Schwaiger, Katrin (2022). Employer image, occupational commitment and regional quality of life – the role of destination characteristics for reducing turnover among hospitality employees in Tyrol and Bavaria. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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The hospitality industry has been facing the challenge of employer image and labor shortage, including skilled labor retention and turnover for a long time in the past. Furthermore, this industrial branch portrays higher levels of labor shortage and turnover than other sectors in alpine regions, Tyrol and Bavaria in particular. This situation is mostly due to the unfortunate employer image in the hospitality industry that commonly relies on unskilled labor to meet the labor shortage. Low wages, irregular and long working hours as well as the job’s rather low social status and difficult work-life-planning contribute to this negative employer image. This subject matter is a central research target within tourism geography, especially with regards to hospitality. Moreover, it has been well established that job and organizational satisfaction as well as employee commitment positively influence employee retention and career longevity. Occupational and organizational employee commitment should be aimed at in particular by businesses. Commitment consists of an affective, continuance and normative component and the theory dates back to Meyer and Allen (1991). The affective component is deemed most important in predicting employee behavior. Additionally, commitment does not only influence employee behavior but also the perception of the entire employer image of a company or whole employing industry. It may not be neglected, however, that hospitality businesses and touristic destinations are inextricably linked with each other. Geographical components such as landscape and other regional features cannot be left out when addressing employees of the tourism industry. Furthermore, previous research in tourism geography has addressed destination image as a core marketing tool in regards of potential tourists while the supply side, namely tourism employees has been left out. Therefore, it is necessary to address not only employees’ commitment to an organization with their perceived quality of work life respectively. It is rather also the perceived general quality of life in the destination that needs to be taken into account when addressing employees’ commitment. Commitment needs to be addressed regarding the whole work destination altogether, including all geographical specifics, not solely an occupation or organization. Whole touristic destinations have been struck by the Covid-19 crisis and commitment has become even more important during this time. In a tourism geographic context, is therefore of central interest how business owners strengthen their own resilience within their destination, keep their employees and enhance their commitment in order to avoid forced turnover or even forced leaving the destination induced by the crisis. This thesis consequently takes on a holistic approach connecting employer image, employee commitment, perceived quality of life in the destination as an expression of employees’ destination image, and commitment to the touristic destination as such. It is analyzed how employer image attributes influence the perceived attractiveness of the whole hospitality industry as an employing industry to begin with. On an organizational level, it is examined how employer image and affective commitment are related in family hospitality businesses. Furthermore, the Covid-19 crisis struck the hospitality industry rather off-guard, thus putting whole resilience strategies, commitment endeavors and human resource management at stake. The thesis analyzes hospitality business owners’ strategies of dealing with the crisis placing particular focus on the role of employees and business resilience through various factors (e.g. regional, personal). As destination and businesses cannot be separated in the hospitality industry, the thesis moves on from an organizational perspective to the destination perspective. A model of destination commitment is proposed which extends and adjusts the previously established model of organizational commitment. The results show how important a positive employer image is to create employee commitment and to establish a positive perception of the entire employing industry. Furthermore, it is portrayed that despite the attempt of family businesses to achieve a particular image focusing on social aspects, it is also the financial component of an employer image influencing affective occupational commitment. However, family businesses do in fact place great emphasis on their employees matching the fostered employer image. This insight is particularly relevant during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. A very surprising result refers to the rather optimistic state of mind among business owners concerning the recovery process and keeping employees in the business. This also shows that employee commitment is in fact viewed as valuable for business success and resilience. Thus, the thesis adds to the still rather under-researched stakeholder group of hospitality employees in the context of business resilience. Another result of the thesis is the development of a model of Destination Commitment. The model includes the components affective commitment (why someone wants to stay in the destination, normative commitment (why someone feels morally obliged to stay in the destination), convenience commitment (why someone sees it as practical staying in the destination) and home commitment (why someone feels at home in the destination). Altogether, the thesis adds to a better understanding of the interrelation between employer image, employee commitment, employees’ perceived quality of life and commitment geographical destination. Furthermore, it sheds light on how family hospitality business owners deal with an external unforeseen crisis in order to create business resilience and keep their employees attached to the business. Lastly, the thesis develops a new approach towards commitment, adds another perspective to the destination image by introducing an under-researched stakeholder group and generates new theory of commitment by expanding and modifying the existing commitment theory in applying it to the geographical context.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Schwaiger, Katrinkatrinmschwaiger@gmail.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-622335
Date: 2022
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences > Department of Geosciences > Geographisches Institut
Subjects: Earth sciences
Geography and travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Hospitality EmployeesEnglish
Alpine DestinationsEnglish
Date of oral exam: 24 January 2022
NameAcademic Title
Braun, BorisProf. Dr.
Dannenberg, PeterProf. Dr.
Zehrer, AnitaFH-Prof. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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