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Power, accommodation and resistance: A Foucauldian perspective on how internal management controls are compromised in Chinese hotels

Purpose The purpose of the thesis is to consider elements of internal management controls employed in hotels in China, specifically with respect to accounting and behavioural control. Accounting and behavioural controls involve mechanisms used to motivate, monitor, measure and sanction the actions of managers and other employees. Internal management control is part of a system of integrated elements (people, structures, processes and procedures) acting together to provide reasonable assurance that an organisation achieves its business goals. The thesis concentrates on internal management control. Accounting controls, being a subset of internal management controls, suit tasks that are routine, familiar and certain; where few exceptions are likely to challenge routines. Examples of mechanisms studied involve highly standardised production models where: costing, budgeting and targeted performance outputs are applied. In contrast, behavioural controls are used to target similar objectives, except those which require tasks that are transparent in terms of input-output, familiarity and routine. The essential difference between accounting and behavioural controls being timeliness; behavioural controls are to be preferred where tasks are to be monitored in real-time rather than after the event. The latter being the territory for accounting controls. While research shows culture effects control few researchers have adopted a qualitative Foucauldian approach. This thesis employs a Foucauldian approach to investigate how internal management controls have developed within the Chinese hospitality industry. Method Two approaches are employed to investigate the research question: ethnographic observations and interviews with staff. The decision to employ an ethnographic approach arose because the researcher had previously worked in the hospitality industry where she was trained as a manager. Interviewees were staff who worked in the hotel industry in China. Findings The thesis details incidents involving various forms of accommodation with managers that resulted in breaches of internal management controls. Such accommodation may simply be a means to preserve job security, reduce work load, or obtain a promotion; in all these cases its effect is to compromise internal management controls. Contributions This study makes a contribution by applying Foucauldian theory in a Chinese hotel organisational context. The findings disclose not so much overt resistance to controls, but rather resistance by means of accommodation. Second, the thesis explains how internal management controls may be compromised in spite of the use of disciplinary techniques, such as surveillance, enclosure, discourse, and examination. The thesis illustrates accounting’s evaluating and disciplinary aspects. The thesis tries to acquaint the reader with an environment of subjugation and control where accommodation with superiors becomes a necessity. Workers seek to please their supervisors and managers through gift-giving and favours, but in so doing they corrupt the control and performance standards that the managers should protect.
Type of thesis
Wang, J. (2018). Power, accommodation and resistance: A Foucauldian perspective on how internal management controls are compromised in Chinese hotels (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12440
The University of Waikato
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