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Organisational attractiveness in the Taiwanese hotel sector: perceptions of indigenous and non-indigenous employees.

1. Introduction

Employees typically have expectations concerning a range of features about the organisations that employ them and the degree to which these expectations are met, may determine whether they feel a part of the organisation and want to continue their employment (Currivan, 2000). Employees must have reasons, such as tangible or intangible rewards, or a positive workplace culture, in order to maintain a desire to remain employed in an organisation (De Cieri et al., 2008). Organisations are increasingly focussing on better utilising human resources for competitive advantage and consequently, should be aware of organisational factors that attract job applicants and/or retain current employees. The attractiveness of companies during the recruitment process is crucial, as recruiting a talented labour force is central to business success (Ng & Burke, 2005). In addition, managers also strive to minimise employee turnover, thereby decreasing training costs, recruitment costs and the loss of talent and organisational knowledge. Employee turnover results in a high cost to companies, seriously hindering efficient, effective customer service, and undermining productivity and competitiveness such that employee retention is as important to business success as customer retention (Frank, Finnegan, & Taylor, 2004; Siong, Mellor, Moore, & Firth, 2006). In the hospitality sector, perhaps more so than other industries, high staff turnover is a major factor affecting efficiency, productivity and hotel cost structures (Lashley & Chaplain, 1999). The hotel labour market has two key characteristics; not only it is difficult to attract suitable labour but it also has relatively high levels of turnover, representing a significant loss of investment in human capital, training and quality. Furthermore, labour turnover represents a particular problem to management in the hospitality sector as there is no standard reason why people leave organisations (Ongori, 2007).

Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce is especially crucial to hospitality organisations. In today's global hospitality industry, people are working with customers and colleagues from a wide range of cultures. Hotels welcome an increasing number of international travellers from all over the world and require and expect an increasingly diverse workforce (Yang, Flynn, & Anderson, 2014). Globalisation and internationalisation of the workforce puts additional pressures on the management of human resources. Accordingly, Kim and Mauborgne (2005) suggests that traditional working environments comprised of similar people with similar experiences in decision-making groups, can result in the loss of competitive advantage which could be described as Red Ocean strategy. On the other hand, having people from more diverse cultural backgrounds, with wider experiences is known to produce more creative and innovative strategies, characterised by innovation and boundary-less markets which is described as Blue Ocean strategy (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005). Moreover, in a dynamic work environment where the HR configuration is constantly changing, the challenge of ensuring consistent approaches to ethical procedures and employee well-being is also crucial. Findler, Wind, and Barak (2007) suggested that organisations should implement fair policies, promotion procedures, training programmes, and mentorship that promote inclusion of diverse employees such as women, members of minority ethnic and racial groups, immigrants, and less educated and nonprofessional employees. An inclusive workplace respects all cultural perspectives represented among its employees and supports employees' sense of empowerment (Waight & Madera, 2011). Furthermore, organisations should strive to constantly modify their values and norms to accommodate a broad range of employees. Diversity does not only benefit the business but is also important to employee well-being. The literature indicates that diversity management offers a useful construct that can contribute to the development of organisational interventions to improve employee well-being, job satisfaction, and retention (Turner, Huemann, & Keegan, 2008).

To effectively manage a diverse workforce, a deep understanding of employees' needs and wants is crucial. Therefore, this paper aims to: initially determine the key organisational features (including diversity) that employees consider important to attract them to work for organisations in the Taiwanese hospitality setting; secondly, explore to what extent diversity is important to Taiwanese employees; and finally, determine how satisfied employees are about elements of diversity in the organisations in which they work. The findings and conclusions are then framed in terms of their implications for enhancing the management of diversity and improved recruitment and retention initiatives in the hospitality sector.

2. Literature review

2.1. Organisational attractiveness

2.1.1. Job attributes

Traditionally, recruitment research has focused on job and company attributes, such as salary, location, size, and type of industry, as the major determinants of applicants' attraction to organisations (Cable & Graham, 2000; Turban, Forret, & Hendrickson, 1998b). Job attributes are often classified and measured as the applicant's perception of what is expected concerning specific missions and tasks in a particular work role (Taylor & Bergmann, 1987). The associations between job attributes and organisational attractiveness are well established and research has identified a number of key features including: job tasks (Turban, Forret, & Hendrickson, 1998a); salary and payment (Aiman-Smith, Bauer, & Cable, 2001); time schedule flexibility (Rau & Hyland, 2002); job security (Chapman, Uggerslev, Carroll, Piasentin, & Jones, 2005); the type of work to be performed (Carless, 2005); and, challenging and interesting levels of tasks (Lievens & Highhouse, 2003).

2.1.2. Company attributes

A range of broader attributes related to the overall company are also frequently used to attract job applicants when delivering recruitment messages. Such attributes can be defined as a perception of what the organisation is capable of providing in terms of policies, practices and work conditions (Eweje & Bentley, 2006). Perceptions about these attributes are built on the basis of expectations of characteristics such as job security, career development, salary and other benefits. Most research findings demonstrate that employee perceptions of company attributes are more likely to predict employee perceptions about levels of organisational attractiveness. These attributes include: workplace policies (Chapman et al., 2005); human resource practices (Lievens & Highhouse, 2003); diversity management strategies (Williams & Bauer, 1994); and, lay-off procedures (Aiman-Smith et al., 2001).

2.1.3. Diversity attributes

More recently, there has been an increasing awareness that the ability of an organisation to attract and retain people from more diverse cultural backgrounds may lead to competitive advantage and improved cost structures due to maintaining the highest quality human resources. According to Joppe (2012) the entrenched problems of shortages of skilled staff, high levels of staff turnover and high levels of business failure (especially in the tourism and hospitality sector), can potentially be alleviated by encouraging diversity. McKay, Avery, and Morris (2008), had earlier argued that organisations are increasingly using work teams as functional tools to enhance employee performance and achieve strategic objectives. As the workforce becomes increasingly diverse, these teams are also likely to become increasingly diverse. According to Guzman (2000), several studies predict that the global workforce will continue to become more diverse due to more affordable transportation options and more widespread immigration.

