Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business


Leaders internationally are facing growing calls to tackle global challenges, among the more critical of which are climate change, poverty, depletion of natural resources, water pollution, and privacy concerns. As one of the main users of natural resources and contributors to global environmental pollution, the hotel industry is facing increasing pressure to achieve sustainability objectives. It is imperative to achieve sustainability through ethical means. The influence of individual and organisational factors on ethical decision-making is well represented in the literature. However, there is lack of a clear understanding of the influence of issue-related factors such as moral intensity on ethical decision-making. Further, existing studies on moral intensity do not sufficiently explain the role of moral intensity in sustainability issues. Sustainability studies have also been conducted primarily in western countries and furthermore. Studies outside the hotel sector dominate the sustainability literature. Thus the role of moral intensity on sustainability issues among hoteliers remains unclear. This study examines the influence of moral intensity related to sustainability issues on the ethical decision-making of senior hotel executives.

This thesis employs a qualitative approach. Data were collected through 23 in-depth interviews with influential Sri Lankan hoteliers. Because Sri Lanka was the top-ranked tourist destination in the world in 2019, its hotel industry was an appropriate choice for addressing the research aims of the study. The interview data were triangulated using media articles, websites, policy documents and social media. The interview data were analysed using the thematic analysis process. There are several key findings from this study. First, this study proposes a new type of sustainability, ―guest sustainability‖, which refers to the ability of a hotel to sustain its customer base in the long run by attracting customers to the sustainability activities of the hotel without interfering with guest comfort. This concept can be considered as a guiding principle for shaping possible sustainability activities in individual hotels. Second, this study finds that four moral intensity dimensions are present in sustainability decision-making in the Sri Lankan hotel industry: magnitude of consequences, social consensus, proximity, and temporal immediacy. Third, the findings show relationships of these four moral intensity dimensions with the five types of sustainability: economic, social, environmental, ethical, and governance. The study findings show how different moral intensity dimensions could influence hoteliers‘ decision-making on issues relating to different sustainability types. This study is one of the first to examine the influence of moral intensity related to sustainability issues on the ethical decision-making of senior hotel executives.

FoR codes (2008)


This thesis is unavailable until Thursday, February 20, 2025



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.