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International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

Hotel managers' career strategies for success
Christos Akrivos Adele Ladkin Panayiotis Reklitis

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Christos Akrivos Adele Ladkin Panayiotis Reklitis, (2007),"Hotel managers' career strategies for success",
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 19 Iss 2 pp. 107 - 119
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Originality/value – This paper builds on the knowledge of careers strategies used for career success. Hotels. Greece Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore career strategies used by Greek hotel managers in order to advance their careers successfully. Greece 107 Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) Adele Ladkin ICTHR. School of Services Management. and Panayiotis Reklitis Department of Business Administration. Poole. An understanding of the strategies used in order to develop a successful career can help individuals choose the best way to achieve promotion to the top of a company’s hierarchy (Aryee et al. 2. mobility. The least commonly used ones relate to family contacts.. Athens.1108/09596110710729229 . Within a specific professional environment. Athens Technological Institution. data on career strategies were collected using a postal questionnaire. and Department of Business Administration. job search techniques and pay. training and retention of managers in the hotel industry.The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www. Greeece Paper type Research paper Introduction Career success can be viewed as a means to fulfill a person’s needs and desires through achievements. UK. The most commonly used are in relation to career opportunities. Design/methodology/approach – Using a case study sample of 65 hotel general managers working in deluxe hotels in Greece. Career development. interpersonal relations and handling diverse situations. 1994). 19 No. The practical meaning of this knowledge or information is important for both companies and individuals as it enables companies to have the ability to plan more International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management Vol.com/0959-6119. Keywords Careers. Greek Open University. accomplishment and power acquisition (Lau and Shaffer.htm Hotel managers’ career strategies for success Career strategies for success Christos Akrivos Department of Tourism Management. Practical implications – The strategies are discussed in terms of recruitment. 1994). Findings – It is revealed that the managers use a range of different strategies in order to advance their careers. skills. 2002). 2007 pp. Patras Technological Institution. 107-119 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0959-6119 DOI 10. 1999). it is useful for career development to identify the specific individual or environmental characteristics and requirements that lead different people to career success in different industries or organizational structures (Reklitis and Trivelas. Patras. Career success and career strategies are elements within the broad tradition of career theory (Riley and Ladkin. Bournemouth University. Managers.emeraldinsight.

Results are provided in the areas of career strategies used by the hotel managers. Career success and strategies of CEOs Because of the perceived and actual importune of a CEO’s job. 1988. 1994). 2000). 2004). Poole et al. Ellis and Heneman.. 1990. and conclusions outlining the relevance of the findings for industry are discussed. Greece (Akrivos. including the prevailing theories in general on leadership characteristics. 1996). followed by a presentation on the results of the survey. Judge et al. there is a wealth of research that has explored career success and career strategies that can help to achieve success for CEOs. and individuals can develop career strategies that will offer them greater career success in terms of job position. in the UK (Corcoran and Johnson. Moreover. This research aims to discover which career strategies have lead to career success for managers in the Greek hotel industry. the USA (Nebel et al. and individuals have the possibility to develop these career strategies that would make them successful in their career in terms of job position. the above research findings are tested in Greece. it has an established infrastructure (hotels. 1999). Ladkin and Riley. The research methodology for the research is explained.2 Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) 108 effectively the systems of staff training and development. This is useful for both individuals and organizations as organizations have the ability to design more effective staff development systems. First. travel agencies etc. much including a discussion of career strategies. and in Egypt (Hannan et al.) and approximately 25 percent of its population is employed directly or indirectly in the tourism sector (Pavlopoulos. The knowledge of what someone has to do in order to achieve career success assists individuals to follow the appropriate career strategies during their career development (Aryee et al. a discussion of career success and career strategies in relation to chief executive officers (CEOs) is presented as a background to the present research. 2002) identifies which parameters influence career success of people with different demographical characteristics in different organizational contexts.. In order to achieve its aims.. 1976. 1990). At the individual level career success is related to acquisition of wealth and power along with personal satisfaction (Gattiker and Larwood. Importantly. 1993). Previous research has explored profiles and general characteristics of hotel managers. the human resource asset employed in this industry is supported by a continuous increasing number of tourism schools which offer a variety of studies at all levels. The study of the career path in a contingency model (Reklitis and Trivelas. The rationale for undertaking this research is to highlight elements of managerial career strategies both in general terms and in relation to careers of hotel managers. no research to date has been undertaken in the Greek context.. Korea (Kim. The present research integrates the previous studies. . 1995). the paper is organized in the following way. Career success and strategies specific to hotel managers are then outlined. Mauritius (Ladkin and Juwaheer. For example. Croatia (Sehanovic et al. as there are parallels in the roles and responsibilities between these occupations. 2003). which is a major employer. 1990). satisfaction and salary (Ellis and Heneman. Despite the wealth of research into the careers of hotel managers. The value of exploring the Greek situation is that as a developed international tourist destination. 2000). 1994..IJCHM 19. 1995.

