Hospitality Higher Education: The Impact


Designing of human resources system is a fundamental part of creation of value for the customers and profitability for the shareholders in hospitality industry (Enz & Siguaw, 2000). Due to the innate importance of human capital in the hospitality industry, a fundamental requirement for the industry is to have professionally qualified hospitality managers. The onus of preparing these managers falls on hospitality educators. Hence, identifying the competencies required in entry level hospitality management positions and inculcating these competencies in hotel management schools’ curricula is a priority.

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Taiwanese hospitality industry has experienced exuberant growth in the past ten years to meet consumer demand (Tsai, Goh, Huffman, & Wu, 2006). This growth can be highlighted through the industry’s annual growth rate of inbound visitors is 4.19 percent for 2007 (Taiwan Tourism Bureau, 2008). Due to the stability of economic growth and international trades, the increase in tourist arrivals and the development of major hotels and the hospitality industry have taken place. To quote Wise (1993) “the growth in the number of outbound intraregional travellers brings into sharper focus the future importance of domestic tourism to each country.” (p.56) According to Taiwan Tourism Board (2007) there has been an increase in domestic trips by 3.7 percent in 2005-06. Evidently the Taiwanese hospitality industry is riding on a wave of immense growth and requires skilled labour to sustain and excel its international standards in the global industry.

Service industries, especially the hospitality industry, are forecasted to create new jobs and would account for increase in employment in the future (Carey & Franklin, 1993). The growth in the hospitality industry has accentuated employment opportunity in the industry. The Taiwanese government has identified hospitality industry as a potent employment base for the country (Horng J. , 2003). Currently, only about 680,000 Taiwanese work in hotels or restaurants, and another 100,000 in other parts of the tourism and leisure industry – taken together less than 10 per cent of Taiwan’s workforce (Hille, 2008).

In order to address this requirement of the hospitality industry, hospitality management programs in Taiwan have increased from seven undergraduate programs and one graduate program in 1995 to sixty-four undergraduate and eighteen graduate programs in 2002 (Horng, 2003). Though these programs have increased the supply of manpower to the growing industry, it has failed to deliver competent managers as required by the industry. Backdated curricula (Tsai S. , 2002) inadequate educator industry interaction has made it difficult for educators to ascertain industry needs in an educational context (Lennon, 1989; Tsai, Goh, Huffman, & Wu, 2006). This has brought up the concept of international hotels’ managements to establish their own institutions (China Daily, 2005). Students in the hospitality schools in Taiwan themselves believe that they are not equipped with the competencies required by the industry (Horng & Lu, 2006).

A recent trend in the hospitality industry in Taiwan is competency based interviews (Tsai, Goh, Huffman, & Wu, 2006). Hence it is extremely important to cultivate the job competencies in candidates. Universities are responsible to provide programs for continuous professional development to assist the industry (Windle, 1999). The hospitality industry has begun to define competencies for persons entering various jobs which may include knowledge, skills, ability, attitude, behaviour, or judgment in relation to an established set of criteria for a position (Mariampolski, Spears, & Vaden, 1980). Educators need to collaborate with the industry leaders regarding the essential competencies that graduates need for professional success (Kay & Russette, 2002).

The necessity of developing a curriculum to meet industry needs is essential because research has shown that the entry-level employees in the hospitality industry influence service quality delivered significantly (Tesone & Ricci, 2005; Cho & Wong, 2001). Recruiters hiring employees in the hospitality industry expect higher levels of workplace skills (Formica & McCleary, 2000; Harrison, 1996) and competencies for a management position (Purcell, 1993). Thus it is vital that the hospitality management programs are designed such that they can address and develop managers with adequate competencies required by the industry.

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The given background of the Taiwanese hospitality industry posses the problems as discussed in next section.

Problem Statement

The problem faced by the Taiwanese hospitality industry is the proper identification of industry needs and incorporation of those requirements in the education curriculum. The industry has criticised the hospitality management education system for not being able to meet industry requirements (Tsai, Goh, Huffman, & Wu, 2006). As Lennon (1989; Tsai, Goh, Huffman, & Wu, 2006) believes, there exist extensive difficulties in ascertaining the educational needs of the industry in its employees. It is important that hospitality management graduates be able to function effectively as management trainees when they enter the industry as these entry-level hospitality managerial trainees are most likely to be promoted to management positions (Okeiyi et al. 1994). Therefore, certain competencies become inevitable for management trainees who require them to become effective managers in the future.

No reliable listing of competencies for entry-level hospitality managerial trainees exists in Taiwan. Further, there exists a gap in the job competencies perceived by the industry and the educators. This is largely due to the lack of awareness of the educators and their not being in-touch with the industry needs (Tsai S. , 2002; Tsai, Goh, Huffman, & Wu, 2006). This vacuum in interaction has led to the inclusion of irrelevant topics in the curriculum omitting the relevant, practical and applicable topics (Lennon, 1989; Tsai, Goh, Huffman, & Wu, 2006)

Purpose of this Research

Bridging the gap between the industry and the educators is the primary purpose of the paper. Gol and Pol (1975) describes the first step towards planning an educational program is identification and description of competencies required for successful functioning in a position. So far hospitality higher education literature has not provided any constructive study to understand the competencies being targeted in the education curriculum followed in Taiwan. Further, there has been a gross difference in the perception of the competency required for hospitality jobs of recruiters and the educators. Hospitality management educators are concerned whether hospitality management programs are preparing hospitality students adequately. This develops the need to study and examine the competency gaps between the industry and educators’. Therefore, the principle purpose of this study is to reach a consensus of opinions regarding the requirement of competencies in higher education in hospitality industry.