These trends should consequently mean that organisations will be increasingly forced to hire and retain a diverse set of employees in order to retain a competitive advantage. Turner et al. (2008) argued that the core function of human resources departments has evolved from simple regulatory compliance to now more emphasis on motivating a diverse array of employees to apply their different skills and abilities to deliver higher levels of performance. Shaw (2004) demonstrated that the benefits of effective diversity management can include a positive effect on the organisation through recruitment, increased business market growth, increased creativity and innovation, higher-quality problem solving, enhanced leadership outcomes, and more effective global relationships. In order to gain the most talented applicants in a globally competitive context, organisations must attract, retain, and promote exceptional employees from all backgrounds (Shaw, 2004). Taken together, these studies provide a rationale for increasing organisational diversity and valuing a diverse workforce in order to enhance employee performance and organisational outcomes. Hotel managers must have a sound understanding of the needs of employees so that they feel a part of and want to stay employed in that organisation, which in turn may improve their work outcomes. Through identifying the nature and impact of the attraction of organisational diversity attributes on employees' job decisions, insights can be gained into how to improve organisational recruitment and retention strategies.

Moreover, while ethnicity is one of the major foci of business research on diversity (Chow & Crawford, 2004; Montalvo & Reynal-Querol, 2002; Waight & Madera, 2011), it seems there have been no studies investigating diversity attributes in Taiwanese organisations. Nearly 2% of Taiwan's population is indigenous (439,000 in a total population of more than 23 million), which is a similar proportion to the indigenous populations of Canada (3%) and Australia (1.8%) (Munsterhjelm, 2002). The chairman of the Taiwan Council of Indigenous Peoples argued that the priority of the Taiwanese government should be to attract more local and international tourists by promoting Taiwanese indigenous tourism (Mo, 2005). While, prior to 2005 there was no equal opportunity employment for indigenous people in the hospitality industry, between 2006 and 2010, the percentage of indigenous people working in this sector increased from 6.6% to 8.5%, compared to 6.8% for general employment. However, the unemployment rate of indigenous people is still .40% higher than that of the general population (Council of Indigenous Peoples, 2010). Given the dearth of research in this area, the increasing numbers of indigenous employees in the hospitality industry and the Taiwanese government's emphasis on indigenous tourism, this study examined the perceptions of indigenous and non-indigenous employees about a range of organisational attractiveness features, including diversity.

2.2. Impacts of diversity on customers and employees

Increasing the levels, and enhanced management of organisational diversity can result in a number of advantages, particularly in service organisations. Many researchers have demonstrated that effective diversity management can increase international orientation and team performance, improve business decision making and innovation, enhance service quality and image, foster equity opportunities, provide competitive advantage and increase productivity (Chavan, 2005; Dickie & Soldan, 2008; Diefendorff, Richard, & Gosserand, 2006; Dunphy, 2004; Guzman, 2000; Hamilton, Nickerson, & Owan, 2004; Luthans, 2012; Maxwell, 2004; Salomon & Schork, 2003; Strachan, French, & Burgess, 2009; Waight & Madera, 2011). More importantly, the hospitality sector, as a component of the service industry, is characterised by the crucial importance of interactions between employees and customers. How hotel staff provide customers with exceptional service quality is an essential part of a hotel's success. The behaviour of all employees, whether or not they are on the frontline dealing with customers, will directly affect the quality of customer service. With increasing globalisation affecting the hospitality industry due to the growth of cross-cultural contacts with a range of workers and customers, there is a need for business leaders and managers to strategically manage cultural diversity and interaction in their organisations. People travel all over the world, not only for holidays, but also for business, education, health and other purposes. This has increased the market for the hospitality industry and in order to generate income from this diverse range of visitors, it is necessary to meet the demands of an increasingly diverse customer base with varied needs. For example, international hotel groups such as the Intercontinental and the Hilton have realised the importance of a diverse workforce with consequent impacts on their recruitment processes, diversity policies and service delivery (Yang et al., 2014). Organisations that are receptive to hiring diverse employees are more likely to better understand the increasingly complex needs of both domestic and global customers and, therefore, compete more effectively (American Hospitality Academy, 2005; Richard, Barnett, Dwyer, & Chadwick, 2004).

On the other hand, organisations that don't effectively manage a diverse workforce, could suffer more from group conflict (Jehn & Chatman, 2000), negative competition (Reagans, 2005), communication difficulties (Abdel-Monem, Bingham, Marincic, & Tomkins, 2010) and higher level of employees stress. Earley and Mosakowski (2000) also found that moderately heterogeneous groups showed relationship conflict and communication problems creating a poor and ineffective work environment (Davis, 2005). Improved communication and cooperation can promote creativity and increase productivity. In addition, indigenous Taiwanese are ethnically distinct from non-indigenous Taiwanese, both culturally and linguistically (Council of Indigenous Peoples, 2010). This increases the potential for indigenous Taiwanese to be labelled as an "other" and different which could lead to stereotyping them as lazy, unproductive, consumers of alcohol, and lawless, or good at singing and dancing and natural born athletes (Munsterhjelm, 2002). Such stereotypes could influence the attitudes and behaviour of prospective employers and co-workers.

2.3. Social identity theory and organisational diversity

While a number of theories have been used to study organisational diversity such as similarity-attraction paradigm (Byrne, 1971), macrostructural inquiry (Blau, 1977) and social identity theory (Tajfel, 1982), this current study adopts social identity theory as a conceptual framework to underpin the research.

According to social identity theory, individuals define themselves through a process of self-categorisation; defining oneself as a member of a particular social category (e.g. based on ethnicity, gender or age). It is likely therefore that some co-workers will be viewed as being members of an in-group or out-group. Interacting with those identified as being in one's social category acts to reinforce self-identity, subsequently enhancing group integration and communication (Inkelas, 2003). Social identity theory argues that organisations with workforces perceived as similar or dissimilar to oneself will be more or less attractive as a place of employment. The theory further posits that individuals who are similar, will be interpersonally attracted or in the context of organisations, will be more attracted to jobs or organisations with certain characteristics perceived to match their own (Ehrhart & Ziegert, 2005).

