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Managers’ reactions to customer vs coworker sexual harassment

Juan M. Madera (Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Priyanko Guchait (Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Mary Dawson (Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 12 February 2018

2258

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how managers react to sexual harassment as a function of the harasser role that includes a customer as a source of harassment and an organization’s climate for sexual harassment.

Design/methodology/approach

Using an experiment with a 2 (harasser role: coworker or customer) × 2 (organizational climate of sexual harassment: tolerates or does not tolerate) between-subjects design, 162 hotel managers were randomly assigned to read one of four conditions.

Findings

Both the harasser role and organization’s climate for sexual harassment influenced the managers’ sexual harassment reactions, specifically whether they label the incident as sexual harassment and attribute responsibility to the organization. The managers’ gender was found to moderate these relationships.

Practical implications

The results underscore the importance of understanding reactions to sexual harassment because, regardless of who harasses (coworker or customer) and the organizational climate (tolerates or does not tolerate sexual harassment), sexual harassment of any form can be harmful for the well-being of hospitality employees. These results also provide educational implications.

Originality/value

This is the first known experimental study to examine how hospitality managers react to sexual harassment when the harasser role includes a customer versus a coworker. The results illustrate that the same sexually harassing behavior was perceived less negatively – in regard to both the labeling and attribution of organizational responsibility – when it was done by a customer than by a coworker.

Keywords

Citation

Madera, J.M., Guchait, P. and Dawson, M. (2018), "Managers’ reactions to customer vs coworker sexual harassment", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 1211-1227. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-02-2017-0081

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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