Employee transience in the tourist resort of Queenstown: Subjectivity, resistance and place
The statement occupying the centre of this thesis comes from ‘Ann-Marie’, the general manager of a tourist accommodation hotel in the tourist resort of Queenstown, New Zealand. “It is an issue, getting really good long-term stay people attracted to the industry. It is the transient stuff that is still frustrating”, she says. This statement struck me as rather interesting when I first heard it. In a context where consumer demand is notoriously unpredictable and temporary and/or part-time employment relationships are distinctive managerial strategies for creating organizational ‘flexibility’, why would a senior manager declare a problem with ‘transience’? The research question generated from this statement thus asks: why do tourist accommodation hotel managers in Queenstown constitute employee transience as a problem?While a managerial statement is at the centre of this thesis, the formulation of the research question and the construction of the thesis response are located within the critical management domain. The analytic agenda of this research, therefore, involves an explanation of Ann-Marie’s statement in terms of the relationship between power resistance and identity in the contemporary capitalist organisation. As such, my main theoretical guidance comes from the work of Michel Foucault, with additional theoretical assistance from the Foucauldian informed labour process theory. In terms of the empirical material gathered in this research, 27 senior managers and 44 operational employees from seven Queenstown tourist accommodation hotels (QTAHs) were invited to join me in semi-structured research interview dialogue. In order to analyse the way in which particular hotel employee identities are constituted, promoted and resisted, I adopted a genealogical mode of discourse analysis of the interview texts.I argue that managerial strategies for “getting really good long stay people” within the QTAH context includes practices of ‘governmentality’ that seek to ‘craft’ independently competent ‘professional’ hotel employees who maintain their commitment to and continuity with the hotel (industry) through their identification as a ‘career’ hotel employee subject. Resistance to this identity ‘crafting’ is of course possible and comes in many different forms. The particular form that this thesis focuses on is ‘transience’ (or the propensity to transience). Of the many possible alternate subject positions that produce transient conduct, the subject positions that are the focus of this thesis are those constituted within Queenstown discourses of place. Particularly, the discourses of place that constitute Queenstown as a tourist resort. The crossing and re-crossing over the discursive-subject boundaries of hotel career-employee and outdoor-adventure-touristworker or social-adventure-tourist-worker create possibilities for resistance to a strong identification with the hotel-career-employee subject position. The disruption that this transience creates for the hotel labour process is the reason for Ann-Marie’s frustration with transience and the reason why the QTAH managers constitute transience as a particular problem in the tourist resort of Queenstown.
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Management
Keywords: tourist accommodation; transient workers; temporary and/or part-time employment relationships; Queenstown hotel managers
Research Type: Thesis