Social identity theory has been well utilised in organisational research. For example, studies have shown that the effect of a range of job and organisational characteristics (e.g., salary levels, organisation size, image and reputation of an employer) on organisational attractiveness depends on the applicants' demographic characteristics, individuality and values. Job applicants are more attracted when the perceived job and company attributes are related to their own characteristics (Berthon, Ewing, & Hah, 2005; Lievens & Highhouse, 2003; Turban et al., 1998a). As such, diversity attributes may be important factors attracting potential employees who share similar diversity characteristics. The social identification process refers to the individual's self-perceptions, which are derived from the individual's awareness of their membership in the social group, together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership. Being in the minority may have considerable effects on an individual's experiences in the workplace, particularly the feeling of isolation in work groups and sense of separation from the mainstream. Specifically, social identity theory notes that individuals tend to support and positively evaluate the groups that embody salient aspects of their own social identities because it builds their self-esteem and maintains a positive self-identity. A work unit in which the individual is similar to others in terms of demographic characteristics may therefore increase the individual's identification with that work group. In turn, it is likely that identification with a work unit enhances support and commitment to that group (Ashforth & Mael, 1996). Erez and Gati (2004) suggested that organisations with different levels of diversity experience dissimilar dynamics of organisational outcomes. Thus, it is proposed that different degrees of organisational diversity might be associated with different perceptions of organisational attractiveness by individuals from different ethnic backgrounds.

Although social identity theory has been used extensively in relational research on diversity, applications of the theory have assumed that it is equally applicable to all people. In the Western context, social identity theory identifies intergroup comparison as a key source of in-group identification. In contrast, the East Asia context is often considered as having a collectivistic focus, which is based largely on the promotion of cooperative behaviours and maintenance of relational harmony within groups (Hofstede, 2001). As a result, the Asian perception of self is personally connected with other members of the in-group. Asians' in-group representations involve a network of such interpersonal connections rather than a differentiation between in-groups and out-groups. On the basis of traditional social identity theory and the characteristic of East Asia collectivism, the researchers argue that contrary to group identification as understood by social identity theory, East Asia collectivism is an intragroup rather than an intergroup phenomenon. In keeping with this point of view, it can be suggested that Westerners (culture of individualism) tend to demonstrate stronger in/outgroup membership than do people in the East Asia culture of collectivism. Social identity theory predicts that groups that are similar should be especially motivated to show intergroup differentiation. However, social identity theory may not hold true among similar groups, thus the researchers adopted the elements of the social identity (e.g., categorisation, identification and comparison) that help this study better investigate diversity impacts and provide a basic framework for understanding complex social situations in the workplace.

Moreover, research has suggested that being the minority may impact on people differently (Cunningham & Sagas, 2004; McKay & McDaniel, 2006), and it seems that the effects of being different are not the same for ethnic minorities as they are for ethnic majority members. The researchers argue that group perceptions in the two cultures (e.g. indigenous and non-indigenous in Taiwan) may derive partly from different cognitive foundations. Specifically, there may be differences in how people perceive their own and others' identity, and that these differences may be perception and knowledge oriented, arising independent of the intergroup context. When people only perceive and recognise human characteristics as reified and apparent, they may see these characteristics as arising from particular group memberships. For instance, ethnicity could be a central element of self-definition and may be an important social identity for particular groups. This suggests that a better understanding of how this construct is viewed across cultures is needed. That is, the researchers aim to determine whether there are differences in perceptions of organisational attractiveness between minority and majority groups in Taiwanese hotels with different levels of ethnic diversity.

3. Methods

A mixed-method approach was utilised for this research. In Phase One, semi-structured interviews were employed to identify the important organisational features that attracted potential employees. These findings were then used in the development of a survey instrument used in Phase Two. The survey incorporated an Importance Performance Analysis (IPA) of key organisational attractiveness factors derived from the interviews.

3.1. Phase one

While this paper focuses on the results of Phase Two, an overview of Phase One is also briefly presented as the results from the qualitative study informed the subsequent quantitative phase. The initial stage comprised 24 interviews with a sample consisting of eight employees from each of three hotels, representing three different levels of ethnic diversity. The sample was derived using a combination of snowball and purposive sampling. The hotels were classified as either having a: low level of ethnic diversity (LED) (e.g., 18% of indigenous employees); medium level of ethnic diversity (MED) (e.g., 32% of indigenous employees); high level of ethnic diversity (HED) (e.g., 48% of indigenous employees). The semistructured interviews asked: "What attributes attracted you to work in this hotel?" and "What attributes would attract you to another organisation?" The interviews were recorded, transcribed and then each interview transcript was sent to the relevant participant for validation purposes. Once validated, the data were analysed using NVivo 7.

A range of key organisational attractiveness categories emerged from the analysis. These attributes were summarised as salary and employment conditions, job suitability, job interest, job security, opportunities for rapid advancement, training opportunities, reputation and image of the company, level of work environment harmony, clarity of rewards and discipline systems, stability of company systems, location of the company, desire for increasing numbers of ethnic minorities at workplace and the proportion of employees with a similar ethnic background.

3.2. Phase two

3.2.1. Sample and procedure

The target population was composed of hotel employees in small to medium hotels in Taiwan. These hotels were chosen for two main reasons. First, the information from managers interviewed in Phase One indicated that small to medium hotels in Taiwan were more likely to hire indigenous employees than were five-star hotels. Second, Blau (1977) suggested that smaller sized organisations offer a better platform for organisational diversity studies due to their increased levels of interactions. The sizes of hotels included in this study ranged from 30 to 80 employees with a minimum room number of 60. In terms of geographic location, three counties, Hualien, Taitung and Pingtung, were included because almost half of the indigenous population in Taiwan resides in these three counties. Purposive sampling was used in order to obtain a representative sampling frame for this study. Based on the researchers' network, 37 hotels were contacted and asked about the proportion of indigenous employees working in the hotels. Only hotels that had indigenous employees (a total of 22) were included in the study.

