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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|3518||2010||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||12502 کلمه|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Hospitality Management, Volume 29, Issue 1, March 2010, Pages 108–119
The primary aims of this paper are two-fold: first, to consider the potential which exists for hotel management to establish a firm relationship with employment agencies to contribute to the deployment of right numbers and skills at the right place; and second, to assess whether both the hotels and employment agencies treat the flexible workers as a resource, or as a cost. The findings, based on 84 qualitative interviews, indicate that: there is a solid economic rationale that is likely to bind the incidence of flexible working practices to the wider recruitment strategies of the hotels; that the flexible firm models do not provide a full account of supply chain relationship between hotels and their partner agencies; and that the current management approach to labour flexibility conforms to a ‘hard’ version of HRM in that labour is treated as a variable cost. The findings suggest that flexible workers are highly likely disadvantaged in terms of access to training, career development, remuneration and other work-related practices than core employees. Overall, the data reveals that both dimensions of cost and, to a lesser extent, quality of the workforce provided by the employment agencies are central to the interests of the hotel management, thereby forming the backdrop to their decisions on whether to maintain these supply chain relationship with their partner agencies. Finally, the implications of these findings are discussed.
In the hotel sector, products provided have two dimensions: tangible (e.g. hotel rooms, restaurant meals and pub drinks) and intangible (e.g. warm greeting, speed, and outlet atmosphere). In addition to its service sector characteristics – i.e. intangibility, perishability, variability, simultaneous production and consumption, and inseparability – variability in demand is a feature of the sector which exerts considerable influence on its labour market characteristics (Guerrier and Lockwood, 1989 and Baum, 1995). Unlike most other service businesses, the hotel sector operates a 24/7/12/365 system and this, in itself, impacts upon the availability of labour, scheduling and rostering, remuneration, working conditions and employee welfare (see Rawstron, 1999). To put it in another way, the reality of hospitality work is that much of it is required at essentially antisocial times or at times when other people are at leisure. Such a 24/7/12/365 delivery model is extremely variable and, frequently, unpredictable. One implication of such highly fluctuating demand for the hotel services is that housekeeping employees frequently face demands on their personal time in the interests of their customers, which take them beyond contractual or, indeed, legal norms. In consequence, management of demand variability of the hospitality industry in general and hotel sector in particular has engendered a great deal of theoretical and empirical effort and has been the focus of considerable policy debate (see Geary, 1992, Atkinson, 1984, Atkinson, 1985, Williamson, 1985, Pollert, 1988, OECD, 1986, Pfeffer and Baron, 1988, Osterman, 1987, Handy, 1989, Marchington and Wilkinson, 2008 and Golsh, 2003). One response, of managers in the hotel sector, to the challenge of demand variation has been to seek greater flexibility in the workplace. Due to the importance of matching the needs of the worker with the needs of the business, researchers have attempted to conceptualise the working relationship between the individual worker and the firm in various ways (Peel and Boxall, 2005, p. 1676). Among the more popular frameworks are Atkinson's (1985) model of flexible firm and Handy's (1989) ‘shamrock organisation’. The flexible firm model envisages that the firm is flexible in terms of its adaptability to expansion, contraction or change in the product market. It increasingly seeks and achieves greater flexibility in the forms of functional, numerical and financial aspects of its workforce (Pollert, 1988 and Procter et al., 1994). In a similar vein, Handy's model of the shamrock organisation describes an organisation in terms of three leaves of the shamrock: the first leaf or group is core/permanent employees, the second is contractors, and flexible/part-time/temporary workers constitute the third leaf of the shamrock. On the basis of Atkinson's (1984) and Handy's models, others (e.g. Harrison and Bluestone, 1990, Rubery et al., 1987, Standing and Tokman, 1991, Rimmer and Zappala, 1988, Harrison and Kelly, 1993 and Golsh, 2003) differentiate between several different types of labour market flexibility: numerical, functional, wage, temporal, and procedural flexibility. These types of flexibility in turn have led to a growing proportion of workers in various non-standard employment relationships (see Pfeffer and Baron, 1988, Osterman, 1987, Williamson et al., 1975 and Jensen and Meckling, 1976). In Pollert's (1988, p. 281) view, flexibility has been stressed as an essential ingredient of economic progress by the OECD (1986); has informed the reconstitution of European labour law (Deakin, 1986); and in the British case, has dominated employment and economic policy. It has also been identified as a key managerial concern, and applied to all forms of employment outside the full-time—i.e. permanent contract such as part-time and temporary work (Hakim, 1987). A review of the literature on labour flexibility in the hospitality industry in general and