Female Western Leaders in the Hospitality Industry in North Africa

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Ekonomihögskolan, ELNU; Linnéuniversitetet/Ekonomihögskolan, ELNU

Abstract: Since North Africa is considered as one of the future hot spots for tourism development, western hotel chains increasingly expand to this region. Especially in the opening phase, these hotel groups tend to fill leading positions with male and female western managers. However, we assume that since the Arab culture is very male-dominated, the employment of women managers might cause cultural conflicts. Thus, our thesis aims to identify possible barriers for women to succeed in hotels in North Africa as well as to elaborate critical success factors for future female western leaders to overcome these barriers and to manage effectively. In order to find out about underlying attitudes towards foreigners and female superiors, we conducted a survey among Arabic hotel employees at an international five star hotel in Egypt. The results of our survey were topped up with insights from the literature and the remaining knowledge gaps were filled by holding conversations with industry experts. The findings of our study indicate a trend towards a more liberal Arabic society as well as certain openness towards foreigners and women, which could be ascribed to driving forces, such as globalization and a rise in information technology. However, there are still cases of gender inequality and religious intolerance, which shows that social practices have not yet completely changed. It is thus suggested that female western leaders still face barriers, such as chauvinistic behavior as well as suggestiveness. In order to be able to deal with these barriers, we developed critical success factors for future women managers, such as being cultural intelligent, being interested in the employees, being a coach and a team player, and trusting yourself. In addition, we provided general implications for women operating in other seemingly hostile environments, such as male-dominated industries or women-aversive surroundings.

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