1984 cited in Ashcraft. The CEO is legally responsible for the company. Wang and Gordon. planning. The person must have the ability to mach appropriately the opportunities and threats of the firm’s environment (Olsen et al.. CEO career success depends on the consistency and the stability of the performance of a person. the job of an hotel general manager is seen as an important one. Samuel et al. The nomination of a person as a CEO of an organization is one of the most important decisions an organization must take. and one that is crucial to the success of the hotel organization. In studying the attitudes and predispositions of a person. as they relate to career success is another common theme. Previous research into career success of manages has identified a number of different themes. in the control and direction of the company towards goal achievement (Brady and Helmich. 1994). Personality traits. The right strategies and tactics will promote individuals to the top of a company’s hierarchy. and it is the CEO who defines the core concept of an organization (Finkelstein and Hambrick. specific career success strategies have been considered in previous research.(1994). 1991 cited in Perrone. Attitudes and predispositions of a person as determinants of career success have been discussed by Lent et al. 1990). the study of the personality characteristics that make a successful manager have been identified by Wilson (1998) and Worsfold (1989a. their abilities. The CEO is the person that is exclusively responsible for the company’s decisions about strategy formulation. b). their knowledge and their education (O’Reilly and Chatman.. (1994). Berenbeim (1995) highlights the characteristics of the CEOs of a number of companies located in five different countries. the ability to match appropriately the opportunities and threats of the firm’s environment by Olsen et al. 2001. 2001. and is crucial to the success of an organization. In the tourism industry. Previous research indicates that the characteristics that make a successful manager include some personality Career strategies for success 109 .. Contented managers are instrumental in the success of an organization. Winfield.Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) satisfaction and salary (Ellis and Heneman. who have designed a mechanism though which it is attempted to relate the personality characteristics with the career success. has the final responsibility for any action the company undertakes and holds the highest position in the organizational structure (Vancil. 1994). Howard and Bray (1988) designed a mechanism which attempted to relate personality characteristics to career success. In other words success is associated with a person’s passion with his/her vision and his/her ability to go a step further from all his/her competitors (Sarros and Santora. Personality traits affect also dramatically the career success according to Howard and Bray’s (1988). 1983). Dalton and Kesner. 1987. Finally. 1994). For example. 1998). Orpen (1994) and Hall (1990) from a psychological point of view have identified specific strategies that lead to career success. 1994 cited in Perrone. 1997. performance design and its environment. Strategies followed by CEOs in order to develop their career reflect their personality characteristics. This decision influences all the members of the organization and forms the organizational culture (Hambric et al. 1999). The role of a CEO is determinant in the company’s decision centers. Career strategies for success in hotels As with CEOs. 1994). much research explores the specific person as a critical parameter to his/her career success (Finn and Rock. 1996).

