Management Research in the Hospitality
The hostile-adoption environment (Cooper, 2006). This is especially characteristic of vocational businesses and small businesses, since the application of KM demands a large amount of time and money. 3. No clear applicability for hospitality and tourism service and inter-organizational perspectives (Grizelj, 2003). Since the concepts of KM are developed largely from a manufactured and multinational perspective (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995), it has failed to take many aspects of hospitality and tourism services into account.
Grizelj (2003) points out that KM concepts do not bring up the hospitality and tourism issues based on networks and lack an inter-organizational perspective. 1 In order to remain competitive, hospitality and tourism companies must adopt the KM approach (Ruhanen & Cooper, 2004). As customers become more experienced at finding the best deals for hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and tourist destinations, the hospitality and tourism organizations face increasingly intense worldwide competition.
Considering the severe competition and the nature of the industry, employees and managers have to acquire more knowledge, in order to consistently provide the best deals and service to customers. What is more, customers’ preferences can be various and changeable, requiring employees and managers to understand the changes and continue to provide the best experience (Hallin & Marnburg, 2008). However, the question often posed is: What kind of knowledge should be obtained in order to gain competitive advantage (Ruhanen & Cooper, 2004). In recent years, research on KM topics has become more and more popular.
However, the contributions of research on KM in the hospitality and tourism industry are limited (Pyo, 2005; Ruhanen & Cooper, 2004). Much of the published KM research on tourism and hospitality topics fails to identify possible outcomes (Ruhanen & Cooper, 2004), while other research focuses only on anecdotal case studies and make no contribution to the academic field or the industry, as the studies are mainly company and operationally focused (Cooper, Shepherd and Westlake, 1994; Ruhanen & Cooper, 2004). Bouncken and Pyo (2002) indicated that most of the studies on hospitality and tourism KM are not empirical, but conceptual and practical.
They believe this tendency is because of the short history of research on KM in the industry. Hallin and Marnburg (2008) reviewed empirical research on KM in the hospitality and tourism industry before 2006. They provided the first survey of empirical KM research in the hospitality and 2 tourism field, and suggested that the published empirical research studies lacked theoretical foundation and methodology, and that there is a great need for further empirical KM research in the hospitality and tourism context. Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to identify research trends and direction of scholarly research in hospitality and tourism KM and analyze the potential contributions of published scholarly studies via systematic content analysis. This study will analyze KM research articles focusing on hospitality and tourism, such as the use of KM in the hospitality workplace. The research objectives are as follows: 1. Carry out a content analysis of the related literature between 2006 and 2010 (the period before 2006 was covered in the study by Hallin and Marnburg (2008)), 2.
Compare the new findings with Hallin and Marnburg’s findings to determine the current direction of KM research and identify any changes in the pattern of research studies. For example, Hallin and Marnburg assert that empirical KM research is limited prior to 2006. This study seeks to identify changes in methodologies employed by the articles included in the period studied. 3. Tabulate KM related research methodologies used and subject matters in the hospitality and tourism studies to identify research trends.
Given the research objectives listed above, three research questions have emerged after an initial review of related literature: 1. Is the knowledge management research in hospitality and tourism still limited in terms of empirical research? 3 2. What are the current research trends and direction in terms of methodologies used? 3. What are the current research trends and direction in terms of subject matters? Significance of the Study An initial review of existing research literature on KM studies reveals that there is no comprehensive content analysis of such studies focusing on hospitality and tourism.
With the exception of Hallin and Marnburg’s study (2008), there is no empirical review of scholarly journals that identifies KM research articles focusing on hospitality and tourism. Moreover, no study to date has replicated Hallin and Marnburg’s content analysis study or documented the progress of hospitality and tourism KM research since 2006. Thus, there is a need for content analysis of research literature to identify the current direction and trends of published KM research in hospitality and tourism.
This study aims to give a comprehensive review and identification of hospitality and tourism research articles that focus on KM. Content analysis is used to identify research methodology, year of publication, source of the contribution and other descriptive characteristics. 4 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Introduction The literature review consists of three sections: knowledge, knowledge management (KM), and the importance of and barriers to applying KM. The first section reviews the background of knowledge as a field of study, and different categories of knowledge are discussed.
