An anthropological study of waiters in British hotels : their reward systems, underlying values and work organization
There is now a growing body of literature concerned with the rise of the service sector relative to manufacturing and the role of the personal service sector In the hidden economy. There is, however, a dearth of systematic material in industrial sociology or in industrial relations which is based on empirical observation in the personal service sector and the hotel industry in particular. The purpose of this thesis, therefore, is to examine people's attitudes to work and its rewards in the hotel industry and to develop hypotheses about the nature of covert reward allocation. based on one occupation, the hotel waiter, and through participant observation. The research was originally designed to develop work completed by Mars and Mitchell for the Open University on the hotel industry by empirically testing some of the concepts and hypotheses which they had speculatively raised: such as "ad hoc management", "individual contract making", "total rewards system", "core" and "peripheral" workers. The method was primarily by participant observation and hotels were selected in three situations (seaside, metropolitan and medium urban), chosen on the criteria of varied ownership and location and therefore involving different product markets. As the fieldwork progressed, it became clear that the parameters within which individual contracts are negotiated could not be examined without considering other occupational variables that affect contract making. First, I found it necessary to distinguish the different ways by which managers, waiters and customers perceive the concept of service in different classes of hotel. Second, I needed too to distinguish between waiters at different stages of their careers and to look at the effects of different proportions of different waiters amongst different prestige hotels. Third, I began to collect considerable material on the strategies of interaction between waiters and diners since it became integral to understanding relationships both with co-workers and management. In order to understand and explain these wider aspects of hotels, I have developed a typology based on Mary Douglas' concepts of "grid" and "group". Following this typology, a set of four "ideal" occupational contexts emerge and each in turn favours the development of a distinct set of attitudes, values and beliefs. Important implications for industrial relations, managerial policies and government policies can then be examined in the light of what will seem appropriate for the effective running of different types of organization. The essential point is that hotel and catering can best be seen not as one industry, but in terms of this four-fold classification.