The research aimed to investigate international students' levels of motivation to work in the hospitality industry. A survey was conducted with 193 international hospitality students in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Southeast Queensland, Australia. The research, using expectancy motivation theory, found that the level of motivation during their industry experience programs was not high. This outcome should provide valuable information for education providers and industry practitioners to help them improve motivation levels of international students who study hospitality programmes overseas.
Keywords: international students; hospitality industry; job motivation
International education is one of the world's fastest growth export sectors. By 2025, the global demand for international higher education is expected to grow to 7.2 million with a compound growth rate of 5.8% (Wisansing, 2008). The export of education from Australia grew rapidly during the 1990s (Michael, Armstrong, & King, 2003) and its contribution to the Australian economy reached A$4.2 billion (US$3.78 billion) in 2001 (Böhm, Davies, Meares, & Pearce, 2002). The average annual growth rate per year, from 1997 to 2003, in the number of international students studying in Australian higher education institutions was 15.3%, much higher than that of other major education export countries, such as the USA (4.9%) and the UK (3.5%) (Meares, 2003). In 2003, Australia became the fourth most popular educational destination, with roughly 10% of the international student population in the world ("Study Abroad", 2005). The number of international students in Australia more than doubled from 46,600 to 108,600 during the period 1992 to 2000 (Barron, 2004), and reached an overall total of 115,365 in the first semester of 2003 (International Development Program Education Australia, 2003).
From a hospitality industry perspective, students are important as a temporary human resource: the majority of hospitality education providers require students to complete a certain number of hours of industry experience before graduation (Griffith University, 2008; Queensland Institute of Business Technology, 2008; South Bank Institute, 2008).
One of the main reasons for international students, particularly Asian students, to study abroad is because they can gain work experience during or after their study ("Study Abroad", 2005). Their work experience in an overseas advanced country is highly respected and advantageous for them when they look for jobs and develop an industry career in their own country. Legally, international students in Australia may work up to 20 hours per week during the semester period and unlimited hours off-semester. Working while studying also has financial advantages. Thus it is likely that the working environment affects students' selection of country for study. Therefore, motivation and satisfaction work experience is important and an area worthy of investigation.
The aim of this study was to identify international students' levels of motivation when working in the hospitality industry in Australia.
Personal characteristics in motivation
Motivation at work or the reasons why people work has been researched previously and many psychological theories of motivation have been developed. An early theory by Maslow (1954) proposed a hierarchy of five levels of human need to explain human behaviour. Each need comprises a large number of different behaviours but those behaviours were categorised into five levels: (a) physiological needs, (b) need for security, (c) need to belong, (d) need for recognition and esteem (separated into two, self-respect and respect from others), and (e) need for self-actualisation. The theory is classified as an internal and contents approach in its basic thought, and also fits the reinforcement and cognitive approaches (Thierry, …