The article by Hallowell et al. (2002) encompasses and analysis of the important managerial factors attributed to the Four Seasons Hotel’s business. One of the significant factors identified in the article is linkage between service culture and organizational culture. However the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort is still facing challenges in terms of the overlapping cultures despite enjoying its success as a premier European hotel. The discussion focuses on analyzing the context of the article under the lenses of organizational culture. In addition, the discussion will also highlight the prominent issues about the Four Seasons Hotel as described in the article. After which, an analysis was conducted, which was the basis of presenting alternative actions that will address the identified issue. Recommendations and implementation plan will be presented at the end of the discussion. Based on the findings of the Hallowell et al. (2002) article “Four Seasons Goes to Paris,” it can be assumed that the main issue that the hotel company is facing is about cultural variation between the organization, service, and geographical culture.
European culture is different from North America and Paris is also different in many ways. Such differences are causing a difficulty in establishing a uniform organizational culture. Such is written all over the context of the article, however, the article itself encompasses its own issue such as lack of evidence that supports the encompassing arguments by the author.
The lack of solid quantifiable evidence presented in the article is an issue that constitutes a problem on the strength of the article’s given solution to the perceived problem of Four Seasons Hotel’s organizational and local operation’s culture.
There are several factors to consider when analyzing the cultural situation of the Four Seasons as an international hotel and accommodations firm. In 2002 the hotel brand was considered as the world’s most leading luxury hotel (PR Newswire, 2012). The hotel has 53 properties in 24 countries worldwide as of the publishing of Hallowell et al. study (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, 2012). However, given that the company is operating on an international scale, it upholds one principle. This is where the problem comes from because despite the singularity and diversity, the service industry still has to consider that people should come first. This translates to the principle suggesting that one should be treated the way one expects to be treated.
The foregoing information about hotel’s organizational values was highlighted in the article, which includes emphasis on the various aspects of organizational culture. Furthermore, the article deciphers the concept of organizational culture in Four Seasons’ hotel business requires taking into account the imposition of the hotel’s business design model. In Four Seasons Hotel, the business model is composed of four elements namely plan, do, check, and act. Applying the element of planning into the business operation requires preserving the organizational principle while adapting to local culture. Enabling an effective planning strategy in integrating the central organizational principle with the local customs requires formulating services that delivers client satisfaction. This information was discussed in the article, but was not able to deliver a more adequate evaluation of the factors that influence the outcome of the described cultural conflict between the hotel’s organizational culture and that of the locality.
For example when the discussion was presented regarding planning for service improvements where the Four Seasons was able to create service culture standards, the authors could have described the basis of the hotel in adopting such standard. In addition, describing that everything must be pleasing to the eye, staff that always smiles, clean, well informed, and recognizes customer needs (Hallowell et al., 2002) are common intricacies of hotel service standards. There are more unique propositions that can be integrated into the service standards such as ensuring safety while enjoying comfort. The analysis of the article encompasses the following findings:
- The article lacks quantitative data to support arguments
- Comparative data was presented showing the differences in the characteristics of different hotels in Paris, but none in terms of service culture comparison.
- Lacks comparative data that will demonstrate that the hotel’s service culture does not conform with the local culture in its region of operations
- The article was able to explore the different elements that are relevant to the discussion about the culture variation.
- Suggestions regarding alternative actions to address cultural conflict between service standards and local custom were explicitly presented.
- The management side of the problem with Four Seasons Hotel was mentioned, which leads to examining the difference in terms of management approach between the Italian and French Four Seasons Hotels.
The article highlights the fact that acting to preserve the organizational traditions encompasses acting to consistently improve services. Furthermore, the hotel service standards had created other cultural habits such as keeping professional behavior, maintaining interest to people, consistent one firm sentiment, accountability, and modest discipline and compassion. However, the analysis of the hotel operations were only describes the problem and the factors influencing its outcome, but the evidence supporting the analysis is inadequate. For example, ascertaining service standards the staff of the hotel should consistently put the standards in practice as a singular culture. The concept of singularity and diversity was described effectively in the article, but it was not able to define the concept in terms of singularity versus diversity. Rather than discussing the concepts of singularity and diversity separately, the article could have placed greater emphasis on comparing the two concepts and determine which concept will work best for the hotel.