The surveys were distributed systematically utilising snowball and convenience sampling methods. In the snowball sampling process, the researcher's networks were used to access employees and managers who had participated in the interviews who were then asked to nominate and provide contact details of hotels with varying proportions of indigenous employees. Following an initial contact with managers of these nominated hotels to explain the purpose and parameters of the study, and after gaining agreement, the researcher distributed surveys within the hotels. The managers accompanied the researcher to each department and the surveys were delivered to the employees by hand. Each respondent also received an accompanying letter detailing the purpose of the study, informed consent details and an information sheet that included a request for respondents to return the completed survey to a designated collection point in their respective organisations. In an attempt to gather as many responses as possible, both mail (with reply-paid envelope) and online methods were also made available for some hotels that preferred these approaches. Of the 758 surveys distributed to the 22 participating hotels, a total of 305 completed valid surveys were returned (40.2% response rate).

3.2.2. Measures

A literature review and the results from Phase 1 of this study were used to generate a list of organisational attractiveness attributes. As in Thomas and Wise's (1999) study, the attributes used in previous studies with Cronbach's alpha of .78-.86 (see Avery, Hernandez, & Hebl, 2004; Lievens & Highhouse, 2003), were listed and then additional input to the list was obtained from the in-depth interviews conducted in Phase 1. Thirteen organisational attractiveness attributes, covering job features (e.g., job suitability), as well as overall company (e.g., corporate image and reputation) and specific organisational diversity attributes (e.g., ethnic composition of organisation), were utilised in the study.

The questionnaire contained three parts. Part One collected employees' demographic and work-related information (e.g., ethnicity, age and gender). Part Two asked employees to rate the importance of the 13 organisational attractiveness attributes on a five-point Likert-type scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).

Finally, Part Three asked employees to rate the actual performance of these attributes on a five-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly dissatisfied) to 5 (strongly satisfied). The questionnaire was translated into Chinese using the translation/backtranslation procedure as described by Brislin and Anderson (1976) to ensure the equivalence of both versions of the questionnaire. A pilot test with a convenience sample of 34 Taiwanese hotel employees was performed, and Cronbach's alphas of the latent constructs ranged from .83 to .89, indicating satisfactory internal reliability (Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994).

3.2.3. Participating hotels by levels of ethnic diversity

The 22 hotels were coded from A to V and the level of indigeneity for each hotel, was used to divide participating organisations into low, medium and high levels of ethnic diversity (see Table 1). The researchers classified that a hotel with less than or equal to 30% of indigenous employees is an organisation with a low level of ethnic diversity (LED). A hotel with more than 30% but less than 40% of indigenous employees is seen as an organisation with a medium level of ethnic diversity (MED). The hotels with 40% or more indigenous employees were then categorised as organisations with a high level of ethnic diversity (HED).

3.2.4. Demographic characteristics of the sample

Demographic characteristics of the sample are displayed in Table 2. The sample comprised 172 (56.4%) indigenous and 133 (43.6%) non-indigenous employees. There were more than twice as many women (69.2%) than men (30.8%) and most respondents were aged 25-34 years (51.8%), followed by 35-44 years (28.7%). The remainder were 18-24 years (12.5%) or 45-55 (7.0%). The highest education level achieved for more than half of respondents was senior high school (52.3%), followed by junior high school or less (27.2%) and those with college education or above (20.5%). More than two-thirds of respondents were non-managers (68.2%) and almost one third had managerial positions (31.8%).

3.2.5. Data analysis

SPSS 17.0 software was utilised to analyse data collected in Phase 2. Internal reliability was determined using Cronbach's alpha and all scales in the study recorded acceptable internal consistency ([alpha] > 0.70) (Cronbach, 1951). Factor analysis was performed on the measurements of key attractiveness features for the purposes of data reduction and the results of the factor analysis were then used to see if these attributes could be used with confidence for further analysis. Analysis using paired t-tests was also conducted in order to determine any significant gaps between employee expectations and satisfaction for each of the attractiveness features. Organisational attractiveness was further compared across hotels with different levels of ethnic diversity by performing ANOVA. To compare the perceptions of indigenous and non-indigenous employees' about expectations and satisfaction, independent sample t-tests and ANOVA were also conducted. These analyses compared the means of the indigenous and non-indigenous employees' importance and performance measures within hotels with different levels of ethnic diversity.

4. Results

4.1. Perceived importance of key organisational attractiveness features

The importance scale included 13 items. The KMO (Kaiser-Mayer-Olkin) was used to quantify the degree of intercorrelations among variables. The KMO for this scale was .834, which showed convergent validity for all statements with factor loadings exceeding the recommended value of .6 (Coakes & Steed, 1999; Leonard & Levine, 2006). Bartlett's Test of Sphericity (Bartlett, 1954) reached statistical significance (p = 0.000), supporting the suitability of the correlation matrix for factor analysis. Three factors were extracted with eigenvalues greater than 1 and the total variance explained by the three-factor solution was 66.8%. Thirteen statements had factor loadings of .618 or higher and no item showed cross-loading over .3 (Preacher & MacCallum, 2003), so all original items were retained in the scale and each of the factors consisted of at least two items or more. Factor scores are presented in Table 3.

Reliability analyses were then utilised to test the internal consistency of the factors with each recording a Cronbach's alpha of .84 or above. The items for each of the factors were summed and averaged to form a new composite variable score. The factors were labelled as: Factor 1--"importance of job attributes"; Factor 2--"importance of diversity attributes"; and, Factor 3--"importance of company attributes". These factors were then utilised as three categories of organisational attractiveness in further analyses.

4.2. Perceived performance of key organisational attractiveness features

The same 13 attribute statements were included in the measurement of employee satisfaction Table 4 displays the results of the factor analysis for performance of the key organisational attractiveness. The factor analysis also revealed a three-factor solution, with eigenvalues exceeding 1 and explained a total of 68.2% of the variance. The lowest factor loading of the statements was .612 and no item showed cross-loading above .3. All three factors had a Cronbach's alpha of .85 or above, which showed strong internal consistency for each factor and all original 13 statements in the scale were retained. The three factors were labelled as: Factor 1--"performance of job attributes"; Factor 2--"performance of company attributes"; and, Factor 3--"performance of diversity attributes". The factors were then utilised to represent the three categories of organisational attractiveness in the subsequent analyses.

