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Hospitality workers in the U.S. and Singapore differ in their approaches to communication

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Using the theory of message design logic, Rachelle Ng found that individuals from different cultures approach communication differently. Ng analyzed survey data collected from 177 individuals employed in the hospitality and tourism industry (N = 96 United States, N = 81 Singapore). Rachelle is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. She completed her thesis, under my direction, last month. Included below are some of the key findings:

  1. Singaporeans are more likely to employ the rhetorical design logic than Americans. Singaporeans were more likely to use communication to invite collaboration in achieving goals.

  2. Americans are more likely to employ the expressive design logic than Singaporeans. Americans were more likely to use communication to express personal feelings.

  3. Singaporeans employed different communication strategies based on the situational context, such as when the power status of the message recipient differed. Hospitality and tourism workers in Singapore modified their message design logic when speaking to a subordinate versus speaking to a supervisor.

  4. Employees in the United States used the same approach to communication when speaking to a subordinate and a supervisor.

  5. Although participants from the two cultures differed in how they selected messages to communicate, they did not differ in how they perceived messages. Rhetorical messages were perceived as the most effective and appropriate across both groups. Individuals employing the rhetorical design logic were also the most liked.

The study is available here:

Source: Ng, R. (2017). Intercultural communication in the hospitality and tourism industry: A study of message design logic across two cultures [Electronic version].

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