Previous studies on competency required by hospitality managers (Raybould & Wilkins, 2005; Kay & Russette, 2000; Taylor & Berger, 2000; Tsai et al., 2006) have clearly shown a discrepancy in the competencies which are considered important at the workplace and the importance given to the competencies by management school educators (Harrison, 1996). Consequently, it is important to locate the required competencies in hotel managers is an important issue. This study will help to bridge the gap after identifying the areas where the difference arose. So this will help the higher education system to identify the industry requirements better and help them to design their courses in an industry oriented manner.

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With the rapid growth in the hospitality industry there has been a marked increase in the higher education facilities in Taiwan (Horng J. , 2003). There is usually a disconnect in the competencies delivered in the curriculum of different hospitality management schools. So it becomes a difficult task for the employers to ascertain which curriculum delivers the right course which provides the competencies that are actually required by the industry. This paper will help managers to ascertain the competencies they may expect from entry-level hires.

Due to varying curricula adopted by different hospitality management schools, employers do not know what should be expected from the entry-level hires. Due to lack of collaboration between the hospitality management schools in Taiwan, the curricula differ between institutions (Yeh, Hsu, Kim, & Im, 2003). This paper will help managers to set an expectation from entry-level hires.

Apart from this, competency identification in an industry provides an integrated managerial approach to human resource management (Tsai, Goh, Huffman, & Wu, 2006). Research has shown the importance of competency assessment arises in doing succession planning, training and development, recruitment and selection, and performance appraisals (Nath & Raheja, 2001).

Further studies have shown that entry level managers affect service quality (Baum, 2007), which in turn gets transformed into customer satisfaction. Hence, competent manager will increase organizational performance. Keeping in mind the above discussion, research on competency based higher education in the hospitality education system is extremely important as entry-level employees are crucial influencers of customer satisfaction (Grönroos, 2000).

Attrition has been a marked problem in the hospitality industry (Lam & Xiao, 2000). One possible reason for such high attrition may be inadequate and thorough preparation during the pursuit of hospitality management degree. Another possibility for high turnover may be mismatched expectations between what a hospitality manager expects of a new hire and what these new hires believe are the expectations of their new employers. This study of this paper will help in setting the expectations of both the employers and the employees’ right.

Literature Review

The existing correlation between the competencies necessary for entry-level managers in the hospitality industry is well documented in the literature. In order to meticulously review the research work on hospitality competencies, it is essential to assess the literature on competencies that are usually required at workplaces (especially in the service sector) and how they affect the quality of service provided to the customers. This section is segregated into the literature dealing with competency and service quality, after which the importance of competency in the education and hospitality industry is traced to demonstrate the need for industry education coordination for development of skilled workforce. The plan of this chapter is under the following subheadings: Hospitality Industry Competencies, Hospitality Higher Education, Competencies and Research on Hospitality Competencies, and Hospitality Education in Taiwan.

Managerial Competencies

Higher educational theories have undergone various changes over the years. The educational theories were embedded in philosophies which such as education imparting formal education in order to make the student s socialise or establish a social cohesion. Another kind states that education should provide a primary description of the role and is thus regarded as the practical theory. This theory shows a wide variety of scope, content, and complexity. Due to the nature of these theories they may be called general theories and are difficult to be applied in special vocational trainings (Moore, 1982). The education theories evolved from the early theories of what the teacher taught to students through communicating knowledge (Ramsden, 1992).

A second theory stressed on teaching through additional activities in the class. Another branch of educational theory evolved wherein the potent was to listening to the students and to other teachers to learn to teach better. Thus from the activity based education there was a change to a more democratic method of knowledge dissemination. But in case of vocational teaching methods, these three theories were faulty as they failed to bridge the gap between knowledge deliverance by teachers and their usability and applicability in real life scenario (Tuxworth, 1989). These deficiencies led to the development of the present model of competence based education more than twenty years ago (Gonczi, 2000). Bloom et al. (1956) devised a model of cognitive educational taxonomy with the progressive levels of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. According to these theorists, the lowest level of educational instruction available to an educator was. At a lower education levels, students were instructed in basic facts and nothing further. But as the student moves towards higher education, he/she is in a position to analyze and comprehend the learning with her experience.