In addition to reliability analyses of the scales, a correlation analysis was used to test the interrelationships among the six company attribute factors. All the factors were significantly correlated at the .01 level indicating significant positive correlations between the factors ranging from .197 to .573 (Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003). Table 5 presents the correlation matrix showing the relationships between the importance and performance measures.

4.3. Differences between perceived importance and performance

The results of the IPA are displayed in Table 6. The findings indicated relatively high importance results for all job attributes across all three types of hotels with means ranging from 3.98 to 4.13. The job attributes included: level of salary and wealth, job suitability, job security, challenging and interesting work, training opportunities, opportunities for rapid advancement. These findings can be linked to the results from Phase 1 which indicated that salary level was a common reason for attracting employees. The t-test results show that overall, employees rated the importance of the job attributes significantly higher than performance. Employees in all three types of organisation indicated that the performance of the job attributes did not meet their expectations. Moreover, the ANOVA findings suggest that employees in hotels with high levels of ethnic diversity report significantly lower importance mean scores than those in hotels with medium and low levels of ethnic diversity. No significant differences were found between hotels with differing levels of ethnic diversity in the job attributes performance mean scores.

The company attributes included features such as: location; clear policies; friendly work environment; co-worker relationships; and company image and reputation. The t-test results indicated that hotels with medium and high levels of ethnic diversity did not meet employee expectations. In all three types of hotels, the satisfaction mean scores were significantly lower than the importance mean scores. Furthermore, the ANOVA analysis indicated that employees in hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity recorded significantly lower importance and performance mean scores than employees in hotels with medium and high levels of ethnic diversity.

The analysis revealed that diversity was an important aspect of the workplace in hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity. Employees in these hotels rated the importance of the diversity attributes significantly higher than performance. Diversity attributes included: ethnic and gender composition of the organisation; the majority of employees are of my ethnic background; and the majority of employees are the same as my gender. This suggests that hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity did not meet employee expectations. However, there was no significant difference between importance and performance mean scores in hotels with medium and high levels of ethnic diversity. The ANOVA analysis revealed that employees in hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity report significantly lower performance mean scores for the diversity attributes than employees in hotels with medium and high levels of ethnic diversity. No significant differences were found in importance mean scores across all three types of hotels. The findings indicate that employees in hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity report lower performance mean scores than those in hotels with medium and high levels of ethnic diversity. Employees in hotels with a low level of ethnic diversity also recorded a significant lower performance score on the organisational diversity attribute.

The results summarised in Table 7 illustrate that the importance mean scores for the job attributes were significantly higher than both the company and organisational diversity attributes. On the other hand, diversity was the least well performing attribute among the employees. The diversity attributes performance mean scores were significantly lower than both the job and the company attributes performance mean scores.

4.4. Difference between indigenous and non-indigenous employees

4.4.1. Importance of key organisational attractiveness features

As noted by Thomas and Wise (1999), employees who come from different demographic backgrounds may have distinct views on what organisational features are important to them and these differences may contribute to the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the employees. It is useful to examine differences between indigenous employees' and non-indigenous employees' evaluations in order for organisations to develop strategies to attract and retain a diverse range of employees. In the previous section, IPA was used to rate the importance and performance of three categories of key organisational attractiveness features; this section reports any differences in the views of indigenous and non-indigenous employees regarding the importance of these attractiveness features (see Table 8).

The comparison of the mean scores from indigenous and non-indigenous employees showed that in hotels with medium and low levels of ethnic diversity, indigenous employees rated the importance of organisational diversity significantly higher than did non-indigenous employees. However, there were no significant differences found between indigenous and non-indigenous employees in hotels with high levels of ethnic diversity. The analysis also demonstrated that there were no significant differences in the importance of both job and company attributes between indigenous and non-indigenous employees in all three types of hotels with different levels of ethnic diversity.

Moreover, the results of the ANOVA analysis indicated that non-indigenous employees in hotels with high levels of ethnic diversity report significantly lower job attributes importance mean scores than those in hotels with medium and low levels of ethnic diversity. No significant differences were found in the job attributes importance mean scores across all three types of hotels. On the other hand, indigenous employees in hotels with high and medium levels of ethnic diversity recorded significantly higher company attributes importance mean scores than those in hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity. Indigenous employees in hotels with medium and low levels of ethnic diversity also had stronger expectations with regard to diversity than those in hotels with high levels of ethnic diversity.

4.4.2. Satisfaction with key organisational attractiveness features

In this section, differences in the perceptions of indigenous and non-indigenous employees regarding satisfaction with key organisational attractiveness features are examined (see Table 9). Indigenous employees rated the diversity attribute satisfaction mean scores significantly lower than non-indigenous employees in hotels with medium and low ethnic diversity. However, in hotels with medium and high levels of ethnic diversity, indigenous employees rated the performance of the job attributes significantly higher than did non-indigenous employees. No significant differences were found between indigenous and non-indigenous employees on company attributes performance mean scores across all three types of hotels. The ANOVA analysis results indicated that non-indigenous employees in hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity reported significantly higher job attribute satisfaction mean scores than those in hotels with medium and high levels of ethnic diversity. In contrast, non-indigenous employees in hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity report significantly lower diversity attributes satisfaction mean scores than those in hotels with medium and high levels of ethnic diversity.

No significant differences were found in the company attributes performance mean scores across all three types of hotels. On the other hand, indigenous employees in hotels with low levels of ethnic diversity recorded significantly lower performance mean scores for both company and diversity attributes than those in hotels with high and medium levels of ethnic diversity.

5. Discussion of theoretical contribution and managerial implications

5.1. Theoretical contribution

This study examined employee perceptions of organisational attractiveness with a special focus on organisational diversity, which have been studied broadly in business management studies (Spataro, 2005; Svyantek & Bott, 2004; Thomas, 2005; Waight & Madera, 2011; Wickham & Parker, 2007). Taken together the results indicate that this study represents a significant opportunity to assess whether social identity theory derived from a Western context is applicable to an East Asian settings and these points offer several theoretical contributions from this study.

