The Determinants of Career Decision Making of Hospitality Undergraduate Students Enrolled in Universities within Nairobi Metropolis, Kenya


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JOHN KAHUTHU GITAU, B.Sc. [H.T.M] T129/25669/2011






This thesis is my original work and has not been presented for a degree in any other University.

Signature: Date:

John Kahuthu Gitau - T129/25669/2011 Department of Hospitality Management


We confirm that the work reported in this thesis was carried by the candidate under our supervision.

Signature: Date:

Dr. Bichage Gesage

Department of Hospitality and Tourism Kenya Methodist University

Signature: Date:

Mrs. Rahab Mugambi



To my parents (Mr. Peter Gitau and Mrs. Josephine Gathoni), who always taught me to be an individual, to make every effort for excellence, that hard work is always worth the effort, and to never give up.



Foremost, I would like to appreciate the almighty God for the gift of life, strength, knowledge and persistence during the entire time of this thesis. My appreciation goes to my supervisors - Dr. Bichage Gesage and Mrs. Rahab Mugambi for their unwavering commitment and guidance. Your leadership and feedback have been immeasurable. To my parents (Mr. Peter Gitau & Mrs. Josephine Gathoni), I emphatically appreciate you for always being there for me – in thinness and thickness of times. To all my siblings (Naftary Kamau, Monica Njoki, Peter Kimani & Paul Njoroge), thank you a lot for your incessant encouragement towards accomplishing this thesis and that giving up is not an option.

I also want to appreciate Dr. Alice Ondigi (Dean School of Hospitality and Tourism) for always being there for me and for the endless support - I cannot thank you enough: May God bless you abundantly. The work would not have been completed without a special mention of some people: these are my lecturers who have always been there for me. I appreciate your support academically, professionally and socially while doing this work.











ABSTRACT ... xii



1.1 Background to the Study ... 1

1.2 Statement of the Problem ... 3

1.3 Purpose of the Study ... 5

1.4 Objectives of the Study ... 5

1.4.1 General Objective ... 5

1.4.2 Specific Objectives ... 5

1.5 Study Hypotheses ... 6

1.6 Significance of the Study ... 6

1.7 Scope of the Study ... 8

1.7.1 Subject Scope ... 8

1.7.2 Geographical Scope ... 8

1.8 Limitations of the Study ... 8

1.9 Conceptual Framework ... 9

1.9.1 Explanation of the Model ... 10



2.0 Introduction ... 12

2.1 Understanding the Concept of Career Decision Making ... 13

2.2 Career Paths in Hospitality and Tourism Industry ... 14

2.3 Demographic Factors and Career Decision Making ... 16


2.5 Internship Experiences and Participants’ Career Decision Making ... 21

2.6 Theoretical Frameworks of Career Decision Making ... 23

2.6.1 Psychological Approach Theory: Theory of Career Anchors (TCA) ... 24

2.6.2 Sociological Approach Theory: Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) .... 26

2.6.3 Experiential Marketing Theory ... 29

2.7 Summary of Reviewed Literature and Identified Gaps ... 30



3.0 Introduction ... 33

3.1 Research Design ... 33

3.2 Study Area ... 34

3.3 Target Population ... 35

3.4 Sampling Techniques ... 36

3.5 Sample Size ... 37

3.6 Data Collection Instruments ... 39

3.7 Pretesting ... 40

3.8 Validity and Reliability ... 41

3.8.1 Validity ... 41

3.8.2 Reliability ... 42

3.9 Data Collection Techniques ... 43

3.10 Data Analysis ... 44

3.11 Logistical and Ethical Considerations ... 46



4.0 Introduction ... 48

4.1 Participants’ Demographic Profile ... 48

4.1.1 Gender ... 49

4.1.2 Age ... 50

4.1.3 Education Qualification Background ... 51

4.2 Participants’ Career Profiles ... 52

4.2.1 Job Interest in the Hospitality Industry ... 52

4.2.2 Participants’ Career intention in the Hospitality Industry ... 53

4.3 Participants’ Internship Information ... 54


4.3.2 Hospitality Sub-sectors during Internship ... 59

4.3.3 Duration of Internship Programmes ... 59

4.3.4 Nature of Jobs during Internships ... 61

4.4 Participants’ Choice of Hospitality as a Career Course ... 62

4.5 Participants’ Career Interest to Work in the Hospitality Industry ... 64

4.6. Positive Internship Experiences and Career Decision Making ... 66

4.6.1 Affective Experiences ... 67

4.6.2 Sensory Experiences ... 67

4.6.3 Physical Experiences ... 68

4.6.4 Relational Experiences ... 68

4.6.5 Creative-Cognitive Experiences ... 68

4.7 Negative Internship Experiences on Career Decision Making ... 69

4.8 Participants’ Career Intentions after Internship Experiences ... 70

4.9 Hypotheses Testing ... 72

4.9.1 Hypotheses based on Demographic Factors ... 75

4.9.2 Hypothesis based on Individual Background Factors ... 76

4.9.3 Hypothesis based on Career Outcome Expectations ... 77

4.9.4 Hypotheses based on Internship Experiences ... 78



5.0 Introduction ... 79

5.1 Summary of Research Findings ... 80

5.2 Conclusions ... 81

5.3 Study Recommendations ... 83

5.3. a. Recommendations for Policy ... 83

5.3. b. Recommendations for Practice ... 84

5.3. c. Recommendations for Future Research ... 84



Appendix A: Research Instrument ... 94

Appendix B: Budget ... 98

Appendix C: Work Plan: 2012-2016 ... 100

Appendix D: Sampling Frame ... 101



Table 3.1. Target Population ... 36

Table 3.2. Sample Size ... 39

Table 3.3. Cronbach Alpha Coefficients for Internal Reliability ... 43

Table 3.4. Summary of the Proposed Study Hypotheses ... 45

Table 4.1. Participants’ Career Decisions Associated with Gender ... 50

Table 4.2. Participants’ Career Intention Associated with Age ... 51

Table 4.3. Participants’ Job Interest in the Hospitality Industry ... 53

Table 4.4. Career Intention in the Hospitality Industry ... 53

Table 4.5. Status of Participants’ Internship and Career Intention ... 55

Table 4.6. Participants’ Job Places during Internship ... 59

Table 4.7. Units of Internship and Career Interests in the Hospitality Industry ... 59

