The Relationship between Tattoos and Employee Workplace Deviance

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Michael J. Tews of Pennsylvania State University and Kathryn Stafford of Ohio State University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research entitled “The Relationship Between Tattoos and Employee Workplace Deviance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the motivations and innovations of this research.]

Whereas tattoos were once characterized as a deviant art form, tattoos are now in the mainstream in today’s society. Despite some employers being more open to tattoos on employees, research generally finds that individuals adorned with tattoos are perceived as less suitable for employment than those without. The motivation for the present study was to explore whether there is any justification for such an anti-tattoo bias, or if such bias is purely discriminatory. In other words, do employees with tattoos behave differently from those without them? Could their behavior harm their employer or their fellow workers? Given the unprecedented number of tattoos on individuals today, examining this issue was timely and warranted.

This research examined the relationship between tattoos and organizational and interpersonal deviance, with a sample of 518 employees working in the hospitality industry. Examples of organizational deviance include coming to work late without permission and using illegal drugs on the job; while examples of interpersonal deviance include making fun of someone and embarrassing someone at work. Although previous research signals that tattoos are a marker for deviant behavior in general, the relationship between tattoos and deviance has not been examined in the context of the workplace.

Whether or not an employee was merely tattooed did not factor into deviant behavior, but number and type of tattoo did. As the number of tattoos increased, so did organizational deviance. In addition, being adorned with ‘darker’ tattoos was related to both types of deviance, although the effects were not large. Darker tattoos encompass gothic images, symbols reflecting death or violence, and science fiction, among others. These effects held even after controlling for employee personality characteristics.

The primary practical implication is that there may be merit in managers attending to tattoos and restricting them in the workplace. At the same time, they should not overestimate their relevance, as the relationship between tattoos and deviance was not large. Those in the position of hiring should be prepared to articulate the potential benefits and drawbacks of considering tattoo status in hiring decisions. On one hand, hiring managers may wish to not discriminate against those with tattoos due to tight labor markets and perceived unfairness by applicants. While on the other hand, hiring managers may wish to consider tattoos when making employment policies and decisions, given the potential for employee behavior that runs counter to employer interests.

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Resident Attribution and Tourist Stereotypes

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Cathy H. C. Hsu and Nan Chen of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research entitled “Resident Attribution and Tourist Stereotypes,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe their research and its significance.


From 2003 to 2015, Hong Kong (HK) saw a more than five-fold increase in mainland Chinese tourist (MCT) arrivals. With a population of 7.3 million, HK residents had to share their limited living space with 59 million tourists, of whom 77% came from mainland China. The tension between HK residents and MCTs has increased substantially. The negative public opinion on MCTs reached its peak with a series of “anti-locust” protests in early 2014. Protesters staged satirical rallies to urge MCTs to go home. In 2015, HK saw the first decline (-2.97% compared to 2014) in over a decade in MCT arrivals. The ensuing Umbrella Movement has been regarded as a panoply of identity politics and civic passions, some of which was anti-China/Chinese.

In various popular tourism destinations around the world, anti-tourist sentiment has been expressed by residents whose lives have been inconvenienced to say the least. Over-tourism has become a popular discussion topic in the news and social media. Mainland Chinese outbound travelers have dominated the tourist arrival growth in many countries and become an important source market internationally. Along with the rapid increase in tourist numbers, reports of Chinese tourists’ lavish and sometimes unruly behaviors become the media headlines from time to time in many countries. The tourism research community has just begun to address all these unconventional phenomena. These events stimulated our curiosity in the host community’s stereotypes toward a dominant tourist group, aiming to develop counter-stereotype strategies through a comprehensive study of the generation, content, and consequence of tourist stereotypes.

This conceptual paper represents a first attempt to link attribution and stereotypes by identifying interactions between each step of the two cognitive processes, in the context of resident-tourist encounters. It pioneers in establishing conceptual links between a tourism phenomenon and the social psychology theoretical development, through a thorough literature review and the proposed conceptual framework of tourist stereotypes and resident attribution.

This paper also broadens the research paradigm of resident-tourist relationships. Attribution theory not only offers a special lens through which to peek the complex and dynamic resident-tourist relations, but also provides an opportunity to test a new framework through the integration of tourist stereotypes, thus leading tourism scholars toward greater theory development and testing. The comprehensive model proposed in this research can serve as a productive meta-theoretical framework – not only giving an account of existing knowledge in social psychology and tourism, but also generating fruitful research questions that can enhance our understanding. This comprehensive framework needs to be tested urgently using empirical data. The complex relationships among the variables in the model pointed out directions for future research and provided many potential opportunities.

