Managers of independent hotels need to maximise organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) among employees to gain sufficient competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive environment, so it is important to understand what affects it. To achieve this, the purpose of this paper is to test if servant leadership, OCB and other related constructs have the same relationships between them in two contrasting parts of the world.
Survey data were gathered from managers of independent hotels in Spain (451) and Iran (429). Spain was selected because it is a developed country that is a leading destination for tourists. Iran was chosen as a contrast, as it is a developing country with a growing tourist industry.
The findings show that Spain and Iran demonstrate different patterns of relationships in the selected variables, suggesting that Iranians trust their leaders more than the organisational systems, whereas the Spanish trust organisational systems more than their leaders. These results are consistent with Spanish culture having higher individualism than Iranian culture. They are also consistent with Iranian culture prioritising traditional values, such as personal loyalty to managers, and Spanish culture prioritising modern values, such as impersonal rules and objective processes.
This study suggests that leadership and justice affect OCB in different ways where modern values prevail compared to where traditional values prevail. It suggests that managers of independent hotels in Iran should follow the example of Spanish hotel managers by adopting more objective and fair procedures while showing that inward investors and expatriate managers in Iran should be aware of the importance of personal leadership style. Further research is needed in different countries and regions to improve the generalisability of our findings.
This study contributes to the literature on the application of the servant leadership construct, which was developed in the West, to other regional contexts. It also adds to the literature of independent hotels, which is an important yet under-researched part of the hospitality industry.