Krathwohl, Bloom, and Masia (1964) developed on Bloom et al.’s (1956) theory on the basis of affective nature of the brain. Their theory was based on the hierarchical learning domain based upon the mental processing that goes on as one learns and at what level the learner exists in the learning process. In this theory, the lowest level is receiving; the learner is simply “willing to receive to attend” to stimuli at this stage (p. 176). Since the debut of the theories during the mid-20th century, educators have slowly shifted to a criterion-based learning process where information is provided dependent upon which level one is learning from within the taxonomy structure. The testing and giving back of expected knowledge and/or the ability to synthesize knowledge and make overall evaluations is quite evident even in today’s classrooms. This change in education progressed also in relation to the testing arena. That is why an educational system that ensured that the knowledge imparted in the classroom was application oriented and helped in increasing the competencies and skills required in the workplace. This need resulted in the evolution of the theory of competency based education.

Competency based education had its origin in the 1920s in the USA (Tuxworth, Competency Based Education and Training: Background adn origin, 1989) and was almost an amalgamation fo the previous educational theories in its aim. Competency based education aimed to provide learning htrough proper understanding of the practical aspects of work important for vocational training which were acheived by arranging activities and theoritical learnign at the same time. The idea of competency being implemented as an educational tool was first established by David McClelland, a former Harvard psychologist (Mirable, 1997).

McLeland (1973) implemented the first criteria-based testing and education and believed in competency based recruitment test rather than intelligence. Criteria based test has been suggested to be used in educational tests by many other academicians (Kibler, Barker, & Miles, 1970; Popham & Husek, 1969). Later studies showed that competency reflects the behaviourist roots of education and learning theory (Jarvis & Parker, 2004) which has been utilized in different settings. The failure of large-scale programs to deliver the necessary changes in individual behaviour and a growing link between business performance and employee skills are the two main factors that have led to the ascendancy of a competency-based approach (Boam and Sparrow 1992). Thus, competency based approach is a method of providing both theoretical and practical training to the students.

Stuart and Lindsay (1997) noted that there is no adequate approach in defining managerial competency in terms of the context of an organization. Jarvis and Parker (2004) concluded that measuring work-based competencies has become one of the critical needs of professional education system. A review of competency literature shows that competency based testing has become a widely accepted tool of selection: trucking (Mele, 1993 ), banking, sports, parcel delivery, emergency road service (Jaffee, 2000), tour operators, restaurants (Agut & Grau, Managerial competency needs and training requests: The case of the Spanish tourist industry, 2002) and club management (Perdue, Woods, & Ninemeier, 2001).

Katz (1955) first developed a managerial effectiveness model which was a departure from the existing trait based or personality based studies. This model suggested that effective manager’s measures rest on three basic skills which are his/her technical, human, and conceptual skills. According to Katz, all managers required all the three skills but they are usually used in different capacities based upon the level and specific job of the manager. Katz defined technical skills as the skills that “involves specialized knowledge, analytical ability within that specialty, and facility in the use of the tools and techniques of the specific discipline” (Katz, p. 34). Human skills too were considered to be necessary at all levels. Conceptual skills were used at the highest levels of management and executive work. According to Katz, these skills will direct how a manger will manage his regular jobs.

Though his ideas were still developing, but Katz’s theory brought a new path to measure and understands managerial effectiveness. Katz’s theory first emphasized “that good administrators are not necessarily born; they may be developed” (Katz, p. 42). The departure of managerial effectiveness models from trait to personality –based theories was supported by other researchers like Stull (1974), Sapienza (1978), Guglielmino and Carroll (1979), et al. Stull commented, “Through practice and research, management work is being identified, classified, and measured. As a specialized skill, management work is transferable, can be taught, and can be practiced in terms of recognized principles and an emerging common vocabulary” (p. 6). Indeed, “the key point that should be emphasized is that we are not getting paid for our personality but for our performance” (Stull, p. 8).

Many later studies had tried to replicate the work of Katz (1955). One such work was that of Guglielmino and Carroll (1979) which was done on middle-level managers rather than on executives as opposed to Katz. The study found that clear indication that there existed a definite “hierarchy of management skills” in developing process of effective managers. The same skill types as was found by Katz were rediscovered by their study. These skills were technical, human, and conceptual and it generalized the research findings for all levels of management. However, the research indicated that conceptual skills were most relevant and important at the top level jobs while technical skills were most important at the lowest levels (Guglielmino & Carroll, 1979). The theory of three broad job skills proposed by Katz was not refuted by this later work. Instead, it was expanded to indicate the varying levels of skill competency needed based upon managerial level within an organization. In a more recent study, Brophy and Kiely (2002) found that competencies are the skills, knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes required to perform a role effectively. Therefore, competency is now used to describe a feature of a person’s ability to perform the job appropriately. Thus, competencies address one’s skills, knowledge, and attitudes through observable and measurable behaviors and outcomes.

Competencies for Hospitality Managers

Competencies in the hospitality industry have been a well documented area of research. Competency studies in the hospitality industry dates back to 1920s when three hospitality management competency studies were established by Cornell University in the United States. Early studies of competencies in the hospitality industry was conducted by Mariampolski, Spears, and Vaden (1980) reconfirmed both the previous findings of Katz (1955) and Guglielmino and Carroll (1979) in that three broad job competency areas existed for hospitality (restaurant) students and future employees. Their findings showed that technical and human skills were most relevant for entry level hires (Guglielmino & Carroll, 1979; Mariampolski, Spears, & Vaden, 1980).

