The Quality of Work Life in Competitive Potential Development in the Tourism Industry: A Conceptual Model and Research Propositions

Article excerpt


In order to be able to deal successfully with the challenges of increased competition tourism enterprises have to take measures to acquire adequate labour resources and to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage based on these resources. The aim of the paper is to create a conceptual model explaining relations between the quality of work life and competitive potential in the tourism industry. It is argued that the quality of work life, which is measured as a discrepancy between expectations towards work and its perceptions, is affected by individual and organisational factors, whilst its influence on competitive potential is moderated by individual characteristics and local labour market conditions.

Keywords: quality of work life, human resources, competitive potential, tourism industry.

JEL codes: J24, J28, L83.


Changes taking place in the contemporary tourism market concern both demand and supply - customers' rising expectations are accompanied by an increasing competition within the sector. As a result the tourism market is already a buyer's market and acquiring and maintaining a competitive advantage is more and more difficult. In order to deal successfully with the challenges of increased international competition and many new emerging consumer preferences the organisations in the industry have to seek new sources of competitive advantage. The fastest growing economic activity, a significant element of international business trading, a leading factor of local and regional development, a leading employer - these are terms often used by academics in the field of the economics of tourism [Alejziak 2000; Golembski 2002]. At the same time certain researchers dealing with these problems draw attention to challenges that are faced by contemporary tourism companies and which the organisations have to handle in the process of competing for production factors, especially labour resources [Keller 2004; Baum 2007]. The limited competitiveness in the labour market stems from the nature of demand by tourists, especially the time concentration which results in a fluctuation of demand for the labour force and also from the activity dispersion which is demonstrated through the dominance of small enterprises [Bednarska 2012]. Under these conditions the efficient competition for employees is hindered.

The aim of the paper is to create a conceptual model explaining relations between the quality of work life and competitive potential in the tourism industry. It also puts forward research propositions concerning determinants of possibilities of acquiring labour resources and maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage based on these resources by tourism enterprises. Although it is generally recognised that human capital is the foundation of competitiveness in the modern economy there is a notable gap in the literature regarding links between tourism-related work quality and competitive potential. The paper opens by giving an insight into the concept of the quality of work life, its theoretical background and consequences. The second section is devoted to reviewing the literature on the sources of competitive advantage and the labour market in tourism. From this the research model is developed. Finally the overall implications and recommendations for future research are proposed and the main conclusions reached are summarised.

1. Quality of work life - background and consequences

Quality of work life is a multi-faceted concept that encompasses both subjective (individual) and objective (organizational) criteria [Martel & Dupuis 2006; Green 2006; Gallie 2009] and it stems from the way in which employees perceive entities that offer work. Based on, amongst other things, their previous experience and personal needs, employees form their expectations for work and the possibility of fulfilling them is the basic criterion for choosing their employer. When it comes to the evaluation of potential employers, job seekers' perceptions are affected by the industry in which company operates [Cable & Graham 2000]. …