Year

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration

Department

Faculty of Business

Abstract

There is increasing recognition among organisations that investment in learning and development interventions is necessary for sustained organisational performance and excellence. Specifically, leadership development programs (LDPs) have seen a continued upward trend with both government and private sector continuing to invest in LDPs.

With the rapid economic development that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has witnessed in the past three decades, leadership effectiveness is becoming increasingly significant for steering organisational success. Further, the vision of the UAE Vice- President, Prime Minister and the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum places emphasis on hard work and continuous training to maintain the ability of the UAE to cope with changes locally and internationally. Accordingly, many organisations in the UAE, particularly Dubai government organisations, have begun to invest in leadership development. There is a serious concern about these investments in these programs because not all the knowledge and skills are transferred at workplace. Most studies argue that LDPs have applied the Kirkpatrick model in order to measure the outcome of their programs, but few studies have focussed on the various factors that impact on learning transfer. Thus, from a scholarly point of view, it is important to understand specific factors that might impinge on learning transfer. This present study aims to understand specific factors that might impinge on learning transfer in the context of Dubai government organisations. In addition, scholarly gaps are identified with regard to the constructs that can moderate the relationship between factors of ability, motivation and work environment that impact on transfer effort-performance expectations and performance-outcome expectations. This research specifically examines leadership styles and work environment factors.

The study applied a mixed method approach, which has exploratory/qualitative phases followed by a quantitative design with data collected through a questionnaire as a method of triangulation. The exploratory phase consisted of two phases: phase (1) included ten interviews with senior leaders from Dubai government organisations while phase (2) included ten interviews with training designers and key decision makers. The findings from phase (1) show that a transformational leadership style emerged as the most dominant style when senior leaders of Dubai Government Organisations were asked about their conceptualisation of leadership. The results of phase (2) point to the significance of different factors that impact on learning transfer, with work environment noted as one of the major factors.

Phase (1) and phase (2) qualitative data informed the quantitative approach used in phase (3) used to examine the moderating impact of leadership styles and the work environment on the relationship between factors of ability and motivation that impact on learning transfer and transfer effort-performance expectations and performanceoutcome expectations. The study in phase (3) used survey responses collected from 201 employees who had attended leadership development programs during the period 2012– 2016. Nvivo 10 software was used to analyse the qualitative data while Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyse the quantitative data.

This research makes an important contribution of an applied nature to the field of Business Administration with a focus on leadership development programs. Specifically, this research provides a unique and significant contextual contribution highlighting factors of ability, motivation and work environment that impact on learning transfer in LDPs within Dubai government organisations. What is also unique about the current study is that it is among the first to examine the moderating impact of leadership styles and work environment on the relationship between factors of ability and motivation that impact on learning transfer and transfer effort-performance expectations and performance-outcome expectations. In addition, no studies have yet examined multilevel factors that influence learning transfer in the context of the Dubai government organisations. This present study is the first to establish a direct relationship between ability, motivation and work environment factors and their impact on learning transfer measured as transfer effort-performance expectations and performance-outcome expectations. The findings of this study are important because it provides an impetus for organisations to give a thought to the factors influencing learning transfer that can play an important role in influencing the extent to which they feel motivated to transfer the skills and knowledge gained through LDPs.

The current research found that a supportive work environment could strengthen the ability and motivation of trainees to transfer the skill and knowledge learned at a workplace when the work environment was examined as a moderating factor. This further strengthens the need to provide an enabling work environment in order to reap the benefits of learning and development interventions such as LDPs. In addition, the empirical investigation from this research confirms the influnce of leadership styles on the relationship between factors of ability and motivation that impact on learning transfer and transfer effort-performance expectations and performance-outcome expectations. No previous studies have measured this relationship. This present study provides evidence that while transformational leadership styles do not have a moderating influence; transactional leadership styles weaken the relationship. This implies that even with the necessary ability and motivation and enabling work environment factors, a transactional leader can have a negative impact on the transfer effort-performance expectations and performance-outcome expectations. This is a significant finding pointing to the need for more studies to examine how different leadership styles affect the self and others.

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