A review of the literature concerning the expected competencies (those required by hiring agents for hospitality managers) revealed some common themes. This list was compiled using the results of nine different studies by hospitality researchers. Tas (1988) defined competencies as “those activities and skills judged essential to perform the duties of a specific position,” which includes those experiences that enable one to assume the role connected with the position. Competence encompasses qualities of personal effectiveness and behaviours that influence the level of performance. Competencies here refer to skills, knowledge, judgment, or a specified experience that prepares one to assume a role (Kay and Russet, 2000; Jones, 1990; Tas, 1988; Welch, 1984).

Research has shown that the competencies so required by the industry were mainly the findings of earlier studies (Tas, 1983 ). In agreement with the findings of earlier studies (Guglielmino & Carroll, 1979; Katz, 1955; Mariampolski et al., 1980), human relation abilities were deemed essential. Another study showed that writing, presentational speaking, and leadership/group process skills are important in hospitality students and they are the most sought after graduate students are those who show competence in critical managerial skills (Brownell, 2001). As an initial endeavor in the area of job competencies required for hotel manager trainees, Tas commented, “no previously prepared instrument is suitable for the collection of data needed for this study. Hence, a multi-stage endeavor is used to develop the appropriate instrument” (pp. 31-32). The instrument was developed after an extensive literature review which led to seven competency categories: accounting procedures, hotel front office, hotel sales and promotions, housekeeping, food and beverage, personnel, and other managerial responsibilities (pp. 32-33).

Competencies required by hospitality managers can be grouped such as human resources management, communications skills, customer relations, guests’ problems, leadership, motivation of employees, financial management, entrepreneurial skills, professionalism and ethics, industry-related skills, legal environment, and marketing and sales. Other skills and knowledge in the literature include systems control, organizational management, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, work experience, and program evaluation (Arnaldo, 1981; Berger & Brownell, 1996; Buergermeister, 1983; Chesser & Ellis, 1995; Hsu & Gregory, 1995; Jones, 1990; Mallory, 1997; NCVE, 1990; Tas, 1988; Kay and Russet, 2000).

This is similar to Katz’s (1955) technical skills. This area is of very high importance for the industry and is required in its employees (Tas, LaBrecque, and Clayton, 1996). Tas (1983) found that hotel managers rated the competencies with varying levels of importance and suggested that competencies could serve as a basis for curriculum development or refinement of existing curricula within hotel management programs While the human relations competency was evident in many of the competencies rated as essential, knowledge/technical skills were also evident. Conceptual competencies were the least likely to be found among those rated as essential or of considerable importance. These findings were consistent with those of Katz (1955) and Guglielmino and Carroll (1979) in that knowledge (technical skills), attitude (human relations skills), and ability (conceptual skills) were all present, but to differing degrees dependent upon the level of manager under examination.

This was reconfirmed by LeBruto and Murray (1994), who found that human resource management skills and solving customer problems were the most important competencies as perceived by twenty-six hotel management company recruiters, seventy-six faculty, and 289 students. Ashley et al. (1995) reported that the ten areas of general management knowledge included people skills, creative-thinking ability, financial skills, written and oral communication skills, service orientation, total quality management, listening skills, problem-identification and problem-solving skills, customer-feedback skills, and individual and system-wide computer skills. The study further identified the three most effective competencies, which were problem solving, communication, and human resource management.

In a study by Agut, Grau and Peiró (2003) of the Spanish hospitality industry revealed that the technical managerial competency were necessary mainly in computing, languages, and economic–financial management. Generic managerial competency needs appear mostly in job performance efficacy and self-control and social relationships. All training demands refer to technical issues, while none refer to generic managerial competencies. Moreover, these competency needs do not lead managers to demand training in order to meet them.

In order to evaluate the hospitality education in terms of competencies, Sandwith’s managerial competency-domain model (1993) is widely used as a competencies assessment tool in the hospitality industry (Tsai, 2004). This model serves as a useful tool in helps in making competencies useful in regular teaching methodology. Tsai expanded upon the fundamental skills areas Sandwith’s competency domain model was expanded to include conceptualization/creative domain, leadership domain, interpersonal domain, administrative domain, and technical domain.

Conceptual/Creative Domain

Sandwith’s (1993) conceptualization/creative domain referred to the “cognitive skills associated with comprehending important elements of the job” (p. 46). To help ensure success, one must know the knowledge required for top performance with his or her position.

Leadership Domain

The leadership domain, however, is concerned with taking that knowledge and “generating ideas for action” (p. 47). Tas, LaBrecque, and Clayton (1996) found that leadership competency has been ranked highest as a requirement in entry-level management trainees. This has been confirmed by Tsai (2004) and Tsai, Goh, Huffman, and C. Kenny Wu (2006).

Interpersonal Domain

The interpersonal domain focuses on the “skills for effective interaction with others” (p. 48). Human resources skill, i.e. dealing with customers, handling customer problems etc. are the most important competencies as perceived by twenty-six hotel management company recruiters (LeBruto and Murray, 1994). A competency study for property management trainees by Tas, LaBrecque, and Clayton (1996), based on Sandwith’s competency model, concluded that the highest-ranked competency statements among seventy-two competencies studied were interpersonal, leadership, and conceptual skills.

