradiction in Terms?

Mooney, SK
Harris, C
Ryan, I
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Journal Article
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore why workers remain in long hospitality careers and to challenge the frequent portrayal of careers in the sector as temporary and unsatisfactory.

Design/methodology/approach The study took an interpretative social constructionist approach. Methods used were memory-work, semi-structured interviews and intersectional analysis.

Findings A key finding in this study is that career longevity in hospitality is not solely dependent on career progression. Strong social connection, a professional self-identity and complex interesting work contribute to long careers.

Research limitations/implications The study contributes detailed empirical knowledge about hospitality career paths in New Zealand. Conclusions should be generalised outside the specific context with caution.

Practical implications The findings that hospitality jobs can be complex and satisfying at all hierarchical ranks hold practical implications for Human Resource Managers in the service sector. To increase career longevity, hospitality employers should improve induction and socialisation processes and recognise their employees’ professional identity.

Social implications This paper significantly extends the notion of belonging and social connection in service work. “Social connection” is distinctly different from social and networking career competencies. Strong social connection is created by a fusion of complex social relationships with managers, co-workers and guests, ultimately creating the sense of a respected professional identity and satisfying career.

Originality/value The contemporary concept of a successful hospitality career is associated with an upwards career trajectory; however, this paper suggests that at the lower hierarchical levels of service work, many individuals enjoy complex satisfying careers with no desire for further advancement.

Professional identity; Career longevity; Hospitality careers; Induction and socialization; Social connection; Social relationships in service work
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 28 No. 11, pp. 2589-2608. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-04-2015-0206
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Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2016. Authors retain the right to place his/her pre-publication version of the work on a personal website or institutional repository for non commercial purposes. The definitive version was published in (see Citation). The original publication is available at www.emeraldinsight.com (see Publisher’s Version).