hotel sector in particular reveals that much of the research on the topic has been concerned with the widespread ‘adoption’ of flexibility strategies. For example, various flexibility arrangements, variation in working hours or in numbers employed, improving employee deployment across tasks, choice of work location, or even change of employer, have been frequently acknowledged to minimise the labour costs, to achieve greater efficiency, to match between labour inputs and work outputs (Reilly, 1998, p. 16), and specifically, to manage demand fluctuations (Guerrier and Lockwood, 1989, p. 411). The ease of access to workforce had also led to greater use of flexible workers on an “as needed” or “just-in-time” basis in the hospitality industry (Walsh, 1991, p. 113). Wood (1999, p. 2) reported that the concept of outsourcing had been accepted as part of the fabric of hotel operations. Furthermore, Wood (1999) identified the housekeeping department as one of the most popular areas for external servicing. Other empirical studies have also concentrated on some of the determinants of specific types of labour flexibility (e.g. Abraham and Taylor, 1996, Harrison and Kelly, 1993 and Davis-Blake and Uzzi, 1993); on the demographic characteristics of flexible workers (Baker and Christensen, 1998); on the kinds of jobs staffed by flexible workers and the related industries (Mangum et al., 1985); or on predicting the use of flexible work arrangements (Gramm and Schnell, 2001 and Voudouris, 2004). Despite the large number of studies that have investigated the theory and practice of labour flexibility in the service industry and suggested that flexibility strategies are attracting considerable managerial interest, a deficiency in empirical data exists regarding, in Geary's (1992, p. 252) words, “those people's working lives these practices are designed to affect”—i.e. flexible workers themselves. What we currently know about labour flexibility in hotel sector lies at the intersection of two literatures: HRM and flexibility. Within both literatures, there has been much discussion of management's efforts to attain flexibility as a means to attain competitive success (e.g. DTI, 1995). It is discussed as a ‘leading edge’ practice and is therefore seen to be advantageous to employers (Geary, 1992, p. 252). However, a few studies have sought to examine the drama of these strategies’ attempted implementation. There is considerable amount of empirical evidence to answer the question, ‘what accounts for such management's resurgence of interest in labour flexibility’? However, there has been a relative dearth of research on the implications of flexibility and its associated practices for the flexible workers, or on the flexible workers’ perceptions of, and experiences with, flexible working—with the exception of Kunda et al. (2002) and Peel and Boxall (2005) whose work are (in)directly comparable to us (see Casey, 1988, Casey, 1991, Hakim, 1987, Marginson et al., 1988, Pollert, 1987, Wood and Smith, 1989 and Geary, 1992). The aforementioned shortcomings in previous research stem from two sources: the research methods employed, and the tendency to study flexible working from the point of view of those managers who had a policy-making responsibility in the organisation. Concerning the former, there has been an exclusive reliance on surveys as the main source of information on labour flexibility and its associated practices or relationships with, among others, national culture, outsourcing, downsizing or deregulation of the labour market (e.g. Buultjens and Howard, 2001, Voudouris, 2004, Black, 1999, Littler and Innes, 2003 and Harrison and Kelly, 1993). The survey-based (quantitative) methods, however, appear to be poorly suited to collect data which would allow conclusions about the actual adoption of flexibility and its implications for flexible workers. In the case of the latter source, the majority of previous survey research reflects the views expressed by management; views seen as reflecting the actual practice of flexible working practices (e.g. Benson et al., 2000). In other words, the respondents of the previous surveys were high level HR. This raises the question whether their responses are descriptive of the flexible working arrangements as practiced or as intended to be practiced (Bretz et al., 1992, p. 336). One explanation for this ambiguity is that flexibility practices are seen as an attempt by managers to drive down the costs and/or as a means of adjusting their workforce to changing market conditions ( Gramm and Schnell, 2001, Gonzalez-Diaz et al., 2000 and Voudouris, 2004). In consequence, the available research only reflects the views and perspectives of these managers. And, it remains unusual for employees to be asked how they evaluate the flexibility-related practices. The implication of such one-sidedness, according to Peel and Boxall, is that ‘it weakens our understanding of employment as a relationship’ (2005, p. 1675). This study addresses both of the above problems by adopting: first, a qualitative methodology; and second, collecting data from multiple perspectives. We believe that the findings help provide a detailed picture of the current state of labour flexibility practice and how they are perceived by flexible workers. The findings revealed that there were some obvious affinities between the management of housekeeping departments and their partner agencies in terms of their orientations toward flexible workers. The data indicated that what managers recognised and experienced as their rationale for flexible working arrangements differed considerably from what flexible workers recognised and valued as flexibility. This disparity