Administrative Domain

The administrative domain was focused not on paperwork and administrative tasks, but rather the personnel management systems which had come about in the workplace at the time of Sandwith’s study (notably, occupational health and safety, equal opportunities, and human rights). Tsai, Goh, Huffman, and C. Kenny Wu (2006) reported 16 competencies required for hospitality industry and out of which 4 were administrative skills.

Operational/Technical Domain

And, lastly, the technical domain remained much as Katz (1955) described it and focused on the actual type of work that the specific organization does. This area was found important for management training by Tas, LaBrecque, and Clayton (1996) who found that well-defined skill competencies for a position encouraged job occupants to work more effectively. Tas et al. (1996) found that property management is one of the essential competencies that are looked for as an operation competency in entry level management trainees in the hospitality industry.

Competency Framework in Hospitality Higher Education

Competency can be applied in different ways (Brophy & Kiely, 2002). This section tries to review the researches which were undertaken to understand the requirement of a competency based curriculum in hospitality management schools and industry requirements.

The origin of hospitality education was out of the need to supply the hospitality industry with competent managers and is often driven by industry standards (Nelson & Dopson, 2001). According to Nelson and Dobson, the primary determinants of a successful hospitality education are the quality of graduates and retention of those graduates in industry (2001). According to Riegel (1995), that hospitality education basically consists of three key elements substantive knowledge, skills and values. He explains that the substantive knowledge component is essential for the practice of the profession, the skill component provides the ability to apply knowledge to practice, and the values component fosters career values necessary for success (Reigel, 1995). Curricular issues have been widely discussed and debated in the hospitality education literature, primarily because of the relative newness of the field of study in comparison with other fields, and because of the continual reconstruction of curricula to satisfy institutional and industry needs (Nelson and Dobson, 2001). Consequently, there has been academic interest in understanding the competencies required by the industry and incorporating them in training future managers.

Professional higher education coincided with the issue of the key management competencies (Prabhu, 1996). It is difficult task to maintain parity between industry requirement and the curricula (Goh, 2001). Goh observes that students, educators, and human resource specialists must become more innovative in terms of course direction, content, programming, and delivery. Tas (1988) developed a list of competencies in seventy-five top U.S. hotels and ranked them according to the perspective of industry and educators. In total, seventy competencies were identified out of which thirty-six were proposed as the basis for developing hospitality management curriculum. Tas’s research also stressed on developing competencies both in classroom as well as in field (through internship programs), especially for higher education hospitality programs. Hence, there is a continuous requirement to upgrade and revamp educational curriculum in hospitality studies (Lefever and Withiam 1998).

In another research by Christou (1999) examined the hospitality management education system in Greece and reports the initial findings of a qualitative research project undertaken for an assessment of the Greek system. The concept and the need of hospitality management education are explored and their struggle for identity is described. Furthermore, the graduates’ views on the hospitality education that they had received are examined through a large number of in-depth interviews. Finally, based on the research findings, the study draws a number of conclusions are drawn and specific suggestions are provided for future development in the hospitality education in Greece.

Raybould and Wilkins (2005 ) studied that the expectations of hospitality managers regarding skills in graduates as compared to the student’s perceptions of what hospitality managers want. The research methodology they employed used a generic skills framework. Data was collected through a sample survey of 850 Australian hospitality managers and 211 undergraduate hospitality management students. The results showed a gap in the perceptions of students and the wants of hospitality managers. According to the research managers rated skills associated with interpersonal, problem solving, and self-management skill domains as most important whereas students believed that skills related to conceptual and analytical domain were very important.

Competencies for entry-level hospitality managerial positions in this study are also cluster into Sandwith’s five main domains. This competency-domain model of managerial competency serves as a guideline in addressing the need to be practical and making the competencies relevant to day-to-day work. Tsai (2004) mentions that one way of using Sandwith’s competency model is to cluster the management trainees’ competencies and match them to meet the requirements of the hospitality industry. This approach was adopted from Brophy and Kiely (2002) and Tas, LaBrecque, and Clayton (1996) and had led to a sharper definition for relevant behavioural indicators. the latter conducted a competency study for property management trainees in fifty properties. The highest-ranked competency statements among seventy-two competencies studied were interpersonal, leadership, and conceptual skills. The study further concluded that well-de.ned skill competencies for a position encouraged job occupants to work more effectively.

Kay and Russette (2000) conducted fifty-two personal interviews based on a competency assessment survey designed by Tas, LaBrecque, and Clayton (1996) and Sandwith’s managerial competency domain model. The study found that (a) managers were viewed by their superiors as performing adequately in each competency and domain area considered essential for managerial success, (b) nonperformance was not tolerated, or (c) some combination of the previous two findings. The researchers also concluded that essential competencies constituted a foundation for the development of job descriptions and provided the basis for training and career development in the hospitality industry.

