Are people the greatest asset: talent management in SME hotels in Nigeria during the COVID-19 crisis

Liza Howe-Walsh*, Susan Kirk, Emeka Oruh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: This paper evaluates approaches to Talent Management (TM) in small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) hotels in Nigeria during the COVID-19 crisis drawing on the Resource-Based View (RBV) of Strategy.

Design/methodology/approach: An interpretivist methodology was adopted, and 42 semi-structured interviews were undertaken with SME hotel owners, self-initiated expatriate (SIE) talent and local workers in Nigerian hotels. A thematic approach to analysis was undertaken to identify key themes.

Findings: The findings highlight how SME hotel owners’ reactive and short-term approaches to TM have created problems during the pandemic as they are unable to rely on acquiring SIE talent to fill key skills gaps. Furthermore, failure to capitalise on the expertise and networks of their current SIEs has resulted in a lack of knowledge sharing with other local employees. This results in TM strategies that do not offer differentiated approaches that balance talent flows to
achieve competitive advantage.

Implications: SME hotel leaders should adopt a more equitable approach to TM that values all workers rather than exclusively focusing on SIEs. Employment contracts should ensure that SIEs are responsible for training and developing local workers as part of a networking approach to RBV.

Originality: This novel study focused on TM within SME hotels in a Nigerian context during COVID-19. The findings show how SME senior leaders value SIE talent above local workers and pursue a TM strategy that perpetuates the status quo. The COVID-19 crisis has acted as a catalyst for leaders to recognise the value of local talent and consider a more sustainable approach to TM.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Early online date10 Nov 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 10 Nov 2022


  • Talent Management
  • RBV
  • SME hotels
  • COVID-19
  • Nigeria


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