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Psychological safety and employee innovation in four- and five-star hotels in the UK

Alzyoud, Sultan Yousef (2019) Psychological safety and employee innovation in four- and five-star hotels in the UK. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

In the current turbulent and highly competitive environment, hotels’ management are under pressure to be innovative and improve their products and services continuously to meet and exceed guests’ expectations. Past studies have pointed to the importance of employee innovation in enhancing hotels’ service quality, customers’ satisfaction, hotels’ operations and financial performance. However, innovation activities such as proposing new ideas or trying different work procedures may involve uncertainty and risk; thus, it is crucial to understand what makes employees feel safe, also referred to in the literature as psychological safety, and encouraged to engage in the innovation. In order to achieve this aim, a mixed-methods approach is adopted that integrates both qualitative and quantitative methods. Five semi-structured interviews were undertaken with heads of department from four- and five-star hotels in Manchester to explore what encourages employee psychological safety and employee innovation in the hotel industry, from the management’s perspective. Based on the results from the interviews and in light of the literature, a conceptual model was developed and tested using quantitative methods in the second phase of the study. A survey questionnaire was constructed and distributed to employees in the UK four- and five-star hotels in which 105 samples were used to test the model. Structural equation modelling analysis was used to test the research’s model and hypotheses. The study found that psychological safety is associated positively with employee innovation. Furthermore, leader inclusiveness, respectful relationships amongst staff in the hotel and autonomy were found to be related to psychological safety. Leader inclusiveness and role clarity were found to be correlated with autonomy, whereas respectful relationships and autonomy are also associated with proactive personality. Furthermore, proactive personality was found to be related to employee innovation directly. Building on knowledge and understanding of these factors can help hotels’ management to cultivate and encourage innovative behaviour by their employees, which, in turn, can enhance service quality and hotels’ performance. This thesis provides an original model that explains the mechanism of how employee innovation can be motivated through the mediation of psychological safety, which is a neglected construct in the hospitality industry.

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