What It Takes to Be a Manager

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2 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH (2 ICBER 2011) PROCEEDING

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A MANAGER: THE CASE OF MALAYSIAN FIVESTAR RESORT HOTELS Rozila Ahmad (rozila@uum.edu.my)
Noor Azimin Zainol (azimin@uum.edu.my)
Universiti Utara Malaysia
Sintok, 06010 Kedah
ABSTRACT
This article investigates the requirement for managerial posts in five-star resort hotels in Malaysia. Despite the growth of hotel industry in Malaysia, academic literature especially qualitative empirical study focusing on the human capital needs of the industry in the country is scarce. Different from other industries, in the hotel industry a Bachelor’s Degree hardly guarantees the attainment of management position. Based on interviews with 42 hotel employees including 19 managers from six hotels, this article suggests that work experience and leadership skill is crucial for hotel managers to perform their job. Other requirements are knowledge, education and English proficiency. This suggestion is supported by the employees’ profile. The implications are discussed, emphasizing the need to consider increasing hotel students’ work experience in the industry and enhancing their leadership skill.

Keywords: human resource management, hotel industry, career, leadership, education, communication

INTRODUCTION
There is a shortage of skilled workers in Malaysia due to its rapidly growing economy (Business Monitor International Ltd., 2010). Tourism is among the main contributor for the economic growth and its alignment with hotel industry has created many job opportunities to the local population. Based on the statistics by Malaysian Association of Hotels (2011a) from 2007 to 2010 the number of tourist arrival has increased from 20.9 million to 23.6 million and this was followed by the increment in the number of hotels and motels from 1567 to 2005. This has led to the continuous growth of public and private institutions offering hotel management courses to fill the workforce needs of these hotels. Despite the increasing number of hotel graduates, hotels are still facing worker shortages (Malaysian Association of Hotels, 2011b). As in developed countries, Malaysian hotels are having problems in attracting and retaining skilled and knowledgeable workers (Patah, Zain, Abdullah & Radzi, 2009; Cheng & Brown, 1998).

On one hand, the shortage of skilled workers in Malaysian hotels is caused by the unattractive work atmosphere of the industry. On the other hand it is caused by Malaysian workforce inferiority to attain management position. Similar to the developed countries, Hotels in Malaysia are facing problems in attracting and retaining skilled and knowledgeable workers due to low salary, rigid job traits and conventional style of top-down operation (Ahmad, Solnet & Scott, 2010; Yamashita & Uenoyama, 2006; Davidson, Guilding & Timo, 2006). However, such problem is less prevalent in Multi National Corporation (MNC) due to their strategic human resource management practices that managed to attract and retain skilled workers from competing hotels (Ahmad et al., 2010). MNC are required to involved more locals in middle and top management position. However, after three decades of growth foreign international hotel managers still dominate the Malaysian hotel industry and this could be due to the decreased level of human capital among the Malaysian workforce (Lazzeretti & Petrillo, 2006).

Numerous academic literatures in Malaysia have discussed on how the industry can retain their skilled employees. However, literature on how academicians can increase their students’ employability for

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management position is scarce despite the indication of Malaysian workforce inferiority to attain management position. This deficiency in the literature gives rise to the research question of this article. The research question of this...
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