1996) examined the career strategies of UK hotel managers. 1993. in Greece with Akrivos (2004). in Australia with Ladkin (2002) and in Egypt with Hannan et al. A definition of the abilities and characteristics that a person must have in order to become a successful hotel general manager has been explored by Worsfold (1989a. The case of Greek hotel managers presented here builds on this research by adding new variables for testing and combining general management theory with specific to the industry research findings. As Schein (1996) mentioned the study of career development must focus on individuals who after a range of promotions reached the top of the corporate hierarchy. 2001). Additionally.5 per cent) of lower class hotels are managed by members of the owner’s family (Papanikos. have good relations with consultants. who has discriminated these requirements into people handling. be able to negotiate especially with public fiscal authorities. commitment and an immaculate appearance. (2003). tolerance. in order for someone to reach the top management of a tourism company. A total of 24 career strategies that theoretically could have helped managers to develop their career in the hotel industry were explored. Wilson (1998) identifies that he/she needs to be innovative. they have been successful in their careers. Within the questionnaire. p. 1995. Research undertaken in the UK (Ladkin and Riley. Blaxter et al. in Croatia with Sehanovic et al. Furthermore. Career histories were gained from the managers using a postal questionnaire. The strategies were adapted from Ladkin . self motivation. willingness to undertake risks and the need for sentimental stability and intelligence where common sense and strong memory are included. The response scale was anchored with “not at all” and “to a very great extent” for all items. The deluxe category was chosen as the majority of the deluxe hotels in Greece are managed by professionals while the majority (97. spirituality and physical stamina. The respondents were presented with a list of 33 career strategies and were asked to indicate whether they had used them in pursuing their careers. especially for females (Wilson.2 Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) 110 characteristics such as dynamism. this research examines mainly leadership characteristics. natural talent. in the USA with Nebel et al. Cohen and Manion. in Mauritius with Ladkin and Juwaheer (2000). personality characteristics such as personal style. It is assumed that as all sample hold general managers positions. 52). profiles and general characteristics in relation to hotel managers have been explored. Research methodology The value of using a case study approach in research is well documented (Yin. While previous research in the industry examined the profile of the hotel general managers mainly from the demographical viewpoint. The present research is based on a sample of 65 Greek deluxe hotel’s general managers who were not owners or members of the family who owned the hotel. 2000. (2000). The explanation of his statement is based on the fact that hotel owners display a high level of diversity and would be very difficult to conclude in scientifically accepted results. b). in the UK with Corcoran and Johnson (1976) and Harper et al.IJCHM 19. managers were asked to indicate career strategies they had used in order to be successful in their careers. in Korea with Kim (1994).. The owners who are managers could be the subject of future research. The sample represented the 85 percent of the population of this hotel category in Greece. (1995). aware of the company’s politics. 1998). (2005). to be informed about organizational dynamics. For example. and to be a workaholic.

They are grouped into four categories. The selected strategies are not only those which were tested in the industry from previous research but also those which are valued by the management theory to be most important in all industries. Potential career strategies .Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) and Riley (1996). The rating scale was from one to five. with one being the least important strategy and five the most important. The career strategies presented are listed in Table I. the dominant strategies. starting with the most frequently used. Career strategies for success 111 Research findings The research findings are in the areas of career strategies used by the hotel managers in four categories. the less dominant strategies. those of limited use and the least used. This categorization was undertaken Number Strategy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Always going for the higher salary Always putting my career first Always taking opportunities offered by company training schemes Always trying to improve my communication skills and abilities Become member of professional and other social unions to support my career Being prepared to make financial sacrifices to learn Consider my job mainly as recreation and less as labour Continuing to take courses and improve my education and skills Having a mentor Having clear long-term career goals Helping my superiors to achieve their personal objectives even though not the same with my personal objectives I had internal locus of control I had internal locus of control Acting with enthusiasm and smile Aiming to establish good interpersonal relations with hotel owners and tour operators Being flexible and able to adapt to any changes Identifying my personal goals with those of the organization Keeping up to date in my professional skills Paying attention to my personal image by caring about my presentation and speech Being prepared to relocate Keeping informed of the opportunities in the company Keeping up a record of useful contacts Learning a foreign language My performance was not influenced from stress or other negative environmental factors Not waiting to be told about promotions prospects Regular scanning job adverts and circulation of my CV Trusting my employer that if I do a good job I will get promoted Trying to acquire power and to be able to influence other people Trying to do my best as an employee without paying attention to the comments of my colleagues and superiors Trying to improve my negotiation skills Using an entrepreneurial point of view of my career Using contacts in the industry to get on Using my family contacts in the industry 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 Table I. This research aims to classify and evaluate the importance of the strategies in the tourism industry and use them as a tool of leadership development for the hotel managers.

