To Engage or Not? Leading Scholar Memberships and Involvement in Hospitality and Tourism Associations

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Participating in associations can benefit professional development. Nevertheless, hospitality and tourism (H&T) researchers have focused on understanding conference attendance, neglecting the role and functions of the associations organizing such conferences. This study investigated membership and involvement in professional associations by H&T academics, specifically the world’s leading scholars, and the factors motivating and inhibiting their participation. A questionnaire was designed and distributed amongst “leading scholars,” defined as the most prolific H&T scholars since 2000 and the chief editors of H&T journals. Findings revealed ICHRIE, TTRA, APTA, and CAUTHE as the most popular professional associations. Some notable cases of past, current, and future membership patterns were observed. Leading academics’ motivations to join associations included: personal growth, diverse opportunities, skill enhancement, and future industry development. The constraining factors of association participation were also identified. For the “most important” association for their professional development, respondents were its member for an average of 16.6 years, performing various roles and utilizing association services. By identifying the reasons for leading scholars to continue/discontinue their memberships, this study helps professional associations understand member needs. Moreover, graduate students and junior faculty members can learn how leading academics engage with H&T associations for networking and developmental purposes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hospitality and Tourism Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • involvement
  • membership
  • Professional associations
  • professional development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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