Job engagement in the Vietnamese higher education sector

Pham, N 2018, Job engagement in the Vietnamese higher education sector, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Management, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Job engagement in the Vietnamese higher education sector
Author(s) Pham, N
Year 2018
Abstract Employees' job engagement is one of the key drivers of organisational success and competitive advantage. This thesis investigates the relationships between job engagement and demographics (i.e. gender, age, education, and tenure), transformational leadership, high-performance human resource practices (i.e. ability-enhancing, motivation-enhancing, and opportunity-enhancing human resource practices), climate for engagement, and job performance (i.e. task performance, organisational citizenship behaviour, and innovative work behaviour) among Vietnamese university academics and explores their views about effective leadership behaviours and human resource practices that can promote their job engagement. Building on Kahn's engagement theory and social exchange theory, the thesis develops a conceptual model and puts forward eight research questions. The first six research questions stimulate the construction of six hypotheses about the direct and indirect links between the related constructs. The remaining two research questions, later, are specified into two open questions concerning the views of Vietnamese university academics about effective leadership behaviours and HR practices in their workplace.

Due to the quantitative nature of the first six research questions and the qualitative nature of the remaining two research questions, the thesis adopts a mixed methods concurrent embedded design to capture the qualitative data within the predominant quantitative data in one data collection phase. A survey methodology and self-completion questionnaires incorporating both closed and open questions are utilised to realise this design. The main data collection phase took place from August to December 2016 at 125 schools and departments within 14 public and private universities in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. To diminish common method variance, the quantitative data for the predictor and criterion constructs were obtained from two different sources (i.e. university academics and their leaders) at two different points in time. At Time 1, academic staff were requested to fill in a questionnaire with 19 closed questions about their demographics, transformational leadership behaviour of their line managers or supervisors, high-performance HR practices in their universities, and their job engagement. At the end of this questionnaire, there were two open questions addressing their views about specific leadership behaviours and HR practices that could be effective in enhancing their job engagement. After two to three weeks, data were acquired from both academic staff and their leaders. At Time 2, academics who participated in the first survey were requested to fill in another questionnaire with 20 closed questions about their demographics, school climate for engagement, task performance, organisational citizenship behaviour, and innovative work behaviour. The line managers or supervisors were requested to fill in an independent questionnaire with 17 closed questions about their demographics and transformational leadership behaviour, their subordinates¿ task performance, organisational citizenship behaviour, and innovative work behaviour. Of the 416 distributed questionnaires, 402 follower questionnaires were returned at Time 1 (a response rate of 96.63%). Three hundred and ninety-nine follower and 396 leader questionnaires were returned at Time 2 (retention rates of 99.25% and 98.51% respectively). After the invalid responses were eliminated, the final study sample comprised 394 leader-follower dyads.

A combined data file was created by matching the quantitative responses regarding demographics, transformational leadership, high-performance human resource practices, job engagement, and climate for engagement given by Vietnamese university academics at two different time points, plus the quantitative responses regarding task performance, organisational citizenship behaviour, and innovative work behaviour given by their leaders. The qualitative answers expressing the views of Vietnamese academic staff about effective leadership behaviours and HR practices that could stimulate their job engagement were also included in this data file. Then, the quantitative data obtained from 394 cases were analysed via the two-stage modelling approach using Statistical Package for Social Science version 24 and Mplus version 8. The qualitative data obtained from 372 out of these 394 cases were interpreted via content analysis using NVivo version 11. The quantitative findings indicated that gender, age, job tenure, transformational leadership, ability-enhancing human resource practices, and opportunity-enhancing human resource practices were key drivers of employees' job engagement. A climate for engagement helped mediate the effects of transformational leadership and ability-enhancing human resource practices on employees' job engagement. Furthermore, employees' job engagement was positively and significantly related to their task performance and organisational citizenship behaviour. The credibility, illustration, and utility of the quantitative findings were increased as the qualitative findings demonstrated that the adoption of transformational leadership and high-performance HR practices could be an efficient means of cultivating Vietnamese university academics' job engagement.

Based on the above findings, this thesis makes original contributions in the areas of theory, methodology, and practice. In terms of theoretical contributions, the thesis is a rare study that integrates and examines the comprehensive relationships between job engagement and demographics, transformational leadership, high-performance human resource practices, climate for engagement, and job performance. It focuses on academic staff's job engagement, which, to date, has received scant attention in previous studies. It highlights the voices of Vietnamese academic staff about effective leadership behaviours and HR practices. It adds significant value to the job engagement literature by providing valuable and convincing evidence obtained from a developing higher education sector within a developing country such as Vietnam. In terms of methodological contributions, the thesis used mixed methods concurrent embedded design, complex techniques for controlling common method biases, and various advanced data analysis methods. The effectiveness of such methods and techniques helps produce beneficial evidence about mixed methods research on job engagement, responds to the suggestion of Bailey et al. (2017) for using multiple informants to acquire data on the outcomes of job engagement, and motivates future research to apply them, thereby improving the quality of findings. In terms of practical contributions, the thesis findings can assist Vietnamese universities and their school and department managers in promoting the engagement of academic staff in their jobs, which, in turn, will lead to an increase in their job performance.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Management
Subjects Education Systems not elsewhere classified
Business and Management not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Job engagement
Transformational leadership
High-performance human resource practices
Climate for engagement
Job performance
Vietnamese university academics
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Created: Wed, 27 Mar 2019, 12:10:36 EST by Adam Rivett
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