Program Web Address



In their discussion - Professionalism and Ethics in Hospitality - by James R. Keiser, Associate Professor and John Swinton, Instructor, Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management, The Pennsylvania State University, Keiser and Swinton initially offer: “Referring to “the hospitality profession” necessitates thinking of the ethics of that profession and how ethics can be taught. The authors discuss what it means for the hospitality industry to be a profession.”

The authors will have you know, a cursory nod to the term or description, profession and/or professional, is awarded to the hospitality industry at large; at least in an academic sense.

Keiser and Swinton also want you to know that ethics, and professionalism are distinctly unique concepts, however, they are related. Their intangible nature does make them difficult, at best, to define, but ethics in contemporary hospitality has, to some degree, been charted and quantified.

“We have left the caveat emptor era, and the common law, the Uniform Commercial Code, and a variety of local ordinances now dictate that the goods and services hospitality offers carry an implied warranty of merchantability,” the authors inform you.

About the symbiotic relationship between ethics and professionalism, the authors say this: The less precise a code of ethics goes, the general rule, the fewer claims the group has to professional status.” The statement above may be considered a cornerstone principle.

“However, the mere existence of an ethical code (or of professional status, for that matter) does not ensure ethical behavior in any group,” caution Keiser and Swinton. “Codes of ethics do not really define professionalism except as they adopt a group's special, arcane, exclusionary jargon. Worse, they can define the minimum, agreed-upon standards of conduct and thereby encourage ethical corner-cutting,” they further qualify the thought.

And, in bridging academia, Keiser and Swinton say, “Equipped now with a sense of the ironies and ambiguities inherent in labeling any work "professional," we can turn to the problem of instilling in students a sense of what is professionally ethical. Students appear to welcome this kind of instruction, and while we would like to think their interest comes welling up from altruism and intellectual curiosity rather than drifting down as Watergate and malpractice fallout,

our job is to teach, not to weigh the motives that bring us our students, and to provide a climate conducive to ethical behavior, not supply a separate answer for every contingency.”

Keiser and Swinton illustrate their treatise on ethics via the hypothetical tale [stylized case study] of Cosmo Cuisiner, who manages the Phoenix, a large suburban restaurant. Cosmo is “…a typical restaurant manager faced with a series of stylized, over-simplified, but illustrative decisions, each with its own ethical skew for the students to analyze.” A shortened version of that case study is presented.

Figure 1 outlines the State Restaurant Association Code of Ethics.