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“What it do?” The effects of racial code-switching on industry turnover intention

Jaimi Garlington (William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Cass Shum (William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Gloria Wong-Padoongpatt (Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Laura Book (William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 3 July 2023

Issue publication date: 3 November 2023

568

Abstract

Purpose

Racial code-switching is an impression management behavior for people to blend into social and professional situations by adhering to norms outside their own. Drawing on the identity threat perspective, this study aims to examine the harmful effects of racial code-switching on employee psychological depression and hospitality industry turnover intentions.

Design/methodology/approach

The current study used a two-wave time-lagged survey of 286 restaurant frontline employees. Participants were asked to rate their racial code-switching, identity threat and shame in the first survey. Participants reported their depression and industry turnover intention in the second survey one week later.

Findings

The results showed that employees that engaged in racial code-switching had higher intentions to leave the hospitality industry via the sequential mediating roles of identity threat, shame and depression.

Practical implications

The findings provide practical implications on how hospitality practitioners can foster employee authenticity and tenure by evaluating impression management strategies. This paper provides a discussion, suggestions and future research directions on how to take sustainable actions toward diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging.

Originality/value

Although racial code-switching is a common behavioral strategy for whites and people of color, research on racial code-switching in the hospitality industry is limited. This study is among the first to examine racial code-switching’s health and career consequences.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors appreciated Dr Kweisi Ausar for his support, comments and feedback on the earlier version of this project.

Citation

Garlington, J., Shum, C., Wong-Padoongpatt, G. and Book, L. (2023), "“What it do?” The effects of racial code-switching on industry turnover intention", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 35 No. 11, pp. 3864-3882. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-11-2022-1335

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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