Tsai (2004) noted that individual competencies could be combined to form a competency-model, frequently based on Sandwith’s (1993) competency-domain model of managerial competency. The model, as described by Tsai, comprises of the following five domains of managerial competency: “Conceptual: the cognitive skills needed for the job; Leadership: the ability to turn ideas into productive action; Interpersonal: skills for effective interaction with others; Administrative: personal and financial management of the business; and Technical: the knowledge and skills essential to producing the product or service.” (p. 22)

Competency models tend to focus on behaviour rather than on personality traits because personality traits are usually difficult to measure correctly (Chung-Herrera et al. 2003). Tsai (2004) observes that in the hospitality industry competencies models help to educate future leaders by guiding educators in designing meaningful curricula. He further mentions that there has been greater emphasis on preparing students for the hospitality industry based on the industry required competencies. Thus, these competency models can help students seek out employment and career tracks that will give them opportunities to develop specific skills and knowledge.

Hospitality Industry and Higher Education in Taiwan

Hospitality Higher Education in Taiwan

Hospitality and tourism education in Taiwan began in the late 1960s. A tourism department was developed at the Chinese Culture University in 1968 when it offered the first tourism undergraduate program in Taiwan. In 1989 the first master degree was offered at the Chinese Culture University. Soon the Providence University established its Department of Tourism in 1987 and its graduate program in 2000. Shih Hsin University’s Department of Tourism was formed on 1993.(Tsai, 2004) As the hospitality management and related programs developed, the undergraduate programs have increased from seven in 1995 to a total of 64 in 2003; the graduate programs have increased from seven in 1995 to a total of 64 in 2003 including one doctoral program (Horng, 2003). Up to 2005, there are 31 universities and colleges offering hospitality management programs throughout Taiwan. The amount of universities and colleges which offer hospitality management is tripled within the near six years.

Table 1 demonstrates the steeping hospitality programs in Taiwan and the growing interest and demand for the field. Immense employment opportunity has been created the growth of the sector and the government identifies the tremendous employability of the sector, due to which it has fully supported the development of the industry as well hospitality education in Taiwan.

This rapid growth of hospitality education system has resulted in the requirement to develop standardized curricula which would assist in developing the industry required competencies. This has brought in the demand for academia-industry collaborated curricula which would make both the sectors more efficient.

Higher education has a significant role in moulding the quality of managers in the hospitality industry. In Taiwan unceasing manpower shortages are not an unusual phenomenon (Liu 1991). Such labour shortage affects the global hospitality industry. These shortages affect the global hospitality industry. Surveys conducted by World Tourism Organization (WTO) reported that many Asian countries lack adequately trained professionals (Wise 1993; Lu 1996). The reason behind this problem is the lack of financial resources, in-house training programs and manpower planning, training institutions, programs and instructors to satisfy training needs (Juan 1993). The survey of WTO was correlated with a study in which manpower shortages were attributed to the lack of educational institutions that can generate a large number of well-trained graduates in hospitality management (Hsu & Gregory, 1995). Another problem that needs attention in case of Taiwan is the so-called “Chinese bed syndrome” which is a prevalent attitude problem of Taiwanese people, and in the minds of many Chinese. The socio-cultural discourse of the Chinese construct is that they do not consider working in hotels as a respectable career option (Liu, 1991 & Zhao, 1991). It is solely through education can this socio-cultural dogma regarding jobs in the hospitality industry be removed and demonstrating this as a viable career option (Liu, 1991; Juan, 1993). So with more number of hospitality higher education institutes, the number of students enrolling for hospitality programs has been increasing, which indicates that the age old dogmas are breaking in the Chinese society.

Hospitality Higher Education Models

The discussion in this section is dedicated to understand the different approaches observed for curricula developed in hospitality management education in different countries and how hospitality management education system in Taiwan will benefit from the models followed in other countries. In order to gain a fair understanding of the educational models followed in countries like the USA, Australia, Japan, etc., this section is dedicated to review the educational models of these nations. Hospitality education can be perceived as a mixture of academic, professional and craft knowledge, attitude and skills aimed to satisfying the needs of the hospitality industry. Efforts need to be made to enhance hospitality educators’ perspective of the industry’s needs and to design effective courses in the field of hospitality management (Hsu & Gregory, 1995). It is observed that competency based curricula in different nation takes different forms depending on the nations’ social culture and the structure of the industry. It is important to understand the curricula building styles in different countries so that they can be set as examples of success or failure in the Taiwanese context.

The ultimate customers in hospitality education are not the students of hospitality related courses but the society in general and the hospitality industry (Pizam, 1995). Therefore, an increasing number of university and college programs focus on competency building in an effort to prepare students for servicing the end customers (Chung-Herrera, Enz & Lankau, 2003). Before development and evaluation of hospitality education, it is important to consider what kind of graduates the industry would like to hire and what factors should be included in starting a program (Hsu & Gregory, 1995;Kay & Russette, 2000). According to Gale and Pol (1975) the primary step towards building hospitality education curriculum is to identify the competencies required in the hospitality industry before planning and evaluating educational programs. Such competencies can be developed from a survey of experts in the field (Horng & Wang, 2003). The provision of hospitality education, training and development programs based on the identified managerial competencies can be accepted as standard managerial practice in hospitality industry and reference for curriculum development in hospitality education and training (Horng, 2004).

