Human Resource Management As A Competitive Advantage

2390 words - 10 pages

In the International Hospitality market competition is an issue of services and products. Much attention has been directed to a better service and the best product and how this can be achieved through utilising the human resource, (Adorka, 1996).Understanding sources of competitive advantage has become a major area of research in the field of strategic management, (Handy, 1999). None more so than in the Hospitality sector, where differentiation is key to delivering financial success in such a highly perishable, inimitable and subjective industry, (Lockwood & Jones, 1994). From experience, it is the human assets that are a key source of sustainable advantage. However, this utopian ideology is hard to achieve in an industry characterised by high labour turnover, poor perceptions as employers and stressful working conditions, (Berta, 2003). Moreover, 75% of the hospitality workforce in the UK are under 25, (People 1st, Market Assessment, 2004), corollary forging a very transient work culture that is hard to revolutionise.Nonetheless, Guest 1990, cited in Beardwell & Holden et al, 2004 states that if management trust their workers and gives them challenging assignments, these workers in return will respond with high motivation, high commitment and high performance. Moreover, it can be argued that the sources of competitive advantage have shifted from financial resources to human. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line employs a strategy that incorporates Pfeffer's sixteen practices of competitive advantages, cited in Beardwell and Holden, 2004. Here, the company gives "signing on incentives" for key members of staff, personal development and progression within the fleet. For example, they offer one-week shore leave to gain intensive health and safety training. Moreover, customer feedback scores are key indicators for success and bonus performance related privileges which are an integral part of the job. Within this environment the majority of wages is tip based and it depends on employee's attitudes, competencies and skills; their ability to generate commitment and trust, communicate aspirations and work in complex relationships, to gain repeat custom and job satisfaction. To aspire to this the answer lies in competitive strategy and human resource practices such as good communication, respect for individuals, and a manager with vision. In the case of Royal Caribbean, it is not a department that implements this strategy, more so an embracing culture that ensures a competitive edge.Nonetheless, can people, with all their idiosyncrasies and variances provide a sustained competitive advantage, or will competitors be able to imitate what has been achieved or buy in the same skills and capabilities from the market place? A culture, experienced in such environments such as Royal Caribbean cannot be transferred, and commitment, pride and trust takes organizations years of focus, skill, and senior management commitment to nurture this kind of HR culture,...

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