(3) Having clear long-term career goals.2 in order to show the most important strategies for the industry and to define those which are less important for those who want to develop their career in the hotel industry. (7) Being prepared to make financial sacrifices to learn. (6) Always taking opportunities offered by company training schemes. (2) I had an internal locus of control. The practical implication from this categorization is that professionals can see those that have been most used. . Less dominant strategies The next 13 strategies were rated from 4. (3) Acting with enthusiasm and smile. 112 The dominant strategies The strategies of this group were rated over 4.Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) IJCHM 19. hotel recruiters could use these results as criteria for selecting the right people for the managerial positions. hotels which are offering training programs could include modules that would support the development of these strategies. (12) Consider my job mainly as recreation and less as labor. (8) Identifying my personal goals with those of the organization. (13) Learning a foreign language.5 on average and are presented below in rank order with the highest ratings first: (1) Keeping informed of the opportunities in the company. (11) Using an entrepreneurial point of view of my career. (7) The ability to handle diversity effectively.5 to 4 and are listed in rank order: (1) My performance was not influenced from stress or other negative environmental factors. (9) Continuing to take courses and improve my education and skills. and what they could avoid. Additionally. (6) Paying attention to my personal image by caring about my presentation and speech. (2) Always trying to improve my communication skills and abilities. (4) Being flexible and able to adapt to any changes. (10) Trusting my employer that if I do a good job I will get promoted. The implications for the industry of the dominant strategies illustrate which ones are seen as important for people who want to become hotel managers. Furthermore. (5) Aiming to establish good interpersonal relations with hotel owners and tour operators. (4) Trying to improve my negotiation skills (5) Keeping up to date in my professional skills.

(7) Trying to acquire power and to be able to influence other people. Career strategies for success 113 . (3) Keeping up a record of useful contacts (4) Always putting my career first.g. the implications are the same for the individuals. (8) Not waiting to be told about promotions prospects. not waiting to be told . trying to acquire power. (5) Using my family contacts in the industry. The implications are the same as for the previous groups of strategies. (2) Trying to do my best as an employee without paying attention to the comments of my colleagues and superiors. These strategies are the least preferred or followed. etc. (5) Always going for the higher salary. . (3) Become member of professional and other social unions to support my career. The strategies of this group have an average importance for those who are employed in the hotel industry. (6) Always being ready to relocate. listed in rank order: (1) Using contacts in the industry to get on. however of interest is that an active and energetic attitude goes against career development. (4) Regular scanning job adverts and circulation of my CV.) Least used strategies The last five strategies proved to be less important for the managers as a vehicle for their career success. Finally as they have not any relation with the ownership of the companies they manage they rarely use their family contacts in the industry. as the managers of the sample have used their own abilities and strengths to reach at the top. Of course these strategies are less important from the previous ones but are still very important for someone who wants to climb the corporate ladder. always ready to relocate. the hotels and the human resource managers of the hotels. This might have a negative implication for the individual as it leads to stressful situations (e. (2) Having a mentor. Additionally they want to reflect an image of independence and shelf esteem.Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) As with the dominant strategies. Looking into the above strategies it is obvious that they reflect the positive and constructive attitude one must have during his/her career development. Limited strategies The following strategies scored an average evaluation from 3 to 4 and are listed in rank order: (1) Helping my superiors to achieve their personal objectives even though not the same with my personal objectives. .

