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Literature Review | Service vs. Hospitality in Research Administration

By SRAI News posted 02-09-2023 10:14 AM


Literature Review | Service vs. Hospitality in Research Administration

In Unreasonable Hospitality, Will Guidara explores his many years in the hospitality industry and how lessons learned can be applied in various business contexts. The author emphasizes that hospitality is caring for people in a way that makes them feel seen, heard, and welcomed. This is an increasingly important skill set for research administrators as they help researchers and institutions navigate the complexity of awards management and communicating research outcomes. 

Work in research administration is characterized by service – assisting in obtaining external funding, interpreting and applying contract terms and conditions, and facilitating relationships between the work of researchers and the mission and interests of sponsoring institutions. Research administrators provide customer service-oriented assistance and mitigate administration burdens so investigators can concentrate on research priorities and student mentorship. Guidara offers numerous key lessons on how service-related industries can elevate their work to become collaborative, successful environments that achieve overall institutional goals. 

Core Lessons from Unreasonable Hospitality

  1. “It’s a  dialogue, not a monologue.”
    Research administration is a collaborative effort among researchers, staff, and the sponsor. Collaborative work requires collaborative, interactive conversations. 
  2. “Enthusiasm and kindness are contagious.”
    The energy a research administrator brings to a team can have a significant impact on others. Kindness and a positive energy can be irresistible to others and help build trust on a team.
  3. “Balance control and creativity.”
    Research administration is often defined as helping researchers stay within the parameters of a grant application and post award spending and reporting. Compromises can occur between have-to guidelines and  can-do execution so administrators can deliver information with touches of creativity.  
  4. “Excellence is the culmination of thousands of details executed perfectly.”
    Large improvements can be delivered through multiple small changes. Guidara quotes Sir David Brailsford, a coach who improved the British cycling team, who states that if you break down what goes into riding a bike and improve each action by one percent, the aggregate gains are immense. The monumental task of assembling a proposal or a report can likely be improved by a collection of small changes. 
  5. “Hospitality isn’t transactional.”
    Research administrators are in a role where they can take steps to help others feel seen and appreciated for the creative and intellectual value they bring to their work and the institution. Interactions do not necessarily have to be transactional but can be a positive experience that recognizes individuals as critical members of a team. 

If you are interested in bringing color to administrative work often characterized as black-and-white with rules and guidelines, this book is for you. 

Authored by Hanna Bates, Research Administrator
Nanovaccine Institute, Iowa State University



1 comment



02-14-2023 09:14 AM

Super helpful, thank you!