Table 4.8. Duration of Internship and Career Intention ... 61

Table 4.9. Nature of Jobs During Internships and Career Intentions ... 62

Table 4.10. Participants’ Choice of Hospitality as a Career Course ... 62

Table 4.11. Career Interests to Work in the Hospitality Industry ... 64

Table 4.12. Positive Internship Experiences on Career Decision Making ... 66

Table 4.13. Negative Internship Experiences on Career Decision Making... 69

Table 4.14. Career Intentions following Internship Experiences ... 70

Table 4.15. Regression Analysis Model Summary ... 73



Figure 1.1: Study Conceptual Framework for Measuring Career Decision Making 10

Figure 4.1. Participants’ Gender Profile ... 49

Figure 4.2. Participants’ Age Profile ... 50

Figure 4.3. Participants’ Education Background ... 52

Figure 4.4. Participants’ Internship Status ... 54

Figure 4.5. Duration of Participants’ Internships ... 60




: In the current study standpoint, career decision-making refers to a process that defines the choice that an individual makes regarding a particular career.

Career outcome expectations

: Refers to anticipations an individual have regarding a chosen career path

Determinants : Refers to factors that influences what happens to career decision making


undergraduate student

: Student taking a hospitality management degree in a university and not any other degree course.

Demographic factors : These refers to students’ gender and age. Individual background


: These are the factors that characterizes a persons’ background comprising of the influence from parents, mentors, media, and peers, industry profile, word of mouth advertising, and availability of job in the industry to name but a few which influences the choice an individual takes pertaining his or her career

Internship : It is used in the study to refer to an integration of students’ learnt theories in class with the industry by participating in scheduled and supervised work Internship experience : Experience as it relates to work-placement refers to

students’ previous happenings and feelings towards an industry engagement during the period of internship that might have occurred


ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS CUE Commission for University Education

GDP Gross Domestic Product

GoK Government of Kenya

H&T Hospitality & Tourism

ILO International Labor Organization

KMO Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin

MHE Ministry of Higher Education

MEAACT Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism MDP Ministry of Devolution and Planning

MoT Ministry of Tourism

NACOSTI National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovations NSEE National Society of Experiential Learning

PCA Principal Component Analysis SCCT Social Cognitive Career Theory

SPSS Statistical Package for Social Sciences SMEs Small to Medium Enterprises

TCA Theory of Career Anchors




CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1Background to the Study

The tourism industry is one of the fastest growing compared to other sectors of the global economy and account for more than one third of the total global services trade (United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO], 2014). International tourism grew by 1,138 million international arrivals in 2014 which was an increase by nearly 4.7% over the previous year (UNWTO, 2014). Since 1990, international tourism arrivals across the regions have increased by 4.3% annually and the UNWTO expects them to rise by 4% per annum over the next 20 years. By region, growth of international tourism arrivals is expected to increase by 2% to 5% in Africa alone (World Travel and Tourism Council [WTTC], 2012). Given this rapid growth of tourism, there is need for skilled workers at all levels of the industry. One of the most important sectors of the tourism industry is the hospitality industry.


world’s total labor force in 1999, skyrocketed to an approximately 8%, and generated more than 235 million jobs worldwide in 2010 (ILO, 2014).

Additionally, the industry is viewed as among the sectors that requires varying degrees of skills that allow for quick entry into the workforce by youth (ILO, 2014). According to UNWTO (2014) the industry is expected to create in excess of 296 million jobs by 2019 representing 9.2% of all global jobs (WTTC, 2010). Given these international and regional figures, it is quite clear that the hospitality industry is very imperative for the growth and development of economies and as a source of employment opportunities.

In Kenya, the hospitality and tourism industry generates massive employment opportunities and engenders a considerable number of economic activities. It is a backbone for economy of many countries, Kenya not being an exception (WTTC, 2013). In this respect, the hospitality and tourism industry is at the heart of the Kenyan economy and is known for its high job creation (Government of Kenya [GoK], 2008). Although it is predicted to grow significantly, the development of skilled labor force capable of providing high professional standards to attract up market tourists remain a daunting endeavor (GoK, 2008).


should be attracting. In line with this need, the issue of career decision making in the hospitality industry is not new. According to Kerka (2000) career decision making and hence choice, is influenced by a number of factors. These factors include demographics (gender and age), career outcome expectations, and individual background factors. In addition, internship experiences have been found to have an important influence on the way student interns make career choices. Early empirical studies in United Kingdom addressing Human Resource Management in the hospitality industry revealed that even with high demand for employees, the hospitality industry has for long been facing difficulties in attracting and retaining employees (Boella & Goss-Turner, 2005). It is on this background that the study sought to establish the determinants of career decision making from the hospitality undergraduate students’ perspective.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Hotel institutions are irrefutably the most meaningful feature of the hospitality industry. It has therefore become an important element in the management of tourist destinations. Kenya in particular, the Ministry for Devolution and Planning (MDP) (2012) reported quite significant figures. In 2012, the hotels and restaurants accounted for 34% of tourism earnings which underlines the importance of this sector of the Kenyan hospitality industry (MDP, 2012). Despite the industry’s growth projections and the ability to create numerous employment opportunities, a shortfall of skilled personnel has been documented in the hospitality industry.


sought to fill this gap by looking at the determinants of career decision making. Specifically, the study sought to look at the effect of demographics (gender and age), career outcome expectations, individual background factors, and internship experiences.