The second section deals with the concept and history of KM and reviews KM research in the hospitality and tourism industry. The third section identifies the importance of and challenges for KM applications in the hospitality and tourism industry. Knowledge Knowledge is the most significant asset of an organization (Buckley & Carter, 2002). Burton, DeSanctis, and Obel (2006) define knowledge as “information that corresponds to a particular context” (p. 92). Petkovic and Miric (2009) consider this definition to be of great importance as it makes clear the difference between information and knowledge.
Knowledge is composed of many related groups of information, while not every piece of information can be regarded as knowledge. Only those pieces of information which help to improve the level of organizational learning can be considered as knowledge. Knowledge can be stored in many forms, including documents, books or human minds. Each of these forms of knowledge can be used to indicate the knowledge of a business regarding products, service, customers and competitors (Petkovic & Miric, 2009).
The lowest to highest levels of knowledge are data, information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. 5 Categories of Knowledge There are several different forms of knowledge. Whitehill (1997) includes a typology of knowledge: know how (habitual knowledge), know what (encoded knowledge), know who (collaboration knowledge), know why (scientific knowledge), know when and where (process knowledge), and care why (communal knowledge). However, Scott and Laws (2006) pointed out that this kind of typology neglects problems of ownership.
At an organizational level, Zack (1999a) distinguishes between three kinds of knowledge: core knowledge, which is the primary understanding of the company in the industry; advanced knowledge, which is the knowledge necessary for distinction by companies in the industry; and innovative knowledge, which is knowledge used by the company to develop new products and affect the dynamics of the industry. This kind of knowledge classification requires employees and managers not only to know things, but also to take action (Zack, 1999b; Shin, Holden, & Schmidt, 2001).
Of all the different categorizations of knowledge, the system described by Polanyi (1966) is the most influential. Polanyi differentiates between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is personal and complicated, and is about physical capabilities, skills, and values that developed through experience (Leonard & Sensiper, 1998). Explicit knowledge, on the other hand, can be easily codified and transferred into books, reports and documents (Lathi, 2000).
Unlike explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge is difficult to formalize, interpret and transfer from one person or group to another (Shaw & Williams, 2009). It should come as no surprise that tacit knowledge is given much more attention, Polanyi (1966) explains, since tacit knowledge is obtained and learned through intuition and experience rather than through reasoning and observation. Shaw 6 and Williams (2009) believed that it is because tacit knowledge is so difficult to imitate that makes it a key means by which companies gain a competitive advantage. Knowledge Management
The Concept of Knowledge Management While the definition of KM is still developing (Penrose, 1959; Polanyi, 1958; Simon, 1968), the philosophy remains a simple one: Use knowledge to gain competitive advantage (Davenport & Prusak, 1998). As a competitive tool, the essence of the KM process is to identify, capture, transfer and share relevant knowledge, ensuring that organizations increase competitiveness and obtain maximum benefits (Bahra, 2001). Companies use benchmarks to examine, understand and compare their work performance with that of their key competitors (Lee, 2008).
Training to employees, information systems and KM are the most common benchmarks criteria. And the process of KM is often connected with organization goals. Moreover, human capital is a valuable asset to organizations and the fundamental function of KM is to management this valuable asset in the organizations. Dosi, Nelson and Winter (2002) have determined that there is increasing agreement on the definition of KM. They point out that practitioners and academics view the meaning of KM differently. Academics consider KM to be a complex combination of subjects, including information technology, business administration, and management.
Practitioners, by contrast, see KM as a way to leverage knowledge within a company in order to meet business goals, such as achieving competitive advantage and maximum profit (Dosi et al. , 2002; Nonaka, 2008). 7 KM is considered a competitive advantage because it is a tool for organizations to improve organizational productivity, creativity, reputations, innovation and ultimately enhance organizational profits (Ward & Le, 1996). KM improves productivity by better utilizing intellectual capital, reducing costs and improving efficiency (Sherman, 2000).
There are three kinds of intellectual capital: human, customer and structural capital. Structural capital means all other capital expect human capital, such as hardware, software and patents (Edvinsson & Malone, 1997). The History of Knowledge Management There are three clear phases in the development of KM, starting with information systems and developing into knowledge society (Sveiby, 2001). The first phase, beginning in the 1960s, focused on information technology (Tuomi, 2002). During this phase, organizations developed ways to use the large amount of available information to improve productivity.
