Hospitality ethics

Hospitality ethics

The term "Hospitality Ethics" is used to refer to two different, yet related, areas of study:

1. The philosophical study of the moral obligations that hold in hospitality relationships and practices.
2. The branch of business ethics that focuses on ethics in commercial hospitality and tourism industries.
Whereas Ethics goes beyond describing what is done, in order to prescribe what "should" be done; Hospitality Ethics prescribes what should be done in matters related to hospitality. Hospitality theories and norms are derived through a critical analysis of hospitality practices, processes, and relationships; in various cultures and traditions; and throughout history. Ultimately, hospitality theories are applied, and put to practice in commercial and non-commercial settings.

Hospitality Ethics in history

As a standard of conduct, hospitality has been variously considered throughout history as a law, an ethic, a principle, a code, a duty, a virtue, etc. These prescriptions were created for negotiating ambiguous relationships between guests, hosts, citizens, and strangers. Despite its ancient origins and ubiquity amongst human cultures, the concept of hospitality has received relatively little attention from moral philosophers, who have tended to focus their attention on other ethical concepts, e.g. good, evil, right, and wrong.

Yet hospitality as a moral imperative, or ethical perspective, preceded many other prescriptions for ethical behavior: In ancient Middle Eastern, Greek and Roman cultures, the Ethic of Hospitality was a code that demanded specific kinds of conduct from both guests and hosts. One example: Chivalry required men of station to offer food and lodging to any men of station that requested it.

In many ways, these standards of behavior have survived into the present day in the commercial hospitality industry, where descendents of the ancient ideas continue to inform current standards and practices.

Hospitality Ethics in theory

There are three main branches of ethics:

* Meta ethics...investigates the source of ethical judgments.
* Normative ethics...investigates and clarifies the content of our ethical theories.
* Applied ethics...investigates the applications of our ethical theories.

One particular hospitality ethics theory, called the Ethic of Hospitality, focuses on the guest-host relationship as the source of hospitality norms. It claims that wherever there is a host, there is a guest, and that actions and decisions originating from either has consequences for "both" agents. The Ethic of Hospitality sees the respective duties of guests and hosts as different, yet complementary, in both function and practice.

The philosophical investigation of the concepts surrounding hospitality, and the relationships between guests and hosts in various kinds of settings, is a potentially fruitful field of study for both theoretical and applied ethics.

Hospitality Ethics in practice

Ethics in commercial hospitality settings. Applied ethics is the branch of Ethics which investigates the application of our ethical theories and judgments. There are many branches of Applied Ethics: Business ethics, professional ethics, medical ethics, educational ethics, environmental ethics, and more.

Hospitality Ethics is a branch of Applied Ethics. In practice, it combines concerns of other branches of Applied Ethics, such as business ethics, environmental ethics, professional ethics, and more. For instance, when a local hospitality industry flourishes, potential ethical dilemmas abound: What effect do industry practices have on the environment? On the host community? On the local economy? On citizens' attitudes about their local community; about outsiders, tourists, and guests? These are the kinds of questions that Hospitality Ethics, as a version of Applied Ethics, might ask.

Since Hospitality and tourism combine to create one of the largest service industries in the world, there are many opportunities for both good and bad behavior, and right and wrong actions by hospitality and tourism practitioners. Ethics in these industries can be guided by codes of conduct, employee manuals, industry standards (whether implicit or explicit), and more.

Though the World Tourism Organization has proposed an industry-wide code of ethics, there is presently no universal code for the hospitality industry. Various textbooks regarding ethics in commercial hospitality settings have been published recently, and are currently used in hospitality education courses.

Additional guest-host perspectives.The Ethic of Hospitality, as one particular relational perspective, can also be used to guide ethical decision-making in commercial and non-commercial guest-host relationships.


See above.

ee also

* Ethics
* Hospitality
* Hospitality services
* Tourism
* Ethical tourism
* Sustainable development

External links

* [] is dedicated to educating hospitality educators, hospitality students, and hospitality practitioners about the Ethic of Hospitality; which is the relational decision-making perspective of guests and hosts who are engaged with one another in particular hospitality relationships and processes. The site contains resources for learning about the Ethic of Hospitality, and applying the ethic in hospitality-related ethical dilemmas and case studies. The site also provides links to additional Hospitality Ethics resources.
* [ The Isbell Hospitality Ethics Center] at Northern Arizona University is endowed by the family of the founder of Ramada Hotels and Resorts, Marion W. Isbell. The mission of the Isbell Hospitality Ethics Center is to improve the ethical climate in the hospitality industry by increasing ethical awareness in hospitality students and managers.


* Christine Jaszay. (2006). Ethical Decision-Making in the Hospitality Industry
* Karen Lieberman & Bruce Nissen. (2006). Ethics in the Hospitality And Tourism Industry
* Rosaleen Duffy and Mick Smith. The Ethics of Tourism Development
* Conrad Lashley and Alison Morrison. In Search of Hospitality
* Hospitality: A Social Lens by Conrad Lashley and Alison Morrison
* The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg
* Customer Service and the Luxury Guest by Paul Ruffino
* Fustel De Coulanges. The Ancient City: Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome
* Bolchazy. Hospitality in Antiquity: Livy's Concept of Its Humanizing Force
* Jacques Derrida. (2000). Of Hospitality. Trans. Rachel Bowlby. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
* Steve Reece. (1993). The Stranger's Welcome: Oral Theory and the Aesthetics of the Homeric Hospitality Scene. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
* Mireille Rosello. (2001). Postcolonial Hospitality. The Immigrant as Guest. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press.
* Clifford J. Routes. (1999). Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
* Immanuel Velikovsky. (1982). Mankind in Amnesia. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.

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