First of all, although social identity theory views social identification as a dynamic process that is equally prevalent for all people, the results from this research suggest there may be important individual differences in the ways social identities are understood and used. The current findings suggest there may be differences in how people perceive their own and others' identity, and that these differences may be perception and knowledge oriented, arising independent of the intergroup context. When people only perceive and recognise human characteristics as reified and apparent, they may see these characteristics as arising from particular group memberships. Theoretically, this finding is important because ethnic minorities tend to be the focus of diversity research, but little research has examined how ethnic minorities are affected by diversity levels in the East Asian context. Thus, the current study suggests that it may be enriching for research on social identity to pay attention to majority and minority perceptions about the identity characteristics of their own and another groups, because these perceptions may result in different social identity-related effects.

Second, the majority of former research on organisational diversity has been undertaken in the Western context, with only very few studies in Eastern cultures. Theories and practices that developed from a Western context may not work well in Eastern settings due to differences in cultures and social norms (Lee-Ross, 2005). On the other hand, the literature available in regards to indigenous aspects of organisational diversity in Canada and Australia are far more developed (see Jain, Singh, & Agocs, 2000; Lane, 1997; Syed & Kramar, 2009) than in Taiwan. This study therefore addresses a gap in organisational diversity studies in Eastern contexts, particularly in Taiwan. Moreover, by the utlilisation of Social Identify Theory as a guiding framework in an Eastern cultural context, the study has provided some support for the applicability of social identity theory in non-Western cultures.

Third, with increasing globalisation, diversity has become a much more common element in organisational life. One reason diversity is of such high interest is because social identification processes play an important role in influencing individual and group behaviours in the organisational setting. However, the researchers note that it is necessary to take different cultural contexts into account when applying social identity theory in research on diversity impacts (e.g. Western and East Asian, individualism and collectivism, indigenous and non-indigenous). In addition, this research represents a significant opportunity to assess whether understanding social identity through means derived from a Western context is also applicable to an East Asian setting. To the extent that employees define themselves in terms of a particular group, affects the behaviours they represent for themselves and the way they interact with others who may be members of different groups. That is, this study suggests that diversity should be taken into account in the facilitation of employee work outcomes in different cultural settings.

Fourth, the literature indicates that cultural differences between hotel customers and employees repeatedly cause misunderstandings and cultural conflict (Sharma, Tam, & Kim, 2012). Specifically, differences in language and customs, as well as diverse service preferences, are often the factors that result in employee stress and pressure (Wang & Mattila, 2010). On the other hand, studies also demonstrate that inter-culturally sensitive employees are more likely to offer their diverse customers better service and deliver better outcomes for their organisations (see Sharma et al., 2012; Sizoo, Plank, Iskat, & Serrie, 2005). Similarly, a diverse customer base suggests that more effective management of employee diversity should be embraced in hotels to provide customers with a quality service experience (Ekiz & Arasli, 2007; Lockwood, 2005). By examining the perceptions of organisational diversity attributes, the study suggested that effective management of diverse employees can capitalise on employees' understanding of different cultures and thus better position hospitality organisations to provide high quality services to a broad range of customers.

Finally, organisations may improve their internal processes through a better understanding of the interaction between majority and minority employees using the concept of social identity theory. Social identity theory argues that individuals identify themselves based on characteristics such as ethnicity, age, gender, or race. Individuals identify more with similar people (in-group) than with those who are less similar (out-group). Due to factors such as in-group attraction and negative stereotyping, minorities may often be excluded from recruitment, selection or group membership and decision-making activities. This, in turn, reduces job or career advancement opportunities, resulting in a perception of unfair treatment and a negative work environment. An understanding of the importance of social identity theory by managers and employers can help ensure that minority groups are included in functional groups and decision-making processes, providing a better work environment for all employees (Chow & Crawford, 2004).

5.2. Managerial implications

By investigating employee perceptions of the importance and performance of a range of organisational attractiveness dimensions, this study raises several important managerial implications.

First of all, the study found that employees rated job attributes as the most important feature that attracted them to work for the organisation. The job attributes importance mean scores were also significantly higher than the corresponding performance mean scores. This suggests that employees have relatively high expectations concerning job attributes, potentially causing a more critical appraisal of how well the organisation performs and consequently, resulting in relatively low satisfaction ratings. This result was also supported by earlier research (Ghiselli, La Lopa, & Bai, 2003; Holzer & Michael, 2001), which indicated that job attributes such as salary, benefits and job security were the most crucial factors affecting job satisfaction. This suggests that hotels need to further enhance such areas as providing a competitive salary, more training opportunities, better job security and working environment, to attract and retain talented employees.

Second, company attributes were also perceived to perform poorly relative to their importance ratings. There were significant differences between importance and performance mean scores in all hotels. This finding suggested that employees want to have a stable and harmonious workplace with clear reward policies, and if this is the case, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their job and the organisation. Studies suggest that if companies are able to provide congruence between organisational and employee needs, then communication and interaction between co-workers will be more effective and subsequently, levels of satisfaction and the commitment of employees will be higher (Vora, 2002; Wall & Berry, 2007; Westerman & Yamamura, 2007). Ozgan (2011) and Bergen, Soper, and Parnell (2005) also suggested that effective reward systems and support from the company can help to increase employee satisfaction with both their job and the organisation.

Third, the findings also suggested that indigenous employees are more satisfied to work in those organisations that have more indigenous employees. Working with others from a similar indigenous background may subsequently mean that indigenous employees are likely to increase their ratings of the performance of job attributes. Accordingly, Alesina and Ferrara (2004) suggested that people are less trusting of people who are ethnically different to them and individuals generally prefer to interact with people who belong to the same ethnic group. Aydemir and Skuterud (2005) also found that ethnic minorities reported experiencing significantly greater discrimination and prejudice than ethnic majorities in various job attributes, including salary levels and being considered for promotion or advancement. The managerial implication from this finding is that in order for indigenous employees to have a sense of belonging, they need to feel they are supported by the hotel through an appropriately inclusive work environment. This may explain why indigenous employees are more likely to express the importance of working in organisations with greater numbers of indigenous employees, as this may help them perceive themselves as being part of the in-group.

