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Understanding the relationship between HR practices and organizational commitment and job satisfaction of the members of Saudi Arabian universities

Mirah, Doaa Hassan (2017) Understanding the relationship between HR practices and organizational commitment and job satisfaction of the members of Saudi Arabian universities. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The overall aim of this thesis is to examine HR practices within university settings in Saudi Arabia and the extent to which these HR practices as perceived by staff are associated with employees (academics) level of job satisfaction and their commitment to their universities. In addition, consideration was given to the potential influences of demographic variables and country or cultural context. The author contends that Saudi Arabia like other middle eastern countries possess distinctive characteristics in terms of culture, tradition and other factors relative to western countries and notably models of human resource practice tend to be dominated by Western HR systems. Furthermore, there appears to be a dearth of relevant literature in the Saudi country context or its GCC neighbours in relation to this study’s aim and objectives. This study relies on the use of the mixed methods approach, i.e. quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews), with sample sizes of 534 academics and 22 (both academics, HR personnel/management participants), respectively. Furthermore, cultural aspects such as Saudisation and demographics were also addressed in the interview phase. Quantitative analyses utilised Multiple Linear Regression Analyses and Thematic Analysis for qualitative. Overall, the quantitative research showed that there is a poor perception of HR practices in Saudi universities but good levels of faculty’s job satisfaction and organisational commitment to their universities. Regression analyses showed generally there is no association between perceived HR practices and job satisfaction and organisational commitment while the association was found between organisational commitment and job satisfaction. The surprising lack of association of Perceived HR practices with organisational commitment and job satisfaction, contrary to the academic literature, led the researcher to develop a second stage to investigate the potential influence of other factors such as contextual or cultural influences. Generally, qualitative data of both groups revealed there is generally a lack of knowledge and awareness of HR practices. Specifically, there is poor HR planning, ineffective attraction, retention strategies. However, they demonstrated mixed views in terms of HR development, which focused primarily on training courses. Both groups’ perspectives indicated there are high levels of organisational commitment and job satisfaction within the universities. With respect to culture, it was emphasised by all participants that “Wasta” or “personal connections” are prevalent. However, it is a problematic issue that should have no place in any university and advocated employees be selected on skills alone. Furthermore, while the concept of Saudisation was welcomed, many believed that it should not be at the expense of high quality staff and advocated the need for diverse faculty in academia. In fact, the findings point to various challenges facing HR practices and how they are perceived in Saudi universities, and hence these should be addressed with the aim of improving job satisfaction and organisational commitment amongst faculty staff members. A key empirical contribution of this thesis is the expansion of academic research in the field of strategic HR management (SHRM) in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in general and in higher education in specific. Furthermore, this study provides an original research and a new insight into how HR practices are perceived. The findings may provide guidance on practical implications for universities as well as decision- and policymakers, but it also contributes to developing the theoretical and applied approach in relation to perceived HR practices. Moreover, the theoretical contribution is reflected through the identification of perceptions around HR practices within the context of organisational commitment and job satisfaction. It is important to understand that cultural aspects were considered, while the overall research approach should be more comprehensive in the future.

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