Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Department of Management and Marketing

First Advisor

Ms. Antoinette Hourican


In recent years Ireland has changed from a nation of emigration to one of immigration, facilitated by the Irish Celtic Tiger, the globalisation of labour markets and the erosion of labour restrictions across frontiers. Thus there is increased employee diversity in the Irish work environment, with many different races, cultures, norms, values and religions now in evidence in the Irish workforce. These changes have a significant effect on managers as the Irish workplace becomes increasingly culturally heterogeneous, and forms the basis for change in management practice.

Primary research was undertaken in the form of six interviews with hotel managers to assess their experiences of employing foreign national workers, the positives and negatives they associate with their heterogeneous workforce, any challenges they perceive, and their future concerns. Two focus groups with foreign national employees were conducted to ascertain their experiences of working in the hotel sector in Cork. Two focus groups were also conducted with Irish employees to assess the impact ot working with foreign national employees. An interview was conducted with former Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr. Micheal Martin T.D., to gain the government’s opinion of Ireland’s changing workforce. Finally, an interview was conducted with Mr. Adrian Gregan, former council member of the Irish Hospitality Institute with many years experience in hotel management and education, to gain the opinion of an industry expert on the increasing employment of foreign national workers in the Irish hospitality industry.

A number of conclusions have been made from the primary research conducted. The standard of spoken English among foreign national employees was found to be very low in a number of cases, causing frustration among Irish employees. Despite this, the hotel managers interviewed do not provide English lessons to all foreign national employees. It was discovered that many foreign national employees perceive a ‘glass ceiling’ regarding promotion. The initiatives of some hotels to integrate diverse cultures within their organisation, such as diversity days in the staff canteen, were seen as inadequate, empty gestures by some foreign national employees, who would prefer greater understanding and cultural empathy from their managers. It was also discovered that hotel managers are concerned about the possible short-term nature of employing foreign national workers, and the constant training of new staff in the event of continuous staff turnover.

A number of recommendations are made in this thesis for hotel managers, which can contribute to effective management of culturally heterogeneous work-groups in the hotel sector.

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