The role of cultural intelligence in the trust and turnover of frontline hotel employees in Thailand

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Akaraphun Ratasuk


Employee turnover is a challenging organizational issue that managers cannot avoid. It limits a company’s performance and causes substantial unnecessary expenses and loss, such as in training expenses, time, and effort. In an intercultural context like that of the hotel industry, particularly for those employees who work in the frontline encountering guests and colleagues of diverse cultural backgrounds, employee turnover is a severe and inevitable problem. This research examined whether cultural competence can help solve this problem. Its main objective was to investigate the role of cultural intelligence (CQ) in the turnover intention of frontline hotel employees and the mediating role of interpersonal trust. The sample group was chosen using stratified random sampling. Six hundred questionnaires were issued to frontline hotel employees working for 30 hotels located in five of the world’s most famous tourist-destination cities, namely, Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiangmai, Krabi, and Phuket. Four hundred twenty-eight valid questionnaires were returned and computed using a partial least squares (PLS) regression analysis. The results show that CQ lowered the turnover intention of frontline hotel employees directly. CQ also increased the interpersonal trust among the employees. Apparently, the development of interpersonal trust among the employees reduced their turnover intention. The Sobel test results show that interpersonal trust is partially mediated between CQ and the frontline hotel employee turnover intention. The results also show that employee age positively moderated the relationship between CQ and the turnover intention. Hence, hotel human resource managers should include CQ training as a part of their employee management and development activities to foster trust and discourage turnover intention among employees.


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