Even with the high growth of the hospitality industry and the consequential generation of myriad jobs, the industry has been experiencing a challenge in recruiting professional staff that would match up the up-market tourists ever increasing demands. Early empirical studies in Australia by Rudall, Deery and Stewart (1996) and Jenkins (2001) exploring hospitality careers among hospitality students revealed that a high proportion of students expressed little interest in pursuing a career in the industry after graduation. Although, hospitality students are naturally regarded as potential employees when they are in campus, they unfortunately show unwillingness to work in the industry upon graduation. Thus, the hospitality industry practitioners and academia have sought to understand what determinants drive career decision making in the industry (Jiang & Tribe, 2009; Richardson, 2009).


influence of internship experiences on career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students. Therefore, this study sought to fill this gap by establishing the determinants of career decision making within the context of hospitality undergraduate students while incorporating the influence of internship experiences. It is hoped that the findings would be valuable in suggesting essential determinants of career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students and may add meaningful information for developing their careers after graduation.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

In line with the problem statement, the purpose of the study was to investigate the determinants of career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students and to examine the influence of internship experiences on their career choices in the hospitality industry following graduation.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The study was guided by the following objectives; 1.4.1 General Objective

The main objective of the study was to establish the determinants of career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students. This objective, the following specific objectives were set;

1.4.2 Specific Objectives

i. To establish the effect of demographic factors (gender and age) on career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students;

ii. To determine the influence of individual background factors on career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students;


iv. To examine the relationship between internship experiences and career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students.

1.5 Study Hypotheses

On the basis of the study objectives, the study sought to test the following null hypotheses:

H01a: There is no relationship between gender and career decision making for hospitality undergraduate students;

H01b: There is no relationship between age and career decision making for hospitality undergraduate students;

H02: There is no relationship between individual background factors and career decision making for hospitality undergraduate students;

H03: There is no relationship between career outcome expectations and career decision making for hospitality undergraduate students;

H04a: There is no relationship between positive internship experiences and career decision making for hospitality undergraduate students;

H04b: There is no relationship between negative internship experiences and career decision making for hospitality undergraduate students.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The significance of this study is based on the research findings that it provides to the Commission for University Education (CUE) by serving as a reference point in policy enhancement regarding the way hospitality curriculums are reviewed and structured to cater for the practical elements in order to bridge the theoretical gap between the industry and the academia.


hospitality curriculum offered in various academic institutions. The findings would provide valuable suggestions for the development of enhanced internship models that incorporate long-periods of working. This may encourage the students to seek a long-term career in the industry that would provide them with an ample time to appreciate the practical reality of the hospitality industry. Eventually, this would help to address the shortage of skilled labor-force as documented in the Kenya vision 2030.

Besides, the hospitality industry practitioners are likely to find the findings of the study invaluable while developing appropriate internship models that would assist students with effective future career planning and orientations. In addition, the findings are helpful in policy formulation regarding the structuring and design of internship programs that are directed towards enhancing the students’ practical experiences and expectations. This would in turn encourage the students to seek for jobs in the industry as they are the source of the needed professionalism in order to cope up with the advancements of the modern hospitality industry.

To the hospitality academia, findings of this thesis are useful in developing hospitality internship and industrial specific education which delivers practical experiences and proficient skills to students as future industry professionals. Furthermore, the findings are valuable in ensuring that students are appropriately prepared for the industry working environment by being made aware of the industry values and anticipations during coursework.


theoretical knowledge vis a vis the industry practice, but also may fundamentally inspire and strengthen their own knowledge, skills and abilities after their industrial engagement. For future research, researchers who are keen on furthering their studies on different aspects of career decision making will rely on this study as a plausible databank.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The study was conducted within the following domains: 1.7.1 Subject Scope

The study covered the determinants of career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students. Precisely, the study sought to address the effects of demographic factors, career learning factors, career outcome expectations and internship experiences on career decision making.

1.7.2 Geographical Scope

The study was carried out in Nairobi Metropolis. The region covers four Metros: core metro (Nairobi county), Northern Metro (Kiambu County), Southern Metro (Kajiado and Olekejuado) and Eastern Metro (Machakos county) (GoK, 2008). Not only is the area a home to majority of accredited private and public universities that offer undergraduate hospitality management course, it also has considerable number of star rated hotels that offer internship opportunities to students, thus suited the study.

1.8 Limitations of the Study


example, results need to be interpreted with caution when applied to other institutions offering hospitality courses such as private and public colleges.

Second, only hospitality undergraduate students in their fourth academic year were sampled. Thus, generalization of the results needs to be prudently conducted. For instance, the findings should be interpreted with prudence when applied to different categories of hospitality students such as those in the first, second and third academic years, diplomas and certificates. Lastly, as with most survey research, common method bias may be present, since the data were collected using self-reported measures.

1.9 Conceptual Framework


Figure 1.1: Study Conceptual Framework for Measuring Career Decision Making

1.9.1 Explanation of the Model

Career decision making is not a single-faceted process; it is a complex one that heavily depends on a number of factors. The conceptual model reveals the interrelationships that exist amongst the study variables; independent and dependent variables. Career decision making starts way before when a student seeks to join a particular university for a particular course; a process called career learning which is

Demographic Factors (Gender, age)

Individual background Factors (Possibility of university entry, previous work experience, personal career choice, role of mentors and family, media advertisements, word of mouth from hospitality students)

Career Outcome Expectations

(Job that fits: age, personality, education qualification, financial needs and lifestyle, job that is positively viewed by my friends and family, career status and prospects, job incentives and organization profile)

Internship Experiences

(Sensory: perceptual experiences associated with satisfaction, affective: emotions and feelings, creative cognitive: cognitions that persuade personal thought, physical: as a result of interactions that indulges an individual to long-term behavior patterns, and relational: establishes of peer influence and other relations)

Career Decision Making

(Willingness to seek a career in the hospitality industry, satisfaction with internship experience, hospitality industry recommendations, complaints during internship, willingness to return to the industry after internship, willingness to change career, thoughts of suspending school)


influenced by an individual background factors. This process is defined by various factors including subject interest, job opportunities, career prospects, influence by mentors, advertisement, previous work experience and the possibility of university entry. These variables were measured by asking the students which factors compelled them to join a particular university and why they choose hospitality management as a course that would define their career after graduation.