was generated by a lack of understanding of flexible working practices at management level. While the soft model of HRM emphasises policies which endeavour to win employees’ commitment and motivation, both management and employment agencies seemed to treat the flexible workers as a variable cost. Indeed, the current managerial approach to labour flexibility practices conforms to the Michigan model of HRM (Fombrun et al., 1984; see also Randell, 1994, Storey, 1989 and Townley, 1991) not least because the flexible workers were managed in a similar manner to equipment and raw materials: they were obtained as cheaply as possible; were used sparingly; and were exploited as much as possible. The study also found that the quantity and quality of training courses were too limited to provide a career path for flexible workers or result in high organisational commitment (see Soltani, 2010). In sum, our review of the literature revealed that study of the nature and extent of labour flexibility is thought to be uniquely important because we presently have a limited understanding of exactly what flexible working means to the flexible workers; how it is perceived by the flexible workers; and how or whether it is linked to the development of flexible workers. Given these unanswered questions and the potential importance of labour flexibility in today's business organisations, our aim is to examine not only the similarities and differences between managements’ and flexible workers’ views towards flexibility arrangements, but also to explore the wider implications of any contradictions that might be embedded in their perceptions. Conducting a qualitative interview-based investigation, this study heeds the suggestion offered by Peel and Boxall (2005, p. 1693) that there is a need to deepen our understanding of the interactional dynamics of contracting and employment choices.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this paper the current state of labour flexibility practice of hotel housekeeping departments and their partner agencies have been discussed, in terms of four strands. The first strand relates to the need for labour flexibility. As the evidence showed, managers and flexible workers’ rationale for the flexibility are moving in two different and distinct directions: cost/control and flexibility. While for the managers, labour flexibility is widely adopted as cost-effective and a control mechanism, flexibility was mentioned to be a means to life-work balance by the flexible workers. The findings are in line with previous work by Guerrier and Lockwood (1989), Walsh (1991) and Geary (1992), which delineated (the hotel) management's quest for flexibility; and with Wood (1992, p. 2) who talked about flexibility as ‘a part of the fabric of hotel operations’. Walsh (1991, p. 113), for example, argued that labour can be purchased almost on an ‘as needed’ or ‘just-in-time’ basis within the hospitality sector. However, as we previously discussed, managements’ decisions on labour flexibility which were driven by merely cost and control requirements were unlikely to produce the planning of long-term and strategic human resource policies (see Rainbird, 1995, p. 348). The housekeeping departments may provide the flexible workers with higher job security – i.e. semi-permanent jobs – but this can amount to no more than the short-term fine-tuning of seasonality and demand fluctuations facing the hotel sector. The second strand centres on whether there are equal opportunities for the flexible workers. As the evidence showed, there is no requirement for the housekeeping departments to train, promote or even reward the agency flexible workers. While the current HR-related policies merely favoured the permanent workers, it was hard to analyse the effectiveness of the current HR practices for the flexible workers or to see whether such practices would extend to the flexible workforce in the foreseeable future. For example, in the majority of housekeeping departments performance-related pay schemes were only applied to the core workers; rewards and promotion policies were designed to improve only prospects for permanent staff; agency flexible workers did not have experience of any training beyond the initial induction. Despite all these disenchanting facts, very few agency or housekeeping managers attempted to tackle the current growing divide between the permanent and flexible workers (see Handy, 1989). Indeed, as Hyman (1991) acknowledges, and others (e.g. Beck, 2000, Sennett, 1998, Geary, 1992 and Pollert, 1991) clearly demonstrate, the flexibility debate ought to be viewed with scepticism because there is nothing new in it for the flexible workers, and that it is not necessarily the win-win game portrayed in the prescriptive literature (see Atkinson and Meager, 1986, Harrison and Kelly, 1993, Hutchinson and Brewster, 1994 and Kalleberg, 2001). The evidence strongly indicates that the current flexibility practices are too loosely applied. The third strand focuses on the sources of flexible labour, and in particular whether the current recruitment and selection decisions of the housekeeping departments address the increased complexity, greater ambiguity and rapid pace of change in the contemporary environment of hospitality industry. While the selective hiring is frequently included in the ‘bundles’ of best HR practice (Pfeffer, 1998, Patterson et al., 1997 and Beardwell and Wright, 2004), the current recruitment and selection process of the housekeeping departments pursued a ‘hard’ HRM search for new housekeeping workers in external labour markets—i.e. employment agencies. This implies a short-term focus, or an unwillingness or inability to invest in