Culture Shock in the Hospitality Industry

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The world and business activities are gradually becoming more globalized as many firms extend their operations into overseas markets. With the advent of globalization, there are more influences than ever on the hospitality industry. Put simply, this means that people share their cultures with others. International hotel chains have been growing and because of this, the number of people engaged in foreign business markets has increased. An overseas assignment is an increasingly common career experience (Richardson & McKenna 2006, p. 6), and staff members often experience culture shock during overseas assignments or when serving foreign guests. Some guests also experience culture shock while staying in a foreign country. This essay will review the stages of culture shock and steps that can help to reduce the negative influence of culture shock.

Culture shock is defined as ‘the psychological discomfort one may feel when he/she attempts to adjust to a new cultural situation’ (Klyukanov, cited in Verderber, Verderber & Sellnow 2010, p. 112). There are several causes of culture shock, such as ‘the loss of familiar cues in one’s ability to interact with people of different cultural backgrounds, the language differences, the salience of the cultural differences and nonverbal communication difficulties with the local communities’ (Robin 2010). According to Kwintessential, homesickness, boredom, withdrawal, excessive sleep, compulsive eating/drinking, irritability, stereotyping host nationals and hostility towards host nationals are possible symptoms of culture shock. To prevent the potential problems caused by these symptoms, it is crucial to understand the specific cultural differences.

It is critical to understand the cultural differences to prevent unnecessary misunderstanding and miscommunication when serving foreign guests or working with team members from foreign countries. Culture includes the values, attitudes, beliefs, orientations, and underlying...
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