There are numerous determinants that influence the decision an individual take regarding a particular career. The determinants are different and may either influence career decision making positively or negatively. They include demographic factors (gender and age) as well the opportunity to undertake work placement. These factors were measured by asking students on what would influence them in choosing hospitality management as a career course and pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.

In addition, career outcome expectations points to the direction in which students make career decision making. These expectations comprised of job that fits participants’ age, personality, education qualification, financial needs and lifestyle, job that is positive viewed by my friends and family, career status and prospects, job incentives and organization profile.


that include willingness to engage in the industry, recommend other people, work and satisfaction. Conversely, negative ones may bring external and internal complaints, career transition, willingness to change internship unit and even suspend schooling. Internship experiences were measured by asking the students on whether or not they were willing to seek a career in the hospitality industry.



information on the concept of career decision making in the hospitality industry. This study is based on career decision making and therefore, career paths in the hospitality industry are discussed. The chapter follows on to look specifically at various determinants (demographic factors, individual background factors, career outcome expectations and internship experiences) that point to the direction students make career choices. Additionally, a section revealing theories used to explain how students make career choices follows. These theories are based on two approaches; (1) psychological, and (2) sociological. Experiential marketing theory is also discussed to establish the effect of internship experiences on participants’ career decision making process and future engagement with the hospitality industry. In conclusion, this chapter identifies the possible gaps that exist in literature and therefore the need for this thesis.

2.1 Understanding the Concept of Career Decision Making

In order to conceptualize the study topic at hand, a brief introduction into the meaning of career decision making is important. The process is meaningful in identifying and understanding the factors that are involved in an individual career decisions making process. The broader definitions of a career draw attention to the concept of career development which Brown and Brooks (1990, as cited in Patton & McMahon, 2014) described as being “for most people a lifelong process of getting ready to choose, choosing, and typically continuing to make choices from among the many occupations available in our society” (p.7).


of study after leaving school; 2) deciding on post-graduate studies; 3) deciding on a job offer; 4) making a change in career field; 5) choosing to specialize in a specific area within your chosen field; and 6) deciding whether to start an individual own business.

Frank Parsons initially introduced the notion of career decision-making in 1909 (Patton & MacMahon, 2014). He discussed his ideas about the way careers are selected in his book ‘Choosing a Vocation’. Parson suggested that vocational choices are premised on three broad factors: 1) an explicit understanding of an individual abilities, interests, ambitions, resources, shortcomings and knowledge of their causes; 2) knowledge of the requirements, success situations, pros and cons, compensation, and prospects in different lines of work; and 3) true reasoning on the relations of these two groups of facts (Jones, 1994). Although Parsons’ views of vocational choice were introduced in 1909, the concept of career decisions and the term career decision making were not properly acknowledged until the 1950s (Patton & McMahon, 2014).

In 1979, Michael Krumboltz introduced his social learning theory of career decision-making and for the first time the term career decision-decision-making was used (Brown, 2002). Parson’s three broad factors are vital as they help individuals to gain a better understanding of themselves and their career alternatives and therefore enhance an individual capability to make effective career choices. These broad factors continue to form the basis for the current theoretical approach to career decision making.


The increased growth of tourism and hospitality industry globally presents career opportunities and allows tourism and hospitality academia and practitioners to create different career paths for employees (Ghuangpeng, 2011). With regard to this growth, the potential employees can be provided with the opportunity to choose the most suitable, satisfying and successful career path in the tourism and hospitality industry (Ghuangpeng, 2011).

The industry attracts individuals with different education and work backgrounds. For example, Goeldner and Ritchie (2006) have found that employees choose careers that match their perceived personal interests. Based on their findings, it could therefore be expected that those who enjoy working as chefs like cooking and have positive opinions and attitudes towards gastronomy. Similarly, Goeldner and Richie (2006) have also recognized that hospitality and tourism employees come from different backgrounds and may or may not have relevant skills, knowledge or qualification before employment.

Other previous researches have supported this claim. For example, Hjalager and Anderson (2001) study in Denmark which found that many employees enter the industry with no formal education other than primary or secondary school qualifications, and only less than 10% have university qualifications. A more similar trend has been found among hotels managers in China (Li, Tse, & Xie, 2007) .


establishing the academic qualifications of the respondents, it shed light on the diverse academic backgrounds of those who eventually gets into the industry. 2.3 Demographic Factors and Career Decision Making

Career decision making is a complex process and largely depends on a number of factors. Seeking and pursuing a career in the hospitality industry may entirely depend on a variety of factors. The individual factors can largely act as fuel or a bar to students in their career decision-making and include gender, age and other personal attributes.

Gender plays a significant role in assessing career options amongst students in the hospitality industry. For instance, in the hotel sector males are perceived to be better placed to get a better employment than females (Anafarta & Cizel, 2003). The hospitality industry also seems to have stereotypical standpoints regarding types of work that males and females should take. Men are viewed as suiting Food and Beverage jobs whereas females housekeeping, sales and marketing (Wood, 1997) and administration (Hjalager & Anderson, 2001). Males are also viewed to advance in managerial positions whereas females are inclined to family matters than the organization ones. Li and Leung (2001) have argued that the pressure amongst the females of balancing work and family responsibilities may influence their career prospects and satisfaction.


evidenced by a study that investigated career paths of hotel managers in China land which found one third of total number of managers in hotels were females (Li et al., 2007).