Many organisations and researcher have been searching for "best practices" for managing diversity. It is generally agreed that effective management of diversity needs top leadership commitment as well as employee involvement (Kreitz, 2008). Consequently, it is suggested that hotel managers should be committed to diversity management and communicate a vision of diversity throughout the hotel. Hotels should offer diversity training programmes to front-line employees, supervisors and managers to improve understanding and acceptance of diversity and to reduce prejudice and discrimination in the workplace. These programmes could provide employees with education about multiple cultures, promote awareness and tolerance of differences, and apply concepts of diversity to work and non-work experiences and situations. Hotels should also emphasise recruitment policies that justify, value and reward diversity and develop strategies to manage diversity by recognising cultural differences and recruiting more indigenous and other minority employees. In many developed countries, diversity policies seek to increase the representation of minorities especially in higher management positions (Myaskovsky, Unikel, & Dew, 2005). More effective management of diversity could reduce the possible negative consequences of diversity, such as group conflict (Barkema, Baum, & Mannix, 2002), as well as attract women and ethnic minorities and subsequently improve employee retention (Walker, Field, Giles, Bernerth, & Jones-Farmer, 2007).

6. Limitation, future research and conclusion

As in many cross-sectional studies, this research is not free of limitations. The use of a non-probability sampling method limits the applicability of the study. The study was conducted in Taiwan and due to its unique cultures and diversity components, the findings may not be able to applied in other contexts. This also leaves avenues for future research that could be conducted in other cultural settings. In addition, while this study examined diversity from an ethnic status perspective, other demographic variables such as gender and age were not investigated. Future research should study diversity from these perspectives.

In conclusion, this study expanded the application of social identity theory to an Eastern cultural setting and assessed indigenous and non-indigenous employees' perception of organisational attractiveness in the context of Taiwan's hotel industry. According to Charmine (2004), a workplace that emphasises diversity will be of great benefit to its employers and employees as diversity will increase employee satisfaction, motivation, morale, and commitment and in turn, increase company productivity and subsequently, the bottom line. Unless employees understand, respect, and value one another, organisations cannot develop trust and cooperation among employees, which is the key for an effective work environment with productive work teams (Luthans, 2012). Well-managed diversity leads to effective work teams, which in turn leads to the development of high-quality products and services (Harris, 2004).


Article history:

Received 9 April 2014

Received in revised form

27 August 2014

Accepted 26 September 2014

Available online 1 November 2014


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Aaron Hsiao *, Emily Ma, Chris Auld

School of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management, Griffith University, Nathan Campus, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, Queensland 4111, Australia

* Corresponding author.

E-mail addresses: (A. Hsiao), (E. Ma), (C. Auld).
Table 1
Participating hotels by levels of ethnic diversity.

Organisational   staff    Indigenous
code             no.      no.

A                40       9
B                41       8
C                43       8
D                61       15
E                30       7
F                43       7
G                58       9
H                41       11
V                47       10
I                62       19
j                78       26
K                40       14
U                31       11
L                54       28
M                35       17
N                56       23
O                36       17
P                32       17
Q                38       22
R                48       24
S                61       28
T                53       25

                          Percentage of
Organisational            indigenous
code             N (305)  staff

A                1        <30%
B                17       <30%
C                10       <30%
D                15       <30%
E                10       <30%
F                11       <30%
G                12       <30%
H                17       <30%
V                18       <30%
I                13       >30% but <40%
j                20       >30% but<40%
K                23       >30% but <40%
U                9        >30% but <40%
L                15       >40%
M                12       >40%
N                10       >40%
O                11       >40%
P                6        >40%
Q                7        >40%
R                28       >40%
S                12       >40%
T                18       >40%

                 Levels of ethnic diversity
code               Low     Medium     High

A                [check]
B                [check]
C                [check]
D                [check]
E                [check]
F                [check]
G                [check]
H                [check]
V                [check]
I                          [check]
j                          [check]
K                          [check]
U                          [check]
L                                    [check]
M                                    [check]
N                                    [check]
O                                    [check]
P                                    [check]
Q                                    [check]
R                                    [check]
S                                    [check]
T                                    [check]

Note: N indicates number of respondents
in the organisation.

Table 2
Demographic characteristics of the sample.

characteristics   Categories           Frequency      %

Ethnicity         Indigenous                172     56.4
                  Non-indigenous            133     43.6
                  Total                     305    100

Age               18-24 yr                   38     12.5
                  25-34 yr                  157     51.8
                  35-44 yr                   87     28.7
                  45-55 yr                   21      7.0
                  Total                     304    100

Gender            Male                       94     30.8
                  Female                    211     69.2
                  Total                     305    100

Education         Junior high school         82     27.2
levels            Senior high school        158     52.3
                  University/college         57     20.5
                  Total                     302    100

Employment        <3                        170     58.6
duration          3-5                        79     27.4
                  6-10                       22      7.7
                  >10                        19      6.3
                  Total                     290    100

Management        Managers                   97     31.8
status            Non-managers              208     68.2
                  Total                     305    100

Table 3
Factor analysis of importance of key organisational


                          1--Importance of    2--Importance
                          job attributes      of diversity
Items                                         attributes

Cronbach's alpha          .85                 .84
2. Job suitability        .854
3. Challenging and        .824
   interesting work
1. Salary                 .757
4. Job security           .741
6. Training               .724
5. Opportunities for      .618
   rapid advance

13. Majority of                               .930
    employees are of
    my ethnic
12. Ethnic composition                        .875
    of organisation
10. Co-workers
11. Friendly work
8. Corporate image and
9. Policies are clearly
7. Location of company


                          of company
Items                     attributes

Cronbach's alpha          .92
2. Job suitability
3. Challenging and
   interesting work
1. Salary
4. Job security
6. Training
5. Opportunities for
   rapid advance
13. Majority of
    employees are of
    my ethnic
12. Ethnic composition
    of organisation
10. Co-workers            .861
11. Friendly work         .828
8. Corporate image and    .802
9. Policies are clearly   .712
7. Location of company    .695

KMO: .834; cumulative variance explained by the three factors: 66.8%.