In the second phase, during the mid-to late 1980s, businesses had become more market-driven than production-driven. During this period, when the awareness of market and service quality was greatly increased, customers began to seek the best deals on products and services (Jafari, 1990). During this phase, some organizations became highly competitive using KM initiatives such as tapping knowledge stocks (Cooper, 2006; Sveiby, 2001). The third phase began in the mid- to late 1990s, and has continued into the present.
In this phase, due to the distribution, production and use of information, there has been a new shift from an information-based to a knowledge economy (Jones, 2001). With the development of technology, innovation and new products/services are introduced in this knowledge economy. Of these three phases, 8 Cooper (2006) believes that the third “has the most” to offer to the hospitality and tourism industry (p. 50). Knowledge Management Applications Kabene, King and Skaini (2006) state that there are six areas of KM applications: transactional, asset management, process based, analytical, innovation and developmental.
Ward and Le (1996) believe E-learning is one of the most imperative KM approaches, as it allows the employees to have the training anywhere at any time. Yahya and Goh (2002) point out generally there are two KM approaches. They are centralized KM and decentralized KM. They also introduced two companies: SevenEleven in Tokyo and BP. Seven-Eleven is an example of centralized KM approach, and this centralized KM relies on a central system to capture and store all the available knowledge. BP, which uses the decentralized KM approach, focuses on knowledge sharing in the organization.
E-learning, a computer-based training, has been introduced to many hospitality and tourism companies. Hospitality and tourism companies use E-learning to enhance customer service and information management. For example, Holiday Inn uses computer technology to investigate the needs of training and let employees to choose training schedules and contents. Although E-learning can be beneficial to organizations, some small and mid-size organizations may face challenges in applying it. Small or mid-size organizations are not able to afford the computer technology systems (Harris, 1995).
Call (2005) introduces the KM system adopted by Ritz-Carlton Hotel. This KM system consists of best service and practices from employees in each department of the 9 hotel and is updated annually. The hotel management views the employees as the most crucial component of KM. Furthermore, Singapore Airlines invested a lot of money on improving its knowledge networks. It used this system to predict the flight tickets supply and demand. This welldeveloped knowledge network help the airline company maximize tickets sales (Goh, 2007).
Knowledge Management Research in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry Since the 1990s, KM has become a popular topic for researchers. However, the hospitality and tourism industry has not followed this trend until recently (Cooper, 2006). KM is primarily thought of from a multinational and manufacturing perspective, therefore, it fails to consider many aspects of the hospitality and tourism industry (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Unlike other industries, hospitality and tourism companies need to work with a variety of other industries, such as the service industry, to work out the service products (Hallin & Marnburg, 2008).
As a result, when working in a hospitality and tourism context, KM concepts need to be extended to consider interorganizational issues. Cooper (2006) notes that the two approaches of the academic and the practitioner should be combined into a single and clear definition: for the hospitality and tourism sector, KM is the process of gaining competitive advantage by allocating knowledge assets within companies. Employees are very important to hospitality and tourism organizations. Employees’ performance has a huge impact on organizational performance.
Also the performance of employees can greatly affect the implication of KM. In order to effectively adopt KM approach to organizations, human resource needs to foster a KM culture that encourages 10 KM applications. Yahya and Goh (2002) examined the relationship between human resource and KM, and found that training and performance appraisals are greatly associated with KM. What is more, organizations use KM approach to retain employees and enhance customer satisfaction (Cooper, 2006). Hospitality and tourism knowledge is heavily labor dependent and employees use their knowledge in providing thebest experience for customers, therefore, it is crucial that companies use KM approach to retain employees and customer satisfactory. Customer satisfaction and loyalty are the most important factors to the success of a hotel. Hospitality and tourism employees have direct contact with customers. It is especially important for employees to have the knowledge about customer preferences and how to provide the best service (Bouncken, 2002). Scholars point out that KM can greatly influence training. Delaney and Huselid (1996) pointed out that organizations should align training with the goals and strategies of the organization.