2002) and indicate that mobility. This is related to the first point. the majority of the persons who became general managers did not aim for a higher salary. The implications for the industry are in three main areas. the strategies illustrate possible ways to encourage or discourage individuals who want to develop their career in tourism taking into consideration their abilities and personality. Second. speech. Therefore the organizations internal labor market dominates job-searching activities.2 Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) 114 Although it is not possible to create profiles of the hotel managers from the small sample. are strategic thinkers and active learners. The research indicates that first. Second. but also the ranking of the examined strategies and the integration of the theories in career development. with regard to training it is clear that individuals are constantly striving to improve their skills. and finally have good presentation. They did look outwardly for other job opportunities. are able to manage diversity. the findings provide a solid ground for the planning and development of the educational programs offered by the hotels and from the academic institutions specialized in this field. First. employees will not look elsewhere in the external labor market. A final point is that has this research has shown similarities to UK and Australian hotel managers in terms of career strategies used. are flexible to adapt to the continuous changing internal and external environment.IJCHM 19. and there does not appear to be . The least used are family contacts and money as a motivating factor in career advancement. The practical implication of this finding is that organizations need to seek ways other than financial rewards if they are to keep key staff. The findings are similar to previous research (Ladkin and Riley. 1996. the managers are influenced by the industry culture in terms of the accepted values and norms of the contemporary tourism companies. internal promotion can keep them from moving to another company. did not have a mentor or family members to help them succeed in their careers. If individuals have been identified as being of value to an organizational. Training opportunities may be one way in which organizations can look assist the retention of those developing a managerial career. they are not the main driver behind career development. what these findings show is a degree of consensus in the career strategies and that certain patterns emerge. Whilst salaries would be important in attracting staff. in terms of recruitment individuals look internally rather than externally in order to advance their career opportunities. In terms of the least used strategies. training and willingness to be adaptable are commonly used strategies. Finally. The implications for human resource practitioners are that internal promotions are one way of developing the careers of individuals to ensure they are not lost too the external labor market. it does not appear that money is a motivating factor in the development of careers. communication and personal relations skills. that if opportunities are available within the company. the managers have an internal locus of control so as to be able to continuously improve him/her self. Conclusion This research has outlined career strategies that have been used by Greek deluxe hotel managers in order to achieve success in their careers. The contribution of this study is not only the confirmation of the results of previous researches. Typically. Related to the retention of staff. Ladkin.

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and his research interests and publications are in the areas of hospitality management. career analysis and labor mobility in the tourism and hospitality industry and the conference industry. He gained his Bachelor from the University of Piraeus and his PhD from the National Technical University of Athens. Christos Akrivos is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: akrivos@hol. Greece. Bournemouth University. He gained his MBA and PhD from the University of Piraeus.Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) at the Greek Open University and a teacher of Strategic Management at the Greek National School of Public Administration. Her research interests and publications are in the areas of tourism education. human resource management and quality assurance and performance measurement of the higher education institutions.emeraldinsight. Greece. UK.com/reprints Career strategies for success 119 . career planning and development. To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. His research interests and publications are in the areas of strategic management. innovation management and human resource management. He has many years professional experience in the hospitality and the tourism industry. She gained an MSc in Tourism Management and a PhD from the University of Surrey. Panayiotis Reklitis is Vice President and Assistant Professor at Patras Technological Institution.com Or visit our web site for further details: www. She is Head of the Centre for Event and Sport Research within the School of Services Management. School of Services Management.gr Adele Ladkin is a Professor of Tourism Employment at the International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research. UK. She is Editor in Chief for the International Journal of Tourism Research.

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Downloaded by Johnson & Wales University At 18:00 08 October 2014 (PT) .