A sustainable hospitality and tourism workforce research agenda – exploring the past to create a vision for the future

Mooney, Shelagh and Baum, Tom; (2019) A sustainable hospitality and tourism workforce research agenda – exploring the past to create a vision for the future. In: A Research Agenda for Tourism and Development. Research Agenda . Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

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This chapter addresses the need for a research agenda to achieve the goal of a sustainable hospitality and tourism workforce, globally. Inhospitable working conditions, as well as the exploitation of vulnerable workers, is widespread in the sector across different locations and contexts (McIntosh and Harris 2012). Yet attention paid to these issues is marginal, not only in the sustainable tourism debate (Baum 2018; Baum et al. 2016a) but in other arenas of tourism development. The neglect may be attributable to the tourism academy’s tendency to avoid contentious or unpalatable topics (Mooney et al. 2017; Ram et al. 2016, p. 201). However, it may also result from the ‘disconnect’ between separate avenues of research in tourism and hospitality institutions, namely studies which focus on the tourist experience; tourism and hospitality management; and critical management research, which explores the employment of individuals in the sector, frequently taking a ‘problematizing’ view. In the tourism management literature, the extant literature has focused on the ways individuals negotiate their working lives or how particular organizations engage with their workers (Baum 2013; Baum et al. 2016b), and the interactions between levels have been neglected. Consequently, there have been few attempts to link the plethora of employment issues in tourism and hospitality. These troubling issues include, inter alia, low pay, precarious security, poor working conditions, high labour turnover, intersectional disadvantage, occupational ghettoization and employee sexual and physical abuse that can represent modern slavery. They need to be set in a wider social, cultural and economic context as the basis for coherent policy formulation.