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Executive chefs’ calling: effect on engagement, work-life balance and life satisfaction

Lisa Cain (Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA)
James Busser (Department of Hospitality Management, University of Nevada – Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Hee Jung (Annette) Kang (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 14 May 2018




This paper aims to understand the relationships among calling, employee engagement, work-life balance and life satisfaction for executive chefs based on role theory and spillover theory.


Surveys were completed by members of the American Culinary Federation in North America, the Nevada Restaurant Association and attendees at the ChefConnect Annual Conference. The data were analysed with confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling.


All relationships in the model were significantly positive except for calling to life satisfaction. Importantly work-life balance was a significant mediator between calling and life satisfaction as well as for employee engagement and life satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

The research provides a more comprehensive framework for hospitality scholars to understand the outcomes of work as a calling through meaningfulness. The sample of executive chef limits generalizability.

Practical implications

The identification of a calling through in-depth interviews is recommended. Once recognized, managers should further foster chef’s passion through employee engagement facilitated by workplace autonomy and continuing education and work-life balance supported with human resource management practices including time off for critical life events. This will allow calling to flourish, increase life satisfaction and reduce the likelihood of turnover and burnout.


Outcomes reveal the complexity of the relationship between calling and life satisfaction. Contrary to previous findings, the presence of positive work-life balance was critical to attain life satisfaction, even when work was viewed as a calling.



Cain, L., Busser, J. and Kang, H.J.(A). (2018), "Executive chefs’ calling: effect on engagement, work-life balance and life satisfaction", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 2287-2307.



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