In addition, attribution studies need to move out of the “social vacuum” psychological laboratory, entering the real and complicated social settings to be further developed. The complex and dynamic resident-tourist encounter settings could overcome the constraints imposed by laboratory experiments, and broaden the scope and depth of attributional research, to address the recognized deficiencies of attribution theory outlined in this paper.

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Catalyzing Green Behavior of employees in Tour Companies

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Tuan Luu of Swinburne University of Technology. He recently published an article in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research entitled “Catalyzing employee OCBE in tour companies,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Luu briefly describes his research and its significance.

2JHTR07_Covers.pdfWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

Green behavior of employees in the tourism industry can contribute to the green sustainability of tourist organizations as well as tourist destinations. In the Vietnamese context, more and more tourist organizations have devoted their attention to the green sustainability. Our study therefore aims to provide tourism practitioners with a roadmap to build green behavior among employees via environmentally-specific charismatic leadership and organizational justice for pro-environmental behaviors.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

Tours that have left behind a dirty area of a beautiful beach or have exhausted elephants with heavy loads of tourists could be partly attributed to the lack of green responsibility among tour guides as well as their tourist organizations. These observations have driven us to pursue this study.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Our study advances the green tourism literature by investigating environmentally-specific charismatic leadership rather than universal leadership as well as the interactive effect of this leadership style and organizational justice for pro-environmental behaviors underpinning green behavior among employees.

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Financing Decisions and Performance of Italian SMEs in the Hotel Industry

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Marco Botta of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, and the Università degli Studi dell’Insubria. Dr. Botta recently published an article in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly entitled “Financing Decisions and Performance of Italian SMEs in the Hotel Industry,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Botta reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]


The Global Financial Crisis that started in 2008 in the US and soon spread globally has highlighted how financial decisions can have a strong impact on the real economy. The way firms (and people as well) raise capital may produce important consequences on their future. The European debt crisis in 2011 showed how even governments cannot escape the consequences of bad financial decisions.

In this respect, hotel companies are extremely capital-intensive, needing to devote large amounts of funds to buy and furbish real estate properties where to run their hotel business. This implies that they often have to raise significant amounts of funds from external sources, as internal resources may not be sufficient to cover their investment needs. This may be particularly troublesome for small and medium companies (SMEs) that, in the Italian experience, tend to rely heavily on bank loans to cover their capital needs. This is what is known as a pecking-order type of behavior: firms first use internal resources, and then debt. Additional equity capital is used only as a last resort, and this may induce firms to constantly run high levels of debt.

My research shows how firms should instead adopt more sophisticated financial decisions: having a systematically higher-than-optimal level of debt induces firms to reduce their investments, as shown by the lower growth in assets, and this ultimately results in lower performance. On the other hand, firms using too little debt also experience a decrease in performance, due to a lower operating efficiency: the lack of pressure from mandatory debt repayments may produce a more “relaxed” atmosphere, so that hotel companies end up losing effectiveness in their ability to maximize revenues and keep costs under control.
Overall, my research shows how managers of hotel SMEs should target an optimal level of debt that should be achieved by balancing two contrasting effects. On the one hand, avoiding excessive levels of debt allows maintaining financial flexibility, so that a company is able to pursue investment opportunities whenever they become available. On the other hand, having a moderate amount of debt induces firms to operate more efficiently, likely because of the pressure of mandatory debt repayment and of the scrutiny of external debtholders who want to protect their investment.

From an academic perspective, the research sheds light on the long-standing debate on the existence of an optimal capital structure. My results show that Italian hotel SMEs do not appear particularly keen at targeting an optimal level of debt. Their behavior is instead mostly in line with the predictions of the pecking order theory: they used internal funds as their primary source of capital, and they prefer debt over equity when they need to raise new external funds. However, the relationship between capital structure and financial performance shows that firms indeed face an optimal level of debt, providing evidence in favor of the empirical validity of the trade-off theory of capital structure.

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Defining Marijuana Tourism

Dr. Lorraine L. Taylor of Fort Lewis College, Colorado, recently published an article in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research, which is entitled “Defining Marijuana Tourism.” We are pleased to welcome her as a contributor and excited to announce that the findings will be free to access on our site for a limited time. Below Dr. Taylor reveals the inspiration behind the research, as well as additional information not included in the final publication.

