Boonyachai, Y 2011, 'An investigation of the leadership styles of middle managers in the Thai hotel industry using the MLQ (5X-Short Form) and Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright N Boonyachai 2011
The hotel industry is the cornerstone of success for the Thai economy and effective leadership in Thai hotels contributes significantly to the profits gained in this industry. Middle managers are therefore critical in the Thai hotel industry because they must lead staff effectively to achieve organisational goals. This research thus investigates the leadership styles of a sample of hotel middle managers in Thailand.
The literature review examines leadership and management, leadership theories, leadership styles and the instruments used to measure leadership styles in the Thai hotel cultural context. A number of leadership style instruments such as the DISC are discussed and justification is given for the appropriateness of the use of the MLQ (5X-Short Form),which denotes three leadership styles, namely Transformational Leadership Style, Transactional Leadership Style and Laissez-Faire Leadership Style in this context. The literature review also focuses on Hofstede‟s Cultural Dimensions in the Thai cultural context.
The existing literature on leadership indicates that the leadership behaviours of managers are an important factor for organisations. Each manager utilises different techniques to control their staff to achieve organisational goals. Therefore, this research focused on dominant leadership styles and the levels of extra effort, effectiveness and satisfaction of three leadership styles. The research also focused on leadership techniques of middle managers in Thailand. Moreover, this research focused on characteristics of managers such as gender, age and levels of education. Finally, this research used Hofstede‟s Cultural Dimensions to identify the effects of Thai cultural influences of middle managers.
There are five research questions which are as follows:
1) What is the dominant leadership style of Thai hotel middle managers according to the MLQ (5X-Short Form) instrument, which denotes Transformational Leadership Style, Transactional Leadership Style and Laissez-Faire Leadership Style?
2) What are the differences in demographics of the Thai hotel middle managers represented in each of the above three leadership styles?
3) What are the differences between the constructs of extra effort, effectiveness and satisfaction among Thai hotel middle managers represented in each of the above three leadership styles?
4) What are the differences between the leadership techniques used by Thai hotel middle managers represented in each of the above three leadership styles?
5) What are the effects of Thai cultural influences on Thai hotel middle managers represented in each of the above three leadership styles?
The research used both a quantitative approach and a qualitative approach (mixed method) to address the research questions. The MLQ (5X-Short Form) was chosen for this research because it is a short and comprehensive survey of 45 items and is available in the Thai language. In-depth interviews with selected managers that followed the survey elicited complex and comprehensive answers from participants about their leadership behaviours.
The MLQ (5X-Short Form) analysis results indicate that the dominant leadership style of Thai hotel middle managers is what may be referred to as a Hybrid Leadership style (one which includes elements of both the Transformational and Transactional Leadership styles) followed by the Transactional Leadership style and then the Laissez-Faire Leadership style.
Males and females were both represented in the Hybrid and Transactional Leadership styles. The Laissez-Faire Leadership style was favoured more by female middle managers. Responses to the questions about the educational level attained by middle managers indicated that most participants had a bachelor‟s degree and the next the highest category included those who had a master‟s degree.
The majority of participants in all groups who were aged between 20 and 30 had bachelors‟ degrees and most participants in all groups who were aged between 31 and 40 had masters‟ degrees. Younger middle managers were more highly educated and more represented in five star hotels. Older middle managers were more represented in four star hotels.
It appears that the majority of middle managers in the Hybrid Leadership and Transactional Leadership categories worked in the five star hotels. In contrast, the majority of the Laissez-Faire Leadership group worked in four-star hotels. The Hybrid Leadership group also had the highest means score for extra effort, effectiveness and satisfaction. There may be some factors associated with human resource and work design practices in five star hotels that may evidence a deliberate strategy to foster certain leadership behaviours and styles. Further research could explore these practices.
Analyses of the qualitative material indicated that Transactional Leaders have five behavioural characteristics: they have individual development plans, they practice four main Buddhist principles, they offer reward systems, they set up social activities for staff and they provide coaching for staff. Hybrid Leaders have six behavioural characteristics: they offer English language programs, they create a pleasurable environment, they set up activities, they offer reward systems, they provide coaching for staff and they provide four main Buddhist principles. Laissez-Faire Leaders have three behavioural characteristics: they offer reward systems, they provide coaching for staff and they set up social activities.
The Hofstede‟s Cultural Dimensions perspective indicated that for the Power Distance dimension, comments from participants who were in the Transactional Leadership category evidenced a Low Power Distance, as did comments from those who were Hybrid Leaders. In contrast, comments from those in the Laissez-Faire Leadership category evidenced a High Power Distance.
For the Individualist/Collectivism dimension, comments from Transactional and Hybrid Leaders evidenced High Collectivism. In contrast, Laissez-Faire Leaders‟ comments evidenced Low Collectivism. For the Masculinity/Femininity dimension, comments from all leadership styles evidenced High Femininity. For the Uncertainty Avoidance dimension, comments from Transactional and Laissez-Faire Leaders evidenced High Uncertainty Avoidance. In contrast, Hybrid Leaders evidenced Low Uncertainty Avoidance.
The findings of this research provide valuable information for the Thai hotel industry and for those who are interested in leadership studies. The findings have relevance for those who lead and educate middle manager and contribute to the small body of literature on leadership in the Thai business context.