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Human capital investment for front-line non managerial employees in the hospitality sector in Dubai (U.A.E.)

Karanikola, Ioanna (2015) Human capital investment for front-line non managerial employees in the hospitality sector in Dubai (U.A.E.). Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The topic of this research is “Human Capital Investment for front-line non managerial employees in the hospitality sector in Dubai (U.A.E)”. The purpose of this research is to explore the commitment towards human capital investment offered by five star hotels in Dubai to lower level employees within the Rooms and Food and Beverage departments from a training perspective. Dubai is known for its worldwide reputation of delivering high quality service and luxury products to its international clientele. Dubai is attracting millions of guests into the hotels every year, and forecasting a tremendous growth of the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors in future. Despite its oil production, Dubai has realised the potential and growth of these sectors as well as retail, medical and finance. Hence, this laid emphasis on the responsibility of hotel companies to offer quality training to its workforce in order to continue with growth, success, expansion plans, and increased worldwide reputation. Furthermore, the country is a creator of employment since it is heavily dependent on labour migrants and expatriates, originating from all over the world, attracting primarily people from the Subcontinent, Asian, European, and other Middle Eastern countries. Consequently, a much-diversified workforce with different levels of education, skills, and background is employed in the hospitality industry. Therefore, there is a need to conduct this study focusing on the following aims. Firstly, to examine the current human capital needs for employees in the hospitality sector in Dubai (U.A.E.). Secondly, to consider and evaluate current efforts by hotel training departments to devise and deliver training to front-line employees. Thirdly, to assess employees’ views regarding the current investment in human capital and to identify areas for improvement. Lastly, to develop a training model underlining the importance of HCI and its constructs within five star hotels in Dubai (U.A.E.). This was achieved through both primary and secondary research. Based on the literature review a suggested training model was developed which kept changing according to the results of the primary research. The methodological approach of this study is twofold. A mixed methods approach is been adopted and hence the study starts with the collection of data through the qualitative phase including interviews with Learning and Development Directors/managers of five star hotels, followed by observations of training programmes. The second phase relates to the quantitative data collection with the use of a questionnaire self-administered to front-line employees of five star hotels in Dubai. The key findings of this study demonstrate that the company regards front-line employees as key assets and hence human capital investment in five star hotels in Dubai is high. Furthermore, there is organisational and management support towards training, which supports the function of the Learning and Development department despite being just a support department. The effectiveness of the Learning and Development department is reflected upon the adequacy of the training department, and high levels of satisfactions are expressed by front-line employees as well as by Learning and Development managers. Because of these training interventions, positive outcomes are associated with employees, customers and organisations. Furthermore, front-line employees agree that because of training, benefits relate not only to their knowledge, skills, and abilities but also to their attitude and behaviour. Learning and Development managers expressed concerns with challenges closely link to the Human Resource practices as well as lack of support by line-managers, whereas front-line employees shared high levels of satisfaction with line-managers support towards their training and developmental activities. Furthermore, despite the effectiveness of the Learning and Development, a major weakness relates to the lack of evaluation and follow up which in turn results to lack of reporting return-on-investment to executive board as well as shareholders. The study hence developed two additional models based on each set of results. Besides, by using data triangulation the study recommends a training model underlining the importance of HCI and its constructs within five star hotels in Dubai based on the new constructs emerged from the findings. Conclusions are drawn based on model 4 which explains human capital investment from a training perspective in the luxury hotel sector within Dubai reflecting on the contribution to academic knowledge as well as limitations and suggestions for further research are proposed.

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