2JHTR07_Covers.pdfWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

As the first state to sell legal recreational marijuana in 2014, there were many unanswered questions. Within the tourism industry, destinations were unsure how marijuana would impact the visitor experience. While there are certainly many questions to be answered, this study sought to better understand the marijuana tourists, their characteristics, behavior, and motivations.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

Compared to other tourism research I have completed, this study had a very high response rate from participants. Very few people refused to participate, and rather wanted to contribute to the understanding of marijuana tourism.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Researchers in Colorado had the privilege of being first movers with studying marijuana tourism, though it is critical that data is collected in other geographical locations to validate the findings.

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

This project determined that the target market of marijuana tourists is heterogenous. A follow-up study will be conducted to dig deeper into the nuances of different niche segments within the market.

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How Changes in the House Advantages of Reel Slots Affect Game Performance

backgammon-2488089_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Anthony F. Lucas of the University of Nevada and Katherine Spilde of San Diego State University. They recently published an article in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly entitled “How Changes in the House Advantages of Reel Slots Affect Game Performance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]


Our motivation for this research stemmed from inquiries regarding extant policies for par selection and from the results of our previous research projects. Our prior work suggested that the highly skewed outcome distributions of modern slot machines would obscure even considerable differences in programmed casino advantages (i.e., pars), especially given the limited number of trials produced by individual players. In spite of these results, many industry stakeholders and casino operators contended that experienced players from high-visitation segments would be able to detect such differences over time. It was for these reasons that we decided to conduct the longitudinal field study with data collected from venues relying on a repeat clientele.

Our work is the first to focus on the longitudinal effects of par on unit-level game performance, within live casino settings. The results of our study were surprising in a couple ways. First, the high par games outperformed their low par counterparts, in terms of theoretical win. This surprised many operators who believed that frequent players would quickly recognize the value of the low par games, which were located a mere three feet away. Second, there was a lack of evidence of play migration, i.e., from the high par games to the low par games. The time series analyses failed to indicate a statistically significant and positive change in the magnitude of differences for both daily coin-in and theoretical win levels, over the sample periods. That is, the data failed to indicate a growing recognition of the differences in pars. If players were able to detect such differences we would expect to see both increased play and theoretical win levels on the low par game, over time. We would also expect to see simultaneous decreases in the same metrics on the high par game. To the contrary, these difference metrics remained stable within each two-game pairing, in spite of the clear economic disincentive for players to risk and lose bankroll to the game with the greater par.

Our results present an empirical challenged to the innervate wisdom regarding player hypersensitivity to par settings. Other slot operating paradigms related to “price” positioning and revenue optimization strategies are also contradicted by our findings. Because these all represent critical operating platforms, we are not sure how this work will ultimately impact the gaming industry. In large part, it depends on the willingness of those within it to re-examine longstanding beliefs and predispositions, and place evidence above instinct. While we expect some operators to accelerate in-house experimentation, it is likely that many will wait for future research, which we have in the pipeline.

It should be noted that without the cooperation of willing casino operators this research cannot be completed. They deserve a great deal of credit for bringing this work to light. Open minds bring positive change.

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How Do Senior Leaders Navigate the Need to Belong?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Jessy Zumaeta of the University of Chile and the London School of Economics. Dr. Zumaeta recently published an article in Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies entitled “Lonely at the Top: How Do Senior Leaders Navigate the Need to Belong?” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Zumaeta speaks about the motivations, challenges, and findings of this research:]

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

I’m very interested in Leadership research and practice. Leaders may contribute to a great extent to organizations’ success or failure. They can make organizations and its people to thrive or, on the contrary, leaders may block employees’ and organizations’ progress. Due to the importance of their role, managers at the top echelons of organizations are usually highly pressured to deliver results. Among other things, I wanted to explore to what extent these pressures affected the person behind the professional mask.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research

Considering the abundant leadership literature, I wanted to look at it from a novel perspective, so I started to explore these kind of questions: How does it feel to be a senior leader? What are the main challenges? How do top managers experience their role? I did my research to shed light on leaders’ experiences in their role, going beyond the common view of the leader as a hero. My investigation focused on senior leaders as people with personal and social needs, as everyone else.

Were there any surprising findings?

In the interviews that I conducted, I could gather very personal accounts that may give the reader a good sense of what is like to perform a high-ranked leadership role in a corporate context on a daily basis. It was surprising to me the high degree of openness that the leaders showed during the interviews, which seem to contrast with the usual levels of authenticity that they are able to perform among other workers.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Organizations can be very difficult places, even for those that we all deem as super powerful. In consequence, I think we have to look at leadership phenomenon from different perspectives. It is a misleading message to think about top leaders as glamorous or highly desirable roles. Senior leaders have great responsibilities and setting them apart from the rest of people, it doesn’t seem to be helping organizations or leaders themselves. We need more workplaces centered on real people and their fundamental needs.

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