Table 4
Factor analysis of performance of key organisational attractiveness.


                           1--Performance      of company
Items                      of job attributes   attributes

Cronbach's alpha           .87                 .85
5. Opportunities for       .833
   rapid advance
6. Training                .760
3. Challenging and         .751
   interesting work
1. Salary                  .716
4. Job security            .641
2. Job suitability         .612
8. Corporate image and                         .859
10. Co-workers                                 .768
7. Location of company                         .739
9. Policies are clearly                        .725
11. Friendly work                              .705
13. Majority of
    employees are of my
    ethnic background
12. Ethnic composition
    of organisation


                           of diversity
Items                      attributes

Cronbach's alpha           .88
5. Opportunities for
   rapid advance
6. Training
3. Challenging and
   interesting work
1. Salary
4. Job security
2. Job suitability
8. Corporate image and
10. Co-workers
7. Location of company
9. Policies are clearly
11. Friendly work
13. Majority of            .834
    employees are of my
    ethnic background
12. Ethnic composition     .683
    of organisation

KMO: .873; cumulative variance explained by
the three factors: 68.2%.

Table 5
Correlation between the importance and performance
of key organisational attractiveness.

Measures                     1         2         3

1. Importance--job           1         .216 **   .231 **
2. Importance--company                 1         .197 **
3. Importance--diversity                         1
4. Performance--job
5. Performance--company
6. Performance--diversity

Measures                     4         5         6

1. Importance--job           .276 **   .218 **   .244 **
2. Importance--company       .298 **   .445 **   .328 **
3. Importance--diversity     .386 **   .245 **   .310 **
4. Performance--job          1         .526 **   .573 **
5. Performance--company                1         .507 **
6. Performance--diversity                        1

** Correlation is significant at the .01 level (2-tailed).

Table 6
Importance performance differences.

             diversity                               Mean-
Attributes   levels       Importance   Performance   difference

Job          Lowest       4.13         3.68          .47
             Medium       4.16         3.76          .39
             Highest      3.98         3.53          .45
             ANOVA sig.   .00 *        .08

Company      Lowest       3.70         3.56          .14
             Medium       3.94         3.72          .22
             Highest      3.96         3.82          .14
             ANOVA sig.   .01 *        .00 *

Diversity    Lowest       3.76         3.21          .54
             Medium       3.77         3.61          .16
             Highest      3.64         3.56          .08
             ANOVA sig.   .12          .00 *

             diversity    T-test
Attributes   levels       sig.

Job          Lowest       .00 *
             Medium       .00 *
             Highest      .00 *
             ANOVA sig.

Company      Lowest       .05 *
             Medium       .04 *
             Highest      .01 *
             ANOVA sig.

Diversity    Lowest       .00 *
             Medium       .10
             Highest      .31
             ANOVA sig.

* Significant at the .05 level (2-tailed).

Table 7
Importance performance significant differences
among attributes.

                    Employee             Employee
                    importance mean      performance mean

Attributes          Mean-                Mean-
comparison          difference   Sig.    difference   Sig.

Job-company         .23          .00 *   -08          .03 *
Job-diversity       .42          .00 *   .14          .00 *
Company-diversity   .19          .00 *   .23          .00 *

* Significant at the .05 level (2-tailed).

Table 8
Employee importance mean scores.

               Hotels with    Indigenous    Non-indigenous
               levels of      employee      employee
               ethnic         importance    importance
Attributes     diversity      evaluations   evaluations

Job            Lowest         4.11          4.29
               Medium         4.24          4.08
               Highest        3.95          3.89
               ANOVA sig.     .12           .00 *

Organisation   Lowest         3.74          3.64
               Medium         3.94          3.92
               Highest        4.01          3.90
               ANOVA sig.     .05 *         .09

Diversity      Lowest         3.97          3.39
               Medium         4.01          3.26
               Highest        3.61          3.50
               ANOVA sig.     .00 *         .34

               Hotels with    Mean-         T-test sig.
               levels of      difference
Attributes     diversity

Job            Lowest         -.18          .12
               Medium         .16           .24
               Highest        .06           .61
               ANOVA sig.

Organisation   Lowest         .10           .42
               Medium         .02           .98
               Highest        .00           .37
               ANOVA sig.

Diversity      Lowest         .62           .00 *
               Medium         .75           .00 *
               Highest        .11           .41
               ANOVA sig.

* Significant at the .05 level (2-tailed).

Table 9
Employees performance mean scores.

               Hotels with     Indigenous     Non-indigenous
               levels of       employee       employee
               ethnic          performance    performance
Attributes     diversity       evaluations    evaluations

Job            Lowest          3.65           3.74
               Medium          4.22           3.35
               Highest         3.69           3.37
               ANOVA sig.      .00 *          .01 *

Organisation   Lowest          3.56           3.55
               Medium          3.76           3.71
               Highest         3.87           3.75
               ANOVA sig.      .00 *          .30

Diversity      Lowest          3.02           3.43
               Medium          3.56           3.79
               Highest         3.67           3.61
               ANOVA sig.      .00 *          .01 *

               Hotels with
               levels of
               ethnic          Mean-          T-test
Attributes     diversity       difference     sig.

Job            Lowest          -.09           .44
               Medium           .87           .00 *
               Highest          .32           .05 *
               ANOVA sig.

Organisation   Lowest           .01           .98
               Medium           .05           .63
               Highest          .12           .31
               ANOVA sig.

Diversity      Lowest          -.31           .01 *
               Medium          -.23           .04 *
               Highest          .06           .83
               ANOVA sig.

* Significant at the .05 level (2-tailed).
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Article Details
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Author:Hsiao, Aaron; Ma, Emily; Auld, Chris
Publication:Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9TAIW
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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