Another individual factor that may have an influence on how students make career choices is age. In a study carried out in United Kingdom (UK) by Janta (2011), Martin and Gardiner (2007) investigating employment in the hospitality industry revealed that 80% of employees were between 18-29 years. Students’ personal attributes are by far considered to have an influence into the way they make decisions regarding careers to take. For example, a previous empirical study done by Akrivos, Ladkin and Reklitis (2007) revealed that individuals with particular personal attributes are better placed to have a remarkable career progression in the hospitality industry than those without them. These traits may include being flexible in work, enthusiasm, good communication abilities and ability to handle changes and fit in the organization characterized by personnel from all walks of cultures. In addition, Harkinson, Poulston, and Kim (2011) suggested the ability to remain calm in harder and trying times as an attribute that makes an individual fit for hospitality industry.


showed high satisfaction with teaching as a career, 7% had fathers and 16% had mothers who were teachers.

Socioeconomic background is another factor that seems to influence how students make career decisions. A study by Greenbank and Hepworth (2008) on how students from working class families behave when making career decisions revealed that a lack of reliable financial support might influence students’ career and educational choices negatively. These students are prone to a limited career options and may also be very much unable to seek for an employment upon graduation.

Different scholars have argued that an internship offers a platform for students to explore the industry opportunities and learn about their future career. As a result, Smith, Dalton and Dolheguy (2004) have argued that students develop an inclination and confidence in making career decisions. In the opposite, students with some degree of internship experience tend to make decisions primarily based on career interests rather than the abilities allied with the career and also lack enough capacity to generate career options (Feldman & Whitcomb, 2005).

2.4 Individual Background Factors, Career Outcome Expectations and Career Decision Making


development of strategies that may help the youth in making rational career decisions and choices (Hodkinson, 1998).

Jeffreys (2004) has also suggested that the findings may be useful to academia by helping them to facilitate career opportunities for students’ that would assist them to achieve career success following graduation. Previous research has looked into students’ career decision making from two faces; (1) why students choose a particular course, and (2) what makes the students choose a particular job after graduation.

Empirical research based on the first face suggested that students chose to enroll in particular courses based on various reasons. For instance, a study by Maringe (2006) investigating the factors that young and youthful college students found imperative while selecting career courses revealed that they selected a course based on interest in the subject, employment opportunities and career prospects after graduation. Structure of the course, tuition fee and other costs related to the course were also found to contribute heavily on how decisions pertaining to career learning were made.


found that many students made decisions based on the choice of a university rather than the course into which they would be accepted.

While this was the case with many students, some students’ decision to select a course was fundamentally based on other perspectives including opportunities for job in the related industry, industry perceived image and previous internship experience. Thus, it is likely from these studies that students make career decision and choices based on job opportunities in the industry, family support and influence, and economic background, rather than specific career interests (Ghuangpeng, 2011).


2.5 Internship Experiences and Participants’ Career Decision Making

An internship has become an essential ingredient for a hospitality student’s career advancement and development. A good internship is believed to prepare students for successful careers. By definition an internship is any carefully monitored work experience in which an individual integrate job-related experience into graduate education, has intentional learning goals and reflects activity on what he or she is learning through the experience (Gault, Leach, & Duey, 2010; National Society of Experiential Education [NSEE], 2010).

Internship has a noteworthy history in the diverse field of higher education. In fact, it is very important in the hospitality curriculum not forgetting that, learning by doing will only make stronger class work knowledge by putting it into a practical context (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2006). One of the main aims of higher education is to prepare students for a future career (Santiago, 2009). In a classical perspective, higher education puts emphasis on giving students theoretical knowledge, but hospitality industry calls for practical skills. After students get internships, they experience frustration of mismatch between their expectations and real industrial practices.


Student interns on enrollment in the courses possess high expectations as to what the industry would offer. Many a times this seems to be distinguished or even revamped given the nature of the internship experience. For instance, in an Irish context, researches conducted by Failte (2005) and Malone (2007) found that student internship experiences are not always collectively positive. The findings revealed placement experiences that were uncaring and even hostile. Similarly, recent research undertaken in the UK indicates that students have found themselves being “thrown in at the deep end” (Walmsley, Thomas, & Jameson, 2006), while Zopiatis and Constanti (2007) have reported frustration and disappointment with the internship experience amongst Cypriot hospitality management students.

An internship is aimed at bridging the gap between theory and practice, however recent research has highlighted that there is a considerable mismatch between expectations of organizations and students (Birch, Allen, McDonald & Tomaszczyk, 2010; Gault et al., 2010). For example, students expect to be trained during their internship, whereas organizations expect students to be well-prepared before starting the work-placement so that they have limited additional costs in training and supervision (Gault et al., 2010; Hurst & Good, 2010). Along similar lines, there is a wider range of inconsistencies in what internship supervisors expect interns to be able to do. In many industry placements Beggs, Ross and Goodwin (2008) have argued that there is a deviation between what students believe they are capable of doing and what supervisors consider they can do.


leading to job opportunities which is not always the case in real sense (Beggs, Ross & Goodwin, 2008; Stratta, 2008). In some situations, student interns feel that hospitality organizations should provide them with full-time employment after completing their academic course work, or at the very least of all, help them in obtaining job opportunities (Beggs, Ross, & Goodwin, 2008).

Whitelaw (2003) concludes that, at best, academic programs only “adequately prepare” graduates for the realities of hospitality and tourism management. Moreover, it has been argued that a mismatch between the skills and expectations of graduate recruits to the industry, trainee management opportunities and the reality of working life are significant causes of graduate turnover (Heaton, McCracken, & Harrison, 2008), an issue which plagues the industry at all levels. Busby (2005) goes further to suggests that higher education programs may actually produce graduate disillusionment with the hospitality career path leading to many graduates seeking employment outside the industry altogether.

2.6 Theoretical Frameworks of Career Decision Making


Psychological approaches seek to describe or explain the way individuals make career decisions based on individual factors which include personality, interests, abilities and job satisfaction. These factors to a large extent influence the way individuals’ behave, think and respond to making career choices. While this is the case, sociological perspectives seek to develop a career decision making process that allows individuals to consider the relevance of a variety of determinants before they can make concrete career choices.

