Defining Hospitality: A Discussion of Pedagogical and Research Implications


hospitality, hospitality management, classification, hospitality research, pedagogy in hospitality


Hospitality is one of the oldest professions and is regarded as a powerful economic activity that touches many aspects of human life. On the other hand, hospitality is a relatively new academic discipline that has no consensus on its scope and exposure. This obvious absence of consensus on the scope of the hospitality field has been a limiting factor in advancing the discipline-specific research agenda and teaching practices that affect this field. In response to this lack of clarity in definition or understanding of the field of hospitality, this article discusses a variety of definitions for hospitality and presents how a variety of researchers have classified hospitality in earlier research. The author argues that the term hospitality is a broad term or a construct, consisting of a diverse group of industries. This situation creates substantial issues in terms of the external validity of empirical studies in the hospitality literature, and raises the question of whether unique and identifiable dimensions of hospitality exist that separates it as an independent field of study from the other social sciences. In fact, it is argued that the lack of definitional consensus on the term hospitality significantly impairs the pedagogical integrity, thus, affecting the ability to establish the epistemological roots of the new and emerging hospitality discipline. In the current study, a conceptual classification of the term hospitality is suggested, and research issues in assessment of the multidimensional nature of the hospitality construct are described.

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Original Citation

Ottenbacher, M., Harrington, R.J.,Parsa, H.G. (2009). Defining Hospitality: A Discussion of Pedagogical and Research Implications. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research. 38(3), 1-19.

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Source Title

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research






Rosen College of Hospitality Management


Rosen College of Hospitality Management

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