The purpose of training is to share knowledge with employees, who can use it to improve performance (Frash, Antun, Kline, & Almanza, 2010). KM can help human resource specialists identify training needs in order to provide the right training to the right person. Training in hospitality and tourism organizations is imperative, as the majority of employees have direct contact with customers and organizations want to ensure that employees provide service that will attract new customers and retain returning customers (Nightingale, 1985).
However, it is crucial for hospitality and tourism companies to decide the proper training method to meet the objectives. Because of the 11 budget, time and availability of training personnel, sometimes training do not solve the specific training problems (Froiland, 1993). Researchers agree that KM enables employees to be innovative about the company’s products and services. In order to be competitive, hospitality and tourism organizations need to produce new products and be creative about service (Cooper, 2006).
By acquiring, sharing and transferring the required knowledge, KM leads employees to be creative, ultimately leading organizations to gain competitive advantage (Bouncken, 2002). Although the studies on KM in the hospitality and tourism sector have been limited, the businesses in the industry are increasingly reliant on the KM approach to improve performance and gain competitive advantage (Leiper, 2004). Due to the increased use of information technology (IT) and systems, hospitality and tourism services have become knowledge-based. Sheldon (1997) notes that the hospitality and tourism sector is one of the largest users of IT.
As a result, it is imperative for hospitality and tourism organizations to encourage and learn from KM research in order to distinguish an organization from its competitors. Importance of and Barriers to Applying Knowledge Management Many scholars believe that the KM approach is a crucial tool for hospitality and tourism companies wishing to gain competitive advantages (Cooper, 2005; Jafari, 1990). In light of rapid changes to the economy, hospitality and tourism companies are facing serious problems: increasing operating uncertainty, changing customer preferences, shorter service product life cycles, and complicated intrusive constraints.
KM is an important solution to those problems (Scott & Laws, 2006). 12 By following the knowledge management approach, companies can make better plans for the future, reach a better level of decision making, and ultimately increase competitiveness and gain maximum benefits (Cooper, 2002; Roos & Roos, 1997). Other industries, such as the space and computer industries, have been using KM tools for a long time. Many successful corporations have even set up research and development departments for collecting and analyzing data (Gupta & McDaniel, 2002).
These data can help corporations to acquire useful information with which to make short-term and longterm decisions. Therefore, KM is the key to gaining competitive advantage. Because hospitality and tourism organizations face a more complicated reality than other organizations (Lemelin, 2006), these organizations should also engage in KM processes. The literature on KM fails to consider many hospitality and tourism issues (Grizelj, 2003). KM research therefore needs to be improved to meet the specific requirements of the hospitality and tourism industry.
Furthermore, managers are often faced with too many unclear and complicated KM concepts and implementation processes (Bouncken & Pyo, 2002; Yun, 2004). Delphi, conducting a survey about knowledge management with its practitioners, found that the future of KM would be greatly influenced by the practitioners’ ability to prove its benefits, obtain management support, and recognize the core knowledge (Plummer & Armitage, 2007). Simply understanding the process of KM does not lead to gaining competitive advantage and generating profits.
Knight and Howes (2003) think that the applications of KM are to improve business performance and meet the corporate missions. As a result, it is important to establish the connection between business strategy and KM in the early planning stages in order to apply KM system in all business operations and plans (Wiig, 13 1997). In this way, the best possible knowledge can be made available at every level of activity. Two more barriers to KM application are cost and time. The KM process requires a change in management, and companies have to put a huge amount of money into the process and wait for the results (Cooper, 2006).
Hospitality and tourism organizations are kept busy with daily jobs, and may not have time for identifying and planning from the available knowledge. Although it is easy to accumulate information in hospitality and tourism organizations, employees and managers, especially those from small and midsize companies, cannot easily derive the relevant information from all the information available to them (Gupta & McDaniel, 2002). Finally, the very nature of the industry poses a challenge to the transfer of knowledge in the hospitality and tourism sector (Cooper, 2006).
Davenport and Prusak (1998) and Hjalager (2002) demonstrate that different cultures and different community practices lead to be a lack of reliance between the knowledge producer and those who use the knowledge. KM research is of primary importance to the hospitality and tourism industry and will benefit hospitality and tourism organizations. KM research can help companies adopt KM processes in their daily work and enhance the level of organizational learning. It may also have direct applications to business operations. The consensus among researchers is that KM research should continue to improve the issues described in previous studies.