Companies that engage in shared value (SV) creation pursue business and social goals related to the economies and societal conditions in the communities where they operate. Incorporating shared value into operating practices allows firms to innovate, launch new products, and expand into new markets. The SV concept redefines the meaning of productivity. The companies in the hospitality industry can create SV for stakeholders through improved relationships (Camilleri, 2015). However, social and business outcomes may differ for stakeholders, creating dilemmas instead of solutions (Crane et al., 2014). This paper looks at the SV practices by Marriott International (MI); it describes SV practices and concludes by critiquing the SV approach by MI as contributing to successful business and social outcomes.
While numerous hotel chains have limited practices and policies for creating SV, MI has implemented SV practices in the areas of employment, human rights, environment, supply chain, and conduct (Gardetti &Torres, 2017, n.p.). Customers, employees, local communities and shareholders are beneficiaries (Gardetti &Torres, 2017). The hotel’s value-creating practices include capacity building for nature conservation in local communities, education and training, and investments in infrastructure development. These practices partly follow the agenda of World Travel and Tourism Council. Additionally, MI cooperates with organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, 2017). Thus, in Thailand, MI utilized own resources to improve the conditions for conservation at resort sites. The hotel’s employees and customers were engaged in the solutions to environmental concerns (IUCN, 2017). In the perspective of hotel management, the SV engagement creates resiliency and therefore improves competitive advantage (IUCN, 2017). Moreover, these SV practices contribute to raising awareness about environmental issues and build dialogue (Camilleri, 2015), The engagement in SV further brings social and environmental value to the level of strategy (Crane et al., 2014).
MI actively invests in vocational training and education programs that build value for local communities. In 2017, MI implemented a youth empowerment program in Thailand. The program comprises practical trainings at 400 vocational schools, where school-aged children can complete certified education at the Marriott Pre-Vocational Hospitality School (Marriott Stories, 2017). The company covers the costs of education, learning materials, and salaries (Marriott Stories, 2017). The SV practice consists in an innovative approach that improves local conditions and human resources (Camilleri, 2015). Furthermore, the practice ensures value for customers as the hotel’s spa products are produced with the lemongrass harvested on the Thai farms (Marriott Stories, 2017).
MI created SV for numerous stakeholders, and the value-creating process involved building relationships with the stakeholders in local communities that impact the operational strategy (Camilleri, 2015). The practices by MI further redefined productivity, mainly successful social outcomes like relationships with local communities are now linked to business outcomes.
With the implemented practices in nature conservation and pre-vocational training in Thailand, MI achieved business and social objectives that mattered for continued operations.
The applied SV’s outcomes include overcoming constrains to competitive operations, mainly the lack of conservation at resort sites. Also, the outcomes include an increase in social and economic value; adopting innovative approaches to solving issues while expanding markets and enhancing products; and building awareness about how social issues can be resolved with corporate initiatives (Camilleri, 2015). These SV outcomes are an improvement on mass-produced products such as resorts that ignore the perspectives of stakeholders. However, the tensions between social and economic goals are possible, for example Thai communities may prefer different solutions to environmental and social issues. Still, the partnerships by MI did not produce dilemmas and the interests of stakeholders and the corporation were discussed before implementing SV practices (Crane et al., 2014; Marriott Stories, 2017). For instance, the value of the destinations provided to customers increased because of the investments in nature conservation and training people in local communities. In sum, MI successfully created shared value for the corporation and its stakeholders like customers, employees and local community, ensuring beneficial outcomes for the corporation and society.