In broader sense, sociological based theories focus on two main factors; environmental and demographic (Johnson & Mortimer, 2002). Environmental factors constitute the social influences, such as the role of the family members, school friends, mentors, community values and practices, work environment and conditions, family connections to name a few. Demographic factors include gender, and age of the members.


The chief proposition underlying Schein’s model is that each individual has only one true career anchor (Feldman & Bolino, 1996). Schein’s argued that each individual simply cannot have two or more career anchors; if one anchor emerges clearly; it is because the person has not had enough life experience to develop priorities that determine how to make those choices (Feldman & Bolino, 1996). He also argued that career anchors essentially do not change.

Each Schein’s career anchor represents individuals’ expectations and competencies related to their career; which points to the direction in which career decisions are made. For example individuals who values autonomy tends to base their decisions on the nature of the job and the autonomy of working they need most (Schein, 1978). In this regard, Ituma and Simpson (2006) have underlined the importance of the concept of career anchors. They argued that it is useful for helping individuals to find a match between their career orientations and work environment. To the employers, it helps in providing employees with appropriate work environments which increase their career satisfaction and commitment to an organization (Baruch, 2004).


2.6.2 Sociological Approach Theory: Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT)

The theory of social learning has been, over the years, the most influential for the development of several sociological approaches to career decision making. The theory seeks to examine human behavior in terms of the relationship between the social environment and the way individuals learn, behave, and react within specific social environments. One of the main theories explained under the social learning theory is the Social Cognitive Career Theory [SCCT] by Lent, Brown and Hackett 1994).

This theory is grounded in Bandura (1986) social cognitive theory, and explores how career and academic interests mature, how career choices are developed, and how these choices are turned into action. The important preposition of the theory is premised on the entire interrelatedness between the cognitive, personal, and environmental dimensions in the determination of performance. SCCT draws on the three primary tenets: self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and goals (Lent et al., 1994).


decision-making will most probably have lower self-efficacy which would point to the direction in which career decisions and choices are made.

The personal expectations toward some special behaviors affect tendency or avoidance of behavior, which are referred to as outcome expectations (Lent & Brown, 2008). Outcome expectations are more influential as the individuals’ expect positive results from the behavior and is the reason the individuals are interested in presenting the behavior. This cognitive parameter is acquired through learning experiences with a strong focus on the consequences of behavior.

The difference between self-efficacy and outcome expectations relates to beliefs about performance and consequences of a particular behavior. Outcome expectation is an individual’s estimation that a certain behavior will result to a desired outcome. Based on Bandura’s (1977) perspective, outcome expectation always causes behavior stimulation. This means that personal belief towards likely and expected consequences or results originate from the behavior (Lent et al., 1994). For instance, an individual may choose a course based on the prospects of getting a job in the industry.


constitute a critical mechanism through which people exercise personal agency or self-empowerment. Bandura (1977) and Lent et al.’s (1994) have mentioned that, intention is the symptom of individuals’ decision and purpose for special behaviors to get a desirable outcome.

In SCCT, career interests are regulated by self-efficacy and an outcome expectation, which means people, will form lasting interests in activities when they experience personal competency and positive outcomes. On the contrary, a belief of low personal competency will lead people to avoid activities. Perceived barriers such as those related to gender, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or family constraints may create negative outcome expectations, even when people have had previous success in the given area. School counselors can help students who will be first-generation college students to reconsider some of their perceptions of college and of career, by providing activities and interventions to increase their options and success upon entry into college.


factors assessed in this thesis are those proposed by SCCT and TCA models, namely, demographic, individual background factors and career outcome expectations. According to social cognitive career theory, these factors are associated to each other. Nevertheless, this thesis did not seek to establish their associations, but rather their influence on career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students in Nairobi metropolis.

2.6.3 Experiential Marketing Theory

The theory of experiential marketing was coined by Schmitt. According to Schmitt (1999, as cited in Schmitt, 2010) experience refers to individuals’ incidents in response to the occurrence of certain stimuli, which by far include the whole nature of life and usually caused by direct observations of incidents or participation, regardless whether the occurrence is real or virtual. The theory was premised on how an organization may get the customers to sense, feel, think, act and relate to their brands. He proposed a theoretical structure of experiential marketing which was primarily based on the individual consumers mental theories. These propositions include: sensory, affective, creative-cognitive, relational and physical experiences.


participation, and involvement and lead customers to generate experiences for problems solving.

Physical experiences exceed the scope of emotions, feelings and cognitive approaches exhibited by the first three experiences. Schmitt (2010) argue that these experiences are most pertinent to long-term behavioral patterns, way of living, lifestyle and interpersonal experiences. Although, these experiences may occur in privacy, majority are as a result of numerous public interactions.

Last but not the least, relational experiences are established from peer influence standpoint. These experiences relate an individual to the outstanding esteem, and way of living through the addition of one’s personal experiences. The appeal of relational experiences is the desire for self-enhancement, creation of constructive thoughts from other people which in most cases relate students to more inclusive industrial systems. In summation, Schmitt’s five experiences propositions are widely applied in this study to develop the balance for measuring work-placement experiences on the students’ career decision making and behavioral intentions after graduation. The theory of experiential marketing was used to examine the influence of different internship experiences on career decision making of undergraduate hospitality students. The constructs that were used to measure both positive and negative internship experiences were based on the five types of experiences suggested in experiential marketing theory.

2.7 Summary of Reviewed Literature and Identified Gaps


have revealed that students make choices based on employment opportunities, individual financial backgrounds, support from the family and the sole desire to pursue a higher education, rather than specific and individual based career prospects.

While this is the case, other studies have revealed that students with internship experiences are likely to coin more effective career decisions than those without. Internship is expressed as having both positive and negative factors of experiences and influences to a large extent behavioral intentions of interns after completion of their work-placement program. Review of literature has revealed that students’ perceptions before internships were outsmarted by the industry reality.

The review of relevant literature and previous researches of career decision making in the hospitality and tourism industry have presented several gaps. First, despite of several career decision making studies undertaken focusing on tourism and hospitality employees in the industry, very few have been conducted within the context of hospitality undergraduate students. This is specifically so in Kenya and thus the need for carrying out the study.


