Leapfrogging to Empowerment and Inclusivity: A South African Hospitality and Tourism Business Perspective


South Africa, Leapfrogging, Empowerment, Visionary leadership, Atypical upward employment mobility, Constructivist grounded theory


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to illuminate an example of current practices and processes that enable transformation in the workplace in a South African multi-unit hospitality and tourism business, affording previously disadvantaged people the opportunity to advance in the organization and participate in the management and ownership of that organization. Design/methodology/approach A constructivist grounded theory methodological framework is used for the collection of data, analysis and theoretical development, utilizing Charmaz's (2006, 2011, 2014) approach in both the collection and analysis of data as well as the theoretical perspective that emerged from the research process. Intensive semi-structured recorded interviews were conducted with the owner and managers of the company. Following transcription of the interviews, multi-level data coding allowed the move from an inductive to an abductive process with theoretical sampling allowing the shift toward conceptual and theoretical development. Findings Study findings provide insight about the processes and practices that enabled previously disadvantaged people to move into management and ownership of a multi-unit South African hospitality and tourism business. Leapfrogging emerged as a theoretical perspective that provides interpretive understanding of atypical upward employment mobility, i.e. "human leapfrogging." Research limitations/implications While this study is limited to a single hospitality and tourism company in South Africa that is not necessarily typical of other South African businesses, it provides a vivid illustration of the impact that visionary leadership and a genuine desire to "level the playing field" can have on individuals, both personally and professionally, and their wider communities. Practical implications Leapfrogging theory in the context of "human leapfrogging" suggests innovative business practices for fast-tracking marginalized individuals out of poverty and provides an urgently needed theoretical perspective for this process. Originality/value To the authors' knowledge, the leapfrogging concept has not previously been applied in the context of atypical employment progression within the corporation, nor has its impact on the corporation and the lives of the affected individuals and their communities been examined.

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Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights






Rosen College of Hospitality Management

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