When cultures collide
Jeffrey P. Shay, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of International Business and Entrepreneurship
School of Business Administration
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
2nd Revised and Resubmitted, Case Research Journal, Resubmitted January 2001
West Indies Yacht Club Resort:
When cultures collide
In early December 1994, Patrick Dowd, a thirty-year-old management consultant, stared out his office window at the snowy Ithaca, New York landscape. Dowd reflected on his recent phone conversation with Jim Johnson, General Manager of the 95-room West Indies Yacht Club Resort (WIYCR) located in the British Virgin Islands. Johnson sounded desperate on the phone to pull the resort out of its apparent tailspin and noted three primary areas of concern. First, expatriate manager turnover was beginning to become problematic. In the past two years the resort had hired and then failed to retain three expatriate Waterfront Directors and three expatriate Food and Beverage Directors. Second, although the resort had not initiated a formal guest feedback program, Johnson estimated that guest complaints had increased from ten per week to more than thirty per week over the past two years. The complaints were usually given by guests to staff at the front desk, written down, passed on to Johnson, and usually centered on the deteriorating level of service provided by local British Virgin Islands’ employees. Many repeat guests claimed, “The staff just doesn’t seem as motivated as it used to be”. And third, there appeared to be an increasing level of tension between expatriate and local staff members. In the past, expatriates and locals seemingly found it natural to work side by side, now there was a noticeable gap between these groups that appeared to be growing.
Johnson had come to know Dowd and his reputation for being one of the few expatriate management consultants... [continues]
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