Economic production in hospitality and tourism industry: How do we compare to other services?

Amit Sharma, Victor Eduardo Da Motta, Jeong Gil Choi, Naomi S. Altman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


PurposeEconomic production analysis can provide critical perspectives on an industry’s performance. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the factor input intensity of hospitality and related industries, namely, accommodation, food service and amusement, gaming and recreation (AFAGR), compared to other service industries. Design/methodology/approachThis paper compared AFAGR with other industries categorized as services by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The NAICS code of up to four digits was used to collect data (US Census Bureau). FindingsResults of this paper confirm extant literature that food service is more labor-intensive than other service industries; however, this was not true of accommodation and AGR industries. Similarly, while food service industry was relatively less intermediate input intensive than other service industries, accommodation and AGR were not. There were no significant differences between hospitality and other service industries (AFAGR) in their capital intensity. Another important finding was that while accommodation had constant results to scale, AGR had increasing returns to scale and food service industry was found to have decreasing returns to scale. Research limitations/implicationsThis investigation only looked at the four-digit NAICS-coded industries. International differences could also be investigated in the future. Practical implicationsBased on theoretical arguments, high labor intensity together with low intermediate input in food service industry suggests that efficiencies could be gained in these businesses. This may also be evident by the decreasing returns to scale that this paper found for the food service industry. These comparisons could guide additional research about the causes, consequences and potential sources of improvement of efficiency of economic productivity in AFAGR. Managers in AFAGR would find it valuable to understand how they might be able to enhance economic output, particularly in the context of the role of labor. Furthermore, any changes in one economic input would have implications on other inputs and possibly on productivity. Social implicationsAny future recalibration of input intensity in hospitality industries could have both social and economic consequence. Originality/valueThis paper enhances our understanding of how hospitality industries use economic factors of production. Labor in AFAGR is viewed as a given. This study suggests that food service industry may need to reevaluate its labor productivity, the way it is measured and how it might affect efficiencies. Such understanding could better inform the sources and causes of economic efficiencies in AFAGR industries. Until now, this understanding has mostly been based on relatively scarce comparative systematic analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1050
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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