By Dr. Gary L. Deel, Ph.D., J.D.
Faculty Director, School of Business
This is the fifth article in a 12-part series, adapted from my dissertation work at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, on the discord between academe and industry over the role of hospitality education and the purpose it serves in career development for hospitality professionals.
In the previous part, we discussed the criticism of higher education hospitality management programs as too esoteric to be relevant or useful to industry professionals. In this part, we’ll look at the argument that hospitality education should be focusing on emotional intelligence instead of intellectualism.
Industry Professionals Argue that Hospitality Graduates Have the Wrong Kind of Intelligence for the Industry
Industry professionals are happy to concede that hospitality education programs produce intelligent graduates. However, they argue that unfortunately these graduates have the wrong kind of intelligence for the industry.
Traditional notions of intelligence are more or less monopolized by the idea of IQ, or intelligence quotient. This concept was originated by German psychologist William Stern as a means of quantifying human intelligence. Based on Stern’s principles, the tests for measuring IQ are analytical in nature, and involve the evaluation of how quickly a subject can interpret factual information (e.g. numbers) and draw conclusions to solve problems.
IQ was widely embraced within the scientific community and has been incorporated into studies involving mortality, social status, mental illness, and other areas. It is still used today by some entities as a means of measuring candidate potential for jobs. However, many business professionals believe that IQ is the wrong metric for measuring the potential of job candidates, because it entirely ignores the aspects of emotions and feelings and the importance of empathy.
Social and Emotional Intelligence
Social intelligence is a relatively new concept. It has been defined as the ability to possess (a) social awareness, or what we sense about others, and (b) social facility, or what we do with that information.
We exhibit our social intelligence when we receive signals from others, accurately decode this information and then use it to interact effectively with the signal senders. Social intelligence skills are distinguished from interpersonal intelligence and practical intelligence in that social intelligence entails a mastery of the social skills necessary to manage personal relationships effectively.
Some researchers have categorized emotional intelligence as a type of social intelligence. It has been defined as “the set of abilities enabling a person to generate, recognize, express, understand, and evaluate their own and others’ emotions in order to guide thinking and action to successfully cope with environmental demands and pressures.” It has been more generally summarized as a set of abilities whereby a person understands, regulates, uses, and manages his or her emotions.
Hospitality Professionals Say that the Empathy Quotient Is More Important in the Industry
The idea of emotional intelligence as a metric that can vary from person to person gave rise to EQ, or empathy quotient.
But many researchers argue that it is fallacious to think of intelligence and emotions as two separate and distinct phenomena. Instead, they insist that the two should be viewed as co-existent dimensions of the same consciousness. Human beings are viewed as unitary possessors of experiences; our intelligence and emotions are products of those experiences in the same fashion.
However, some argue that it is EQ, rather than IQ, which is more important to this unique industry. That is because human interactions are so important to the success of hospitality businesses. In the next part of this series, we’ll look at how and why this belief exists.