Third, review of literature has revealed studies that have been conducted in developed countries where internships are probably well-structured. Thus, conducting a study in a Kenyan context is vital in order to compare the findings of these studies, and knowledge could inform the academia and the industry practitioners and enable them to create a more sustainable relationship. This would lead to development of more informative internship programs that would yield a more employable graduate.



In the former chapter, the review of relevant literature in line with the study objectives was discussed. In addition, the theoretical frameworks relevant in explaining the concept of career decision making were also introduced and elaborated. This chapter provides information and details about the methodology that was utilized to address the study objectives. It describes the research design, study area, target population, sampling techniques, sample size, instrumentation, validity and reliability, pre-testing, data collection procedures, analysis techniques, data presentation and ends with logistical and ethical considerations.

3.1 Research Design

A research design can be thought of as the structure of research (Kombo & Tromp, 2006), and according to Orodho (2003) it is a scheme that is used to generate answers to research problems. In addition, it can be thought of as the blueprint for the collection, measurement and analysis of data (Kothari, 2004) which enables the researcher to come up with solutions to problems and guides him in the various steps of research (Cooper & Schnindler, 2008; Nachmias & Nachmias, 1996).


affairs as it exists, and according to Mugenda and Mugenda (2008), a descriptive survey design reports the way things are.

This design was useful while establishing the determinants of career decision making, and determining the influence of internship experiences on the students’ career choices following graduation and to enable generalization of results (Kuter & Yilmaz, 2001). The use of descriptive survey design saves time, expenses and the amount of information generated is valid while the respondents’ bias is reduced because they complete identically worded self-reported measures without interference (Ader, Mellenbergh, & Hand, 2008).

3.2 Study Area

The study was conducted in Nairobi Metropolitan. The region extends over 32,000 square kilometers and comprise of the following local authorities grouped as follows:


Based on the figures published by the Ministry of Higher Education (2013), the region has eight (over 75%) of public and private universities accredited by the Commission for University Education [CUE] (2014) and offering hospitality management degree courses compared to other regions in Kenya, thus suited the current study.

3.3 Target Population

A population is defined as an entire group of individuals, cases or objects with some common observable characteristics (Mugenda & Mugenda, 2008). The target population for this study comprised of all hospitality undergraduate students in their fourth academic year. The sample was drawn from a sampling frame of eight universities (three public and five private) in Nairobi Metropolis that offered undergraduate hospitality program as of 2014 (CUE, 2014).


3.4 Sampling Techniques

Sampling refers to a process of selecting a number of individuals, cases or objects from a target population such that the selected group contains elements representative of the characteristics found in the entire group (Mugenda & Mugenda, 2008; Orodho & Kombo, 2002). While selecting individuals from the target population for inclusion in the sample, the study used purposeful, stratified and simple random sampling techniques.

Table 3.1. Target Population

CUE accredited Public and Private Universities in Nairobi Metropolitan

Total 4th year Hospitality Undergraduate Students Public Universities

1. Kenyatta University [KU] 90

2. Kenya Utalii College in collaboration with University of Nairobi


3. Technical University of Kenya [TUK] 14

Private Universities

1. Mt. Kenya University [MKU] 70

2. United States International University [USIU] 40

3. Strathmore University 50

4. Kenya Methodist University [KEMU] 25

5. GRETSA University 15


Purposive sampling is a technique that enables the researcher to use cases that have the required information with respect to the objectives of the study (Mugenda & Mugenda, 2008; Kombo & Tromp, 2010). The technique was used in two stages, (1) to select private and public universities offering hospitality degree course, and (2) to select undergraduate hospitality students in their fourth academic year. This allowed the selection of information rich cases for in-depth analysis related to the study problem statement under investigation (Kombo & Tromp, 2010).

Stratified sampling technique was used to divide the target population into two based on the type of the University – either public or private. Simple random sampling technique was utilized in selecting the required number of cases from the strata for inclusion in the sample. According to Mugenda and Mugenda (2008) the technique ensures that each participant has an equal chance of representation. Thus, it was used to randomly select student participants in class during the time of research for inclusion in the study sample.

3.5 Sample Size


Based on Gay and Deihl’s (1992) suggestions and given that the study used descriptive survey design; the sample size was arrived at using Fisher, Laing and Stoeckel (1983) formulae;


n = the desired sample size (if the target population is greater than 10,000). Z = the standard normal deviation at the required confidence level.

p = the proportion in target population estimated to have characteristics being measured.

q = 1-p.

d = the level of statistical significance set.

In the computation, Z = 1.96. p = 10% as suggested by Gay and Diehl (1992). q=1-p. N=344. d=5%

For N≥ 10,000

Thus, for N ≤ 10,000


98 student respondents. The 10% of the target population as suggested by Gay and Diehl (1992) was considered reasonable enough representation in the study since the population was homogenous with very little variation in the characteristics. Thus, the sample size arrived at was 98 undergraduate fourth year hospitality management. Mugenda and Mugenda (2008) 30% proportion was used to calculate the number of respondents that were selected from each university as shown in Table 3.2.

3.6 Data Collection Instruments

There are several methods which can be used to collect quantitative data and the choice entirely depends on the purpose of the study, nature of the study, research timeline and budget (Gray, 2004). Thus, a self-completed questionnaire was chosen as the most useful means of obtaining information from the participants because Table 3.2. Sample Size

Total No. of Students 30% Proportion Public Universities

1. Kenyatta University [KU] 90 27

2. Kenya Utalii College in

collaboration with University of Nairobi

20 6

3. Technical University of Kenya [TUK]

14 5

Private Universities

4. Mt. Kenya University [MKU] 70 21

5. United States International

University [USIU] 40 12

6. Strathmore University 50 15

7. Kenya Methodist University

[KEMU] 25 7

8. GRETSA University 15 5


they could be targeted in a cost-effective way (Mugenda & Mugenda, 2008). In addition, the questionnaire integrates objectivity in terms of analytical generalizations of data (Blumberg, Cooper, & Schindler, 2005; Salkind, 2003).

