Role of servant leadership in contemporary hospitality

Kaye Kye Sung Chon, Judit Zoltan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to determine the possible role of servant leadership (SL) in meliorating critical issues in the contemporary hospitality industry by synthesizing literature on SL, examining benefits and deriving future research propositions. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic literature review of SL in hospitality was conducted to analyze, categorize and synthesize the state of research. A nomological framework of SL in hospitality was created, and research gaps were identified. Future directions and propositions were derived to investigate the antecedents of SL by applying the person-situation theoretical approach, and second, to address contemporary challenges in the industry. Findings: SL theory in hospitality is examined across various themes with focus on outcome effects related to firm performance, and across different cultures, with observed dominance in Asia. All analyses demonstrate the positive effects on employers and firms and thus confirm the relevance of adopting SL in hospitality. A notable gap in hospitality research is the lack of empirical investigation of SL antecedents. Such an investigation is crucial in promoting related behaviors. Practical implications: This study identifies the benefits of SL, especially in addressing contemporary issues, such as sustainability, talent shortage, competition, growing demand for experience and retention of hospitality graduates. Recommendations are elaborated for hospitality educators and industry managers to revise leadership practices. Originality/value: This study is the first to review SL in hospitality and determine its role in ameliorating critical issues in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3371-3394
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2019


  • Contemporary issues
  • Hospitality education
  • Hospitality industry
  • Human resources
  • Leadership development
  • Servant leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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