A sequential exploratory mixed methods evaluation of graduate training and development in the construction industry

Gilbert, G 2010, A sequential exploratory mixed methods evaluation of graduate training and development in the construction industry, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Health Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title A sequential exploratory mixed methods evaluation of graduate training and development in the construction industry
Author(s) Gilbert, G
Year 2010
Abstract The construction industry is labour intensive and characterised by features such as temporary project teams, a unique end product and is dominated by relatively few large construction organisations. Evidence from various sources suggests that large firms are more likely to implement formal graduate development programs (GDP) than small firms where the training is more likely to be ad hoc. This research set out to compare the outcomes of graduate development programs with informal training activities.

The thesis adopted a sequential exploratory mixed methods approach. The aim of Phase 1 was to identify what graduate training activities were implemented, and to define the intended outcomes of this training. The first phase collected qualitative data from construction organisations through semi-structured interviews. The second phase of the research asked the graduates what training they undertook and measured the presence of the intended outcome identified from Phase 1.

The results of Phase one showed very similar forms of training implemented by construction organisations. All organisations implemented external seminars and workshops. The most desirable outcomes of training were skill acquisition and improved retention of graduates within the organisation. The conclusion to Phase 1 discussed the measurement of skill acquisition and it was decided to retain this aspect of the research for future investigation. It was recommended that skill acquisition should be investigated as a separate study which would enable a control group and longitudinal data collection to be implemented.

Phase 2 of the research focussed on the relationship between training activities undertaken by graduates in construction organisations and their level of retention. A literature search identified the measurement of organisational commitment as a reliable indicator of intention to leave and therefore of retention. The three components model of commitment provided an instrument to measure commitment which has been accepted globally. The relationship between commitment and graduate development programs was found to be statistically insignificant, although a trend towards higher affective commitment was found amongst the sample that undertook a graduate development program. The research suggests that the trend is partially attributable to the relatively small sample and that a larger sample might find this relationship to be significant. As a result, the research hesitates to support the hypothesis that construction graduates participating in a GDP are more committed to their employer than construction graduates who are not participating in a GDP.

Of the individual training activities, job rotation was found to be significantly positively related to affective commitment across the whole sample. Where there was no graduate development program, multiple job interviews were found to have a statistically significant and negative association with continuance commitment.

The findings of the research suggest that the psychological contract has a significant role to play in early career commitment. The research recommends that construction organisations would benefit from conducting multiple job interviews prior to offering employment to a graduate, and that effective management of job rotation will lead to increased commitment. The potential benefits from these two activities include increased organisational commitment.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) Program evaluation
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Created: Thu, 14 Jul 2011, 14:41:01 EST by Guy Aron
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