INFLUENCE OF INTANGIBLE ASSETS ON EMPLOYEE COMPETENCY: PERSPECTIVES OF STAFF IN FOUR AND FIVE STAR RATED HOTELS IN NAIROBI COUNTY, KENYA
APPIDA, FELIX ONYANGO
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Competition in the hospitality industry continues to be a major challenge globally prompting managers to explore new tactics to remain competitive. Kenyan hotels are not left out in this strategic transformation. This has seen hotel managers focus more on competitive strengths that ensure overall customer satisfaction without being imitated/copied by their competitors. Consequently, focus is increasingly shifting towards intangible assets in achieving this objective. Moreover, hotels are beginning to appreciate the competitive strengths that emanate from competent staff. Many studies have been conducted that are in support of the positive relationship between intangible assets and the general success of organizations. Despite the relevance of this concept, however, there are limited studies if any that focus on establishing specifically how intangible assets influence the competency of employees in Kenyan hotels. The main objective of this study was to assess the influence of intangible assets on employees’ competency in four and five-star rated hotels in Nairobi County. Specific objectives included finding out the influence of human capital on employees’ competency in four and five star rated hotels in Nairobi County; finding out the influence of relational capital on employees’ competency in four and five star rated hotels in Nairobi County, and establishing the influence of structural capital on employees’ competency in four and five star rated hotels in Nairobi County. The target population for this study constituted all four and five-star rated hotels in Nairobi County. The study used a descriptive survey design where both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies were used to gather and analyze data. The target population was staff working in all the thirty (30) hotels in the category of four and five stars. A representative sample of staff was selected using stratified sampling while the specific respondents were selected using systematic random sampling and purposive sampling techniques. Data was collected through questionnaires and interview guides for human resource managers. The collected data was cleaned, coded, and entered into Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The analysis was done quantitatively and qualitatively using descriptive analysis and inferential statistics. Specifically, multiple regression analysis was used. The study found statistically predictive estimates of the three dimensions of intangible assets on hotel employees’ competency i.e. human capital (B = 0.430, t = 3.180, p < .001), structural capital (B = 0.141, t = 3.041, p < .001) and relational capital (B = 0.095, t = 2.133, p< .05). In addition, the study revealed statistically significant moderation effect of level of education on the relationships of all aspects of intangible assets on employee competency i.e. human capital [p = .0411(13.4%)], structural capital [p = .0208(14.1%)] and for relational capital [p = .0231(12.2%)]. The research findings indicated that, in the presence of intangible assets, the level of employee competency increased at higher levels of education. The study recommended that all aspects of intangible assets are considered in management of hotels. In addition, employers in the hotel industry should consider the level of education during recruitment since it has a significant influence on employee competency at various levels. Moreover, the hotel managers should strive to give equal employement opportunities to all staff since according to the study results, age and gender do not have a significant influence on employee competence.