Further, the questionnaires could be distributed to a large number of respondents in one location, for example a classroom, which means that all participants completed them under the same conditions at their own speed. This means a higher response rate could be achieved. In the present study, this was the case. Mainly hospitality research uses quantitative survey instruments such as questionnaires (Lucas & Deery, 2004) and therefore fitted the objectives of this thesis.

In an effort to encourage participants to complete the questionnaire, both closed ended, open ended questions and scaling were used. While closed ended questions are useful because they are easy and quick to answer, easier to administer and allows analysis to take place more easily and efficiently (Brunt, 1997; Mugenda & Mugenda, 2008), open ended questions provided the participants with the freedom and depth of response. More closed ended questions were used to increase the response rate by minimizing the time required to completely fill the questionnaire.

3.7 Pretesting


they had the highest number of hospitality students in their fourth academic year. Participants for pretesting the questionnaires were randomly selected during class sessions and their names were recorded. While conducting actual data collection, the students whose names appeared in the pretest record were excluded from the exercise in order to eliminate bias.

According to Mugenda and Mugenda (2008) the number of cases in the pretest sample is normally between 1% and 10% depending on the sample size. Thus, twenty questionnaires (n=20) were distributed to undergraduate hospitality students in their fourth academic year for pretesting. The process was conducted to improve the instrument and to identify any unexpected errors. In addition, pretesting provided a chance to establish the time it took to complete the questionnaire (approximately 15 minutes for the present study), existence of amorphous questions and omission of significant questions and the opportunity to gather other comments which were appropriate for assessment. The subsequent commentaries were incorporated and the instrument consequently modified.

3.8 Validity and Reliability

This section discusses the validity and reliability of the questionnaire. It describes the techniques used to achieve both validity and reliability of the questionnaires in order to ensure that they collected information that is not only relevant to the research hypotheses, but also correct.

3.8.1 Validity


the study (Creswell, 2005; Mugenda & Mugenda, 2008). Content validity was applied to assess the internal validity of the questionnaire. This was ensured through the help of supervisors’ reviews and judgments to determine whether the set of items accurately represented the concept under study. In the present study, items in the questionnaire were measuring the intended phenomenon and therefore were valid.

3.8.2 Reliability

Reliability is the measure of the degree to which a research instrument yields consistent results after repeated trials (Mugenda & Mugenda, 2008). The internal consistency, which represents the reliability of the questionnaire, was examined using Cronbach’s alpha. A scale is internally consistent to the extent that the items are highly correlated with one another, and Cronbach’s alpha index can be used to examine the internal consistency of items (Havercamp, 2009).


Table 3.3. Cronbach Alpha Coefficients for Internal Reliability Constructs

Number of items measured

Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficients ()

Individual background factors 13 .775

Career outcome expectations 13 .759

Internship experiences:

Positive internship experiences 11 .788

Negative internship experiences 10 .898

Career decision making 6 .809

3.9 Data Collection Techniques

Data collection begun after validity and reliability of questionnaires had been ascertained and necessary corrections made. Prior to embarking on the formal data collection phase, permission was obtained from the respective Heads of Departments by Email and telephone specifically in the universities that were included in the sampling frame. Upon receiving the agreement, the questionnaires were administered directly to students with the help of lecturers and staff during class sessions. This allowed for a high response rate.

The surveys were conducted in-class from mid-July to early-August 2014. Cjaza and Blair (2005) have found that distributing a self-completed questionnaire to students in a classroom is a cost-effective and efficient technique especially when the lecturers allow the researcher to use their lecture time. Additionally, this type of a questionnaire allows respondents to answer conveniently without interruption (Bryman, 2001).


usable questionnaires which represented a response rate of approximately 97%. According to Mugenda and Mugenda (2003) a response rate of 50% is adequate for analysis and reporting, 60% is good and above 70% is very good. Thus, a response rate of 97% was very good and therefore adequate for data analysis and reporting. A plausible explanation to this high response rate was the reason that, before the questionnaires were distributed, the researcher explained the purpose of the study to the participants and requested them to read each question instructions carefully before responding.

3.10 Data Analysis

The process of data analysis started after ascertaining the validity and reliability of the questionnaires. Three important steps were conducted and included editing, coding and entering data into an analysis package as suggested by (Kent, 2001). Editing was done to evaluate the completeness and accuracy of the filled questionnaires. Each valid questionnaire was then coded and cases were entered into Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 20.0) for all subsequent analyses.


standard deviations were used to describe and express data based on the study objectives. Mean ranking was useful while interpreting the analysis outputs.

Multiple regression analysis was used to determine whether the factors (demographic factors (gender and age), individual background factors, career outcome expectations and internship experiences) together predicts the dependent variable (career decision making). This analysis yields a coefficient of determination denoted by R2 which demonstrates the percentage of variation in the dependent variable that is explained by the predictor variables. According to Eliott and Woodward (2007) multiple regression analysis can be used to establish the predictors of an outcome variable of interest as well as indicate the important ones. Thus, this technique was used to measure the determinants (predictors) of career decision making of hospitality undergraduate students and to address the proposed hypotheses based on objectives as demonstrated in Table 3.4. The overall hypothesized multiple regression model equation was:

CDM = α + ß1G + ß1A + ß2IBF + ß3COE + ß4PIE + ß5NIE

Where CMD = Career Decision Making, G = Gender, A = Age, IBF = Individual Background Factors, COE = Career Outcome Expectations, PIE = Positive Internship Experiences, NIE = Negative Internship Experiences, α = intercept term, and ß = regression coefficients based on the predictor variables.

Table 3.4. Summary of the Proposed Study Hypotheses Factor 1: Demographic

H01a: There is no relationship between gender and career decision making for hospitality undergraduate students.




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