- Concerning the problem of inadequate quantitative data to support arguments, the alternative action to address this issue is to follow up the study with a short survey that will gauge perceptions about the Hotel’s service culture.
- Comparative data was presented showing the differences in the characteristics of different hotels in Paris, but none in terms of service culture comparison. Alternatively, the article could have presented a better table of comparison by adding a segment in the table that shows variation of service cultures adopted by each hotel in Francs and Italy.
- Lacks comparative data that will demonstrate that the hotel’s service culture does not conform to the local culture in its region of operations. The inclusion of the service culture comparison in the article’s existing table will highlight the fact that the Four Seasons Hotel is upholding a service culture that does is not aligned with the local culture.
Based on the presented alternatives, highlighting the issues about cultural conflict that Four Seasons Hotel is experiencing should include a quantitative set of data or at least employ a mixed method approach in constructing the article. However, there are pros and cons associated with the use of mixed methodology.
- Time consuming
- The process of analyzing the qualitative and quantitative data at the same time could be confusing
- The method requires more explicit explanation in order to relate the findings of both the qualitative and quantitative data
- The method requires that the authors have strong familiarity in terms of collecting data for both qualitative and quantitative
- Provides stronger evidence when studying a problem such as cultural conflict between Four Seasons Hotel and the local culture.
- The method ensures that all questions pertaining to the issue being addressed were answered
- The method is more practical because, the author will not need to elaborate all information descriptively, but can summarize important details through numbers.
The probable positive side of employing a mix methodology component in the article is to reinforce the findings with measurable data, which can be revalidated by replicating the method. On the other hand, the negative side of incorporating a quantitative methodology is that the article will have to be reconstructed to accommodate results and analysis of the numerical data. However, employing the mix methodology by incorporating numerical data is enough to address the other issues such as lack of evidence to support findings.
The implementation of the recommended approach is being directed towards the authors of the article, management researchers, and other experts on the field of management who are seeking for relevant cases for future research. The recommendation can be applied to the future research about cultural complications caused by standardized service culture adopted in a less forgiving local culture. For future researchers of the same issue or at least about the issue of organizational culture that contradicts with the local culture, presentation of relevant data including quantifiable data that will support relevant arguments. The issues encountered in the article can be corrected or prevented in the future by ensuring that the preliminary work on the study has included a methodology section. It is apparent that the article did not include such section to describe how the findings and the data were synthesized. However, in the future, similar works should consider conducting a survey to supply the study with numerical data apart from statements from an interview as perceived in the article. Hence, the inclusion of quantitative data will address the inadequacies in supporting evidence, thus, having sufficient evidence enhances the arguments presented in the article.
The issues implied in the article suggest that the Four Seasons in Paris is in a position where its organization and service culture contradicts with its local market’s culture. Depending on the outcome, the conflict may result to either positive or negative experience for both the hotel guests and the management. The changing market demographics and evolving social culture creates an acute issue that the firm finds difficult assimilate into its long standing organizational and service. Cultural difference and conflict education is essential for the Four Seasons to maintain a healthy relationship internally and externally.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. (2012). The luxury consumer in the new digital world: Then and Now. Retrieved from Four Seasons Luxury Trends Report website: http://www.fourseasons.com/content/dam/fourseasons/web/pdfs/landing_page_pdfs/2012_TRD_Report_final.pdf
Hallowell, R., Bowen, D., & Knoop, C. (2002). Four Seasons goes to Paris. Academy of Management Executives, 16(4), 7-23.
Makhlouk, H., & Shevchuk, O. (2008). The importance and the influence of the corporate culture in a merger and acquisition context. Retrieved from BBS at the University of Kalmar website: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1212/FULLTEXT01.pdf
PR Newswire. (2012). Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Inc. Announces Agreement To Acquire The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale At Troon North. Retrieved from http://www.wnct.com/story/27414921/strategic-hotels-resorts-inc-announces-agreement-to-acquire-the-four-seasons-resort-scottsdale-at-troon-north
Williams, A. (1994). Resolving Conflict in a Multicultural Environment. Retrieved from MCS Conciliation Quarterly website: http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/example/will5746.htm