Graduate and masters degree in hospitality is a fairly recent phenomenon but there is paucity in the variety of program availability (Ricci, 2005). The literature on the subject lacks consensus on which type of curriculum design makes for a perfect match based upon industry needs, student needs, and/or educator needs (Brownell & Chung, 2001; Jayawardena, 2001; Woods, Rutherford, Schmidgall, & Sciarini, 1998). In this section we discuss the various hospitality higher education models as followed in various countries. The study reveals a huge discrepancy in types and number of programs and their curricula worldwide. Here we discuss the various education models followed in different countries for hospitality education.

As in the United States the position of a General Manager in the hospitality industry is the most prized and desired position (Nebel & Goodrich 1991), many hospitality programs are inclined on developing curricula to nurture a general manager rather than an entry-level management trainee (Woods et al., 1998). This in a way creates a gap between the expectation of the management trainees from the industry and vice versa. The program curricula are periodically examined to allow the industry to incorporate the industry’s ever changing requirements in the program structure. Simultaneously, educators share recent research findings with industry executives. This interaction from both the sides, i.e. the industry as well as the educators, enables a continuous lodging management program reviews (Stutts, 1995). This practice is a norm at Cornell University (Dittman, 1997). In context of Cornell University, Dittman reported, “the primary goal of the undergraduate curriculum review process is to ensure that the education provided by the School of Hotel Administration meets the needs of our students and the hospitality industry – for today and into the next millennium” (p. 3).

Australia has experienced growth in the development of innumerable programs and different curricula and program quality are present (McKercher, 2002). The hospitality management programs in Australia started with polytechnic institutes in the 1970s (Hobson 1995) before it assumed its present state.

European hospitality education system especially that in the United Kingdom, were of two distinct styles, one of the Anglo-Saxon style and the other of the European style. (Lawson, as cited in Formica, 1996). The former focused on personal and professional development in a similar fashion to the United States’ programs whereas the later was a more traditional European-style hospitality program, which stressed immensely on cultural norms, economics, and social effects.

According to Formica (1996) the German model stressed on geography, political economics, and business administration while the French model tended to prepare students for managerial jobs in the industry.

Asian experience in hospitality education was different. As in Japan, the entry-level trainees were trained in-house within their companies (Taylor and Berger, 2000), which marked the reason for the absence of hospitality management programs in Japan. One reason for this may be the corporate practice in Japan (Ricci, 2005).

Chinese experience of hospitality programs are in variations of different kinds of western style hospitality programs and the curricula vary to a great extent as is the case in US, Australia and Europe (Ricci, 2005). The Chinese hospitality programs expanded from just one program in late 1970s to 1000 program in 1997 (Xiao, 2000). Xiao observed, “The first restraint [to programs’ future development] is the unclear differentiation of objectives for various educational levels, which has caused much overlap and waste in curriculum design” (p. 1052). The vast difference in the vocational/professional training courses in the hospitality sector and the differences in curricula has led to, as Xiao states, “immaturity of tourism education as a field” (p. 1053). According to Xiao, the Chinese government is striving to “standardize tourism education practice, and to construct tourism management as a secondary study area within business administration schools” (Xiao, p.1053).

In Thailand, the first hospitality program started in 1993. But the hotel management schools are not well equipped to educate locals at a low education fee (Goodno 1993). Goodno mentions the Singapore Hotel Association which offered a joint program in conjunction with Cornell University, but this program had high cost associated with it which was not affordable by many. The program started at Dusit Thani College was more affordable for locals to study without the high cost associated. This program has its influence of business administration style (Ricci, 2004).

There exists a definite paucity in quality research on the higher education programs in hospitality management outside the United States (Ricci 2005). Though researchers have offered and discussed a united and systematic vision for future development in tourism education (Cooper et al., 1992; Dale & Robinson, 2001; Richards, 1998) but constructive research in the area is lacking. Ricci further observed that there is a paucity of a systematic approach to hospitality curricula in hospitality programs of Europe, Australia, Japan, Thailand, and China.

It is hard to determine the higher educational model that Taiwan should follow for its hospitality curriculum. But one implication may be drawn from research which showed that Taiwanese students preferred US as a country to study abroad (Kima, Guob, Wangc, & Agrusad, 2007 ). According to Lashley and Barron (2006 ), students from Confucian heritage, essentially China, Taiwan, etc. show interest in abstract and reflective approaches but negatively to active and concrete teaching strategies. These styles are more prevalent in the curriculum design of the USA than that of in Australia or the UK. This provides a perspective as to which model of higher education in hospitality Taiwanese hospitality education should follow.

Competency and Curriculum Design in Taiwan

Hospitality curriculum in Taiwan was developed based on American and European styles. These are two contrasting approaches. The American approach focuses on development of a professional personality and geared the students with personal knowledge through the use of proper skills and knowledge, whereas, the European approach is more operation-driven. The adoption of different management programs have helped in creating a Taiwanese hospitality management curriculum (Tsai, 2004). This is so because the Taiwanese hospitality education system has adopted these two developed approaches and created a program that created a program that fitted the Taiwanese culture. Tsai observes that the hospitality management institutes have collaborated with the industry in preparing its students for managerial positions but this approach is not complete.

