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The influence of human resource management practices on organisational and national turnover intentions: A study of Pakistani university academics

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posted on 22.02.2022, 00:10 by Farzana Safi
Academic staff are the lifeline of the higher education sector and they are the professionals who contribute to a country’s economic development and sustainable competitive advantage. The turnover of academic talent is extremely costly to organisations and knowledge-based emerging economies. Pakistan’s higher education sector is facing the serious problem of losing academic staff due to organisational turnover; the loss of this talent is due to academics wanting to leave Pakistan for better and more secure opportunities. This study examines how human resource management practices influence academic staff turnover intention in some Pakistani universities. In so doing, this study extends the existing turnover intention models (Fabi, Lacoursiere & Raymond, 2015; Ojwang, 2019) from the organisational to the country level. Current research on commitment (Brain, Phyllis & George, 2014; Jackman, 2015; Yousaf, Sanders & Abbas, 2015; Yousaf, Sanders & Yustantio, 2018) seeks to understand different kinds of turnover intention, yet they ignore the role of national commitment and national turnover intention. Turnover intentions refer to employees’ decisions to voluntarily leave their workplace. Turnover intention is the strongest determinant of actual turnover. To date, no systematic study has investigated academic staff members’ intention to leave their institutions and their home country simultaneously, although the need for investigating such an intersection has been recognised (Brewer & Kovner, 2014). Studies on turnover intention occurring at universities in developing countries and especially Pakistan are rare. Pakistan is an under-researched country in terms of human resource management practices and particularly in its higher education industry. Therefore, the research question of the study is: what role do the strategic human resource management practices play in both organisational turnover intention and national turnover intention among academic staff in Pakistani universities? Drawing on two different streams of literature, these being international migration and brain drain on one hand, and human resource management, organisational behaviour, and turnover on the other, this study has drawn its foundations from Resource-Based View, Human Capital Theory and Social Exchange Theory. With the cross-disciplinary approach, this study investigates two aspects of turnover intention: organisational and national turnover intention. The study strives to measure six constructs in its theoretical model. At the organisational level, the model devised for this research identifies and tests four work-related variables, such as job satisfaction, organisational commitment, strategic human resource management practices, and organisational turnover intention. At the national level, however, the newly developed non-work variables of national commitment and national turnover intention are tested in addition to strategic human resource management practices and job satisfaction. This study adopts a cross-sectional quantitative research design. Overall, ten hypothesised relationships between organisational and national level variables were examined by using the Structural Equation Modeling technique in the context of two highly ranked universities of Pakistan. The survey included both closed and open-ended questions, wherein the majority were standardised questions. Simple random sampling technique was used to arrive at 246 usable cases. Results revealed statistically significant relationships between the study variables. Human resource management practices in Pakistan’s universities are significantly and positively related with organisational and national turnover intention. However, academic job satisfaction wields a significant negative effect on both types of turnover intention. Organisational commitment is negatively related to organisational turnover intention and positively related to national commitment. National commitment is negatively related to national turnover intention. Organisational turnover intention is significantly and positively related to national turnover intention. Combining two aspects of turnover intentions in this thesis made important contributions to the two different streams of knowledge and literature. With the cross-disciplinary approach of this study, the theoretical contributions include: i) extending the Social Exchange Theory from organisational to national orientation of turnover and finding that job satisfaction and national commitment are reciprocated by the lack of individual inclination to national turnover; ii) validating the role of human capital theory whereby strategic human resource management practices generate both organisational and national turnover intentions; iii) extension of the turnover intention model from organisational to national orientation by testing and validating the concept of national turnover intention and its contribution to international migration and organisational behaviour literature; iv) application of the human capital and social exchange theories to explain the role of work-attitudes (job satisfaction and organisational commitment) and non-work attitudes (national commitment) in affecting behavioural intentions (organisational and national turnover intention) in the higher education sector; and v) offering national commitment as a precursor of potential national talent loss. The practice-related contributions include: firstly, the nature of the workplace environment must be improved; secondly, talent development practices, including motivational aspects need to be strategically planned and implemented; and thirdly, organisational talent management mindset with an objective system of identification and compensation need to be thoroughly developed. This study makes practical recommendations for the Higher Education Commission, human resource management practitioners, organisational administration, and governing bodies to reduce turnover intention by Pakistan’s academic talent.



Central Queensland University

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Dr Parves Sultan ; Dr Md Abu Saleh ; Dr Quamrul Alam

Thesis Type

Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format