Although there are problems associated with having these people and activities based in the United States, on further examination, there is a reasonable explanation for why Kimball has chosen this configuration of activities and personnel. Kimball is a wealthy individual who has invested in a resort in the Caribbean. His decision to remain in the United States is to stay closer to his market and because he never intended to reside in the Caribbean full-time. The resort must be looked at as an investment. The reason for Johnson working from Miami is due to two things.
First, he wanted his children to receive a better education than was available in the BVI. Second, by not living at the resort full-time he opened a position for another full-time expatriate manager. The reason that Fitch works from Connecticut is primarily based on the fact that it places him in the largest market of potential guests. Despite the reasons for these people and activities being based in the U. S. , there are significant implications for the resort. In collectivist cultures such as the BVI, it is important to establish relationships with local employees.
Kimball, Johnson, and Fitch have found it difficult to establish these relationships because they are not at the resort full-time. As a result, local employees can often grow to resent working for managers that don’t appear to be concerned with getting to know them and are instead seen as individuals who are seeking personal rewards by taking from their culture. Mawhinney and Singiser seem to be the most successful. Mawhinney is seen as a manager who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty and who provides the clear directions that employees in this culture seem to want.
Singiser has been at the resort for 12 years and this provides evidence to the locals that she is committed to the resort and to them. She has not separated her personal life from work and has developed strong relationships with her employees. These attributes are consistent with the cultural norms of the BVI and why she is respected to such a large degree. Steve Lucas, the Food and Beverage Director, seems to exhibit behaviors that would be ineffective regardless of the cultural context. It would be difficult to find a culture that would be accepting of reprimanding a senior employee in front of other staff members.
Dave Pickering, although not designated as a leader, seems to be exhibiting behaviors that would be effective for an informal leader in many Western cultures. Specifically, Pickering seems to be trying to lead through setting a positive example. Unfortunately, his efforts do not seem to work in this cultural context-an outcome that you should press the class to explain. One possible explanation has to do with the collectivist nature of the local culture. Standing out, or leading by example, is seen as behavior that is deviating from group norms and is therefore looked down upon.
The resort’s practice of allowing managers like Fitch and Johnson to be at the resort only a limited amount of time could well cause managerial problems regardless of any cultural differences present. Managing from a distance can often make employees feel as though the business is not a priority with off-site managers. In such situations, employees often behave “appropriately” when the manager is around and then revert to “inappropriate” or “normal” behavior when the manager leaves. Class members are likely to propose, perhaps correctly, that the resort’s managers should reside on the island and be on-site on an almost daily basis.
Although the situation could not be avoided, it is unfortunate that Lucas had such little time to adjust to the local culture and prepare for the coming week. Lucas has also separated himself from the group by not socializing with them during his free time. Expatriate managers often find comfort in speaking with other expatriates but this significantly reduces the chance of understanding the local culture. Interacting during free time can reduce the barriers between people and thus might provide the opportunity for Lucas to develop an understanding of the locals’ behaviors.
One related question you may wish to raise concerns whether Lucas’s behavior is due to a lack of cultural understanding or simply represents poor people management skills regardless of cultural issues. The situation in the case makes it difficult to separate out the impact of cultural differences either on Lucas or on his staff. Lucas might have approached the situation differently if working in the United States, but we are not sure of his past management style and experience.
The government limits the number of expatriate managers that an organization can hire, limits the power that organizations have to fire workers or lay them off during slow seasons, and organizations are increasingly pressured to promote local BVI employees into management positions. Without the local government regulations and policies, solutions to the case might be quite easy. WIYCR management could simply hire expatriate staff members who are more qualified, reduce staff levels during the slow season, and fire employees who were not meeting expectations.
However, WIYCR, like other organizations operating outside of their home country, must learn to manage within the prevailing constraints. WIYCR could be more proactive in dealing with the limitations on the use of expatriate managers by training and developing local nationals for management positions. Such managers should have a strong understanding of the local culture and would not have to overcome the liability of being viewed as outsiders by other local employees. In the Caribbean, many resorts have sent their promising junior staff to hospitality management training programs in Bermuda and the Bahamas.
Another alternative pursued is allowing and encouraging expatriate managers to teach hospitality management in local community colleges. This further develops and increases the size of the local national management pool for the future. What short-term recommendations might Patrick Dowd make to Johnson to create immediate improvements at West Indies Yacht Club Resort? What longer-term recommendations are needed to improve the resort’s ability to meet the needs and expectations of its guests?