To quote Tsai (2004): “Due to the rapid growth of the hospitality industry and the increasing number of hospitality management programs in Taiwan, it is important to consider what competencies meet the industry’s demand and what perceptions hospitality educators hold in promoting the hospitality industry and education.” Thus there is a need to develop curricula based on competencies as per the requirement of the hospitality industry.

Research on Hospitality Management Competencies

A study conducted by Wang (2001) on the professional competencies required for the front-end employees of the food and beverage sector in Taiwan. The study showed that the most relevant competencies required by the industry are education, language skills, professional appearance, and a hard-working attitude were four basic requirements of their duties.

Wu study (2001) was focused on the competencies required by managers in restaurant chains in Taiwan. He found that 27 competencies which were most important were technical competency and problem-solving and marketing management skills were the components most in demand for chain restaurant managers. Moreover, technical competency and problem solving competencies were also found the most frequently utilized competencies.

Lin Y. (2001) studied the student’s professional competencies in hospitality management schools and found that the professional competencies required of students as a matter of immediate urgency included language skills and computer applications.

A study of the Taiwanese hospitality curricula by Lin S. (2002) explored the relationships between hotel management courses and industry required competencies with 200 industry professionals. The results of the study indicated that the competencies relating to communication and adaptability were the most essential for career success. This study also showed that curriculum dimensions concerning finance/marketing/personal management, foreign languages and communication, and quality management were vital. Lin further concluded that there should be a balance between general education and specialized education, and that a continuing dialogue about course content between educators and industry practitioners was crucial in keeping curriculum current for meeting the needs of the industry.

Tsai, Goh, Huffman, and C. Kenny Wu (2006) based their study on the Sandwith model and found that there existed considerable difference in the competencies as perceived by hospitality educators and the industry. Forty-four of the sixty competencies reached consensus. They found that among the top tem ranked competencies only three matched in both the cases. They were: “Communicate efficiently (orally and in writing); Employ emotional quotient (EQ) such as emotional control and passion; Understand unique characteristics of lodging industry.” (p. 66)

Further is a gap in the expectation of perceptions of the recruiters and the competency of students. Research has demonstrated attrition of hospitality managers to be a vital problem (Guide to College Programs, 2002, 2004; Milman, 2002; Milman & Ricci, 2004; Walker, 2004). Ricci (2005) showed that new-hires brought into the industry with the intention of becoming a lodging manager in the future are expected to have a strong job competency base in knowledge, ability, and attitude.

The Perspective of Hospitality Managers

A survey conducted by Laureate Hospitality Education (2005) studied the perception of the hiring managers for recruiting graduates from campus. The survey was designed to gain insight into the needs and desires of leading hospitality industry employers, and therefore may not match the needs of a prospective student desiring information to make a decision about attending an institution of higher education. The survey showed that the attributes that were considered important by the recruiters in the entry level management trainees were: customer orientation, professional attitude, and respect to others.

Human-relations skills are frequently noted as highly valued in an organization. Tsai, Goh, Huffman, and C. Kenny Wu (2006) found that the competencies that are found to be crucial by the hospitality industry professional in Taiwan are shown in table 1.

Tsai et al. (2006) thus show that in Taiwan there is more stress imposed by the managers on competencies related to interpersonal skills, which stress on EQ, communication, knowledge about diverse culture and customs, etc. The other competencies that they deem important are leadership and conceptual competencies.

The Perspective of Hospitality Educators

Hospitality educators have looked to industry leaders for advice and feedback regarding the essential competencies that the graduates need for professional success since the first hospitality management program was established in the US in the 1920s (Kay & Russette, 2000). Hospitality educators remain concerned whether hospitality management programs are preparing hospitality students adequately. Partlow and Gregoire (1994) suggested that educators must continually identify and investigate the competencies that are recognized by the industry as being essential for successful managers.

Tsai, Goh, Huffman, and C. Kenny Wu (2006) found the top ten competencies that were perceived by the hospitality educators in Taiwan. These are shown in the following table (see table 2). The hospitality educators feel that apart from interpersonal, leadership and conceptual competencies, candidates must have administrative competencies. So it can be inferred that educators also puts stress on developing administrative competencies of students.

The Perspective of Hospitality Managers and Educators

The study by Tsai, Goh, Huffman, and C. Kenny Wu (2006) that there existed a lot of gap in the perception of the required competencies in entry level management trainees between the industry managers and the educators. In the top ten requirements ranked by the two groups only three competencies were similar. Hence we see that there exists a lot of gap in the understanding of both the parties.

The studies of the hospitality industry in Taiwan failed to assess the competencies that are expected of the students and what the curricula should be to meet the expectations of the industries. None of the research tries to bridge the gap in perceptions of the competencies required and the current educational system. Clearly there needs to be a curriculum which imbibes in the students the competencies that the students with experience have. The educators need to look into these facts before designing the curriculum for hospitality management. Further none of the studies suggested if the competencies that were found important were actually required professionally by the industry top management or were just the competencies that the employees possessed. The above mentioned studies do not try to evaluate the level of competency that the current educational system is equipped to deliver to its students and the gap it has from the industry requirements.

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