Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Susan Arendt


People with disabilities are a viable segment of the population from which hospitality managers can hire employees. Once hired, hospitality managers must assure adequate training for all employees; training is an important human resource management function that can increase productivity in any organization. This study aimed to assess current training topics and methods used with employees with disabilities, as well as managers' knowledge and attitudes about people with disabilities, in hotels, restaurants, and school foodservice operations in the United States. Interviews and questionnaires were used for data collection.

For the questionnaire, a total of 1,199 managers and foodservice authorities were contacted, and 201 questionnaires were returned (17% response rate). Of the 201 returned and analyzed questionnaires, 61 were from hotel managers, 63 from restaurant managers, and 77 from school foodservice authorities. More than half of the respondents were female (63%) and Caucasian (52.6%). More than half of the participants had been working for the hospitality industry for more than 15 years (56%) and reported having some experience with people with disabilities (83%). Similar results were obtained from the interviews where the majority of participants were female (60%), half of them had been working for the hospitality industry more than 15 years, and all reported having experience with people with disabilities.

During the nine interviews, participants were asked to define disabilities. Participants voiced their perceptions of the definition of disabilities as a personal view or, in some cases, as defined by their organizations. Most participants agreed there was no common definition of disability, and some mentioned that was something they needed to think about and it was really hard to define. Participants referred to disability as a challenge to perform the job or the need to have an accommodation to do the job.

Questionnaire respondents gave a neutral response ( mean rating 3.30 on a scale where 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree) to knowledge questions about disability-related topics such as specific types of disabilities, training for specific types of disabilities, Americans with Disability Act (ADA), federal and state benefits of hiring people with disabilities, reasonable accommodations, legal issues, hiring process for disabled people, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) role. Topics with the highest mean ratings were: knowledgeable about ADA (3.68), physical disabilities (3.66), mental disabilities (3.52), and reasonable accommodation (3.46).

The training methods most commonly used, as reported by questionnaire respondents, were on-the-job training (96%), demonstrations (78%), and self-guided training (53%). The training tools most commonly used were text and manuals (68%); audio/video tapes, DVDs, and CDs (53%); and computer programs (40%). The most commonly reported training topics for hotel and restaurant employees were cleaning procedures (93%), customer service (93%), equipment usage/cleaning (88%), knowledge of product (87%), and communication skills (85%). The most commonly reported training topics for school foodservice employees were food safety (99%), cleaning procedures (99%), equipment usage/cleaning (97%), handling of food (97%), and food preparation (96%).

Attitudinal questions were analyzed for the two groups: commercial (hotels and restaurants) and noncommercial (school foodservices). In general, hotel and restaurant managers and school foodservice authorities had a neutral attitude toward employees with disabilities with means of 3.26 and 3.31, respectively.

Factor analysis was conducted and correlations were calculated to ensure there was a significant correlation between the statements within each factor. For both groups, four factors with loadings higher than 0.400 were extracted. Factors were named based on the items included in each one of them. Factor 1 was named "Teamwork and Costs," factor 2 "Training," factor 3 was labeled "Characteristics," and factor 4 "Skills." Mean scores were computed for each of the four attitudinal factors. The mean score for Factor 4 (Skills) was the highest of the four factors for both groups. For the hotel and restaurant group, statistically significant differences (p  .001) were found between mean scores for factor 1 (Teamwork and Costs) and ethnicity of participants (Caucasian or other ethnicity); Caucasians had a higher mean (3.23). Mean scores for Factor 4 (Skills) were statistically significant (p  .05) based on age and number of years working for the current organization. Hotel and restaurant managers' ages and number of years working for their current organization had an effect on their attitudes toward employees with disabilities in relation to the importance of providing training on specific skills. For the school group, statistically significant differences (p . 05) were found between mean scores for Factor 4 (Skills) and ethnicity of participants (Caucasian or other ethnicity); respondents from the non-Caucasian subgroup had the higher mean (4.18).

This study provides information for hospitality industry managers about training methods and topics currently used. Managers' ages and years worked for the current organization had an effect on attitudes related to the importance of training people with disabilities. Ethnicity had an effect on attitudes related to teamwork.


Copyright Owner

Paola Paez



Date Available


File Format


File Size

130 pages