human resources (Storey and Sisson, 1993), i.e. emphasising on short-term utilisation of, and minimal investment in, employees. While, ‘hard’ HRM can also be seen as an approach that brings new skills, ideas and experiences into an organisation as they are needed (Schuler and Jackson, 1996), the dominant ‘hard’ HRM approach adopted by the housekeeping departments reflected only the financial constraints of the housekeeping departments rather than the needs of (disadvantaged) flexible workers. The fourth and final strand concerns the reality of labour flexibility and its implications for the flexible workers. While many previous researchers have viewed the pursuit of labour flexibility as a transformation from mass production to flexible specialisation (Piore and Sabel, 1984 and Mathews, 1989), the labour flexibility arrangements for the agency workers in the majority of housekeeping departments went no further than a declaration that they had a flexile working policy in place. Indeed, as the evidence showed, there has been relatively little achievement in terms of greater control and autonomy for the flexible workers, more rewarding and skilled jobs (Mathews, 1989), more mutually cooperative industrial relations (Clarke, 1992 and Peel and Boxall, 2005), and increased organisational commitment (Meyer and Allen, 1997 and Bartlett, 2001). The reality of labour flexibility practices in the housekeeping departments and their partner agencies conforms to the ‘low-road practices’ of Michie and Sheehan-Quinn's (2001, p. 287) study of labour market flexibility and corporate performance; and supports Fairbrother's (1991), Pollert's (1991) and Geary's (1992, p. 268) argument that behind the rhetoric may lie a more immediate and compelling demand to manage labour within strict budgetary guidelines. Clearly, the evidence presented in this paper suggests that managements’ – both housekeeping and their partner agency managers – orientations towards the flexible workforce are likely to continue to focus on either having numerical flexibility or losing functional flexibility (see Lai et al., 2008 and Soltani et al., 2009a). The research evidence is consistent with previous studies which highlighted multidimensional and somewhat paradoxical nature of labour flexibility (e.g. Boxall and Purcell, 2003, Legge, 1995 and Peel and Boxall, 2005). On the one hand, housekeeping managers’ orientations towards the flexible workers have some obvious affinities with Handy's model of the shamrock organization (Handy, 1989) in that the agency workers represent the third leaf of the shamrock: they are contracted to do non-essential work, to meet peaks and valleys in demand, thereby saving the organisation wages and benefits. On the other hand, managers’ orientations towards the agency workers seemed to be in conflict with the assumption made by the flexible firm model (Atkinson, 1984 and Atkinson, 1985) and similar literature on flexible working arrangements (e.g. Geary, 1992, Korpi and Levin, 2001 and Voudouris, 2004), who argue that a higher labour turnover rate will occur because of the employment of flexible labour. In simple terms, the flexible workers seemed to have a certain amount of job security and have the security of semi-permanent contracts—as opposed to fixed-term contracts claimed by the flexible model. According to the hotel management, their flexible workers have had high prospect of employment security. But in line with the flexible firm model, these workers are expected to be numerically flexible, who undertake a wider range of tasks at the same broad skill level (i.e. horizontal flexibility). Despite the semi-permanent nature of the agency workers in the housekeeping departments and their involvement in the day-to-day running of the hotel housekeeping activities, there was no intention to recognise, develop, and protect the flexible workforce. Such weakening attachments of the flexible workers, housekeeping departments and their partner agencies resulted in compromise and compliance commitment. Therefore, if flexible labour is to be taken as a valuable resource for the organisation (see Lepak and Snell, 1999, Coff, 1997) then there is a fundamental need for management to reconsider their understanding of and rationale for flexibility interventions, to realise the increased importance of flexible workers development and long-term commitment to the organisation, or as Handy (1989) argued, to manage them – regardless of their status – in a way that recognises their worth to the organisation.Clearly, the research findings which represent a small sample size of hotel housekeeping managers, their partner agency managers and their flexible workers restrict the generalizability of the findings to the wider population of similar contexts. However, as mentioned in Section 2, the necessary saturation of research themes for qualitative research was achieved and the sample number of hotels/their partner agencies and more importantly the number of interviews from multiple perspectives appeared to be adequate to confirm a general trend and meaningful associations in a more explorative manner (see Sandelowski, 1997). Based on the research findings and its limitation, a more comprehensive research into the current state of labour flexibility and its associated practices is recommended in other sectors of hospitality industry and more importantly in the context of less developed economies (see Soltani et al., 2009b) to examine, inter alia, the conditions under which managers might decide to develop the flexible workers as their full-time staff, or conditions under which a greater degree of manager-flexible worker mutuality (Peel and Boxall, 2005) can be achieved.