Title: The Impact of Employee Engagement with Their Work on Performance in Saudi Arabia: The Mediating Role of Psychological Capital

Abstract

The proposed doctoral project is delving into the relationship between employee engagement with their work and performance outcomes in the geographic context of Saudi Arabia. The relationship between engagement and performance has not been examined from the perspective of the psychological capital theory up to date. Thus, the proposed study will bridge a considerable theoretical gap and also contribute empirical data from an underexplored geographic setting. The research is to be conducted using the survey method. A nationally representative sample of Saudi employees is to be constructed by the stratified random sampling technique. 500 completed questionnaires measuring engagement and psychological capital are to be collected from this population, along with the performance data to be obtained from their managers. The data will be statistically analysed in SPSS software to test the research hypotheses. The planned time frame of the project is 3 years.

 

Table of Contents

 

  1. Background Information………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4

1.1. Summary of Existing Literature……………………………………………………………………………………. 4

1.2. The Saudi Context…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

  1. Hypotheses…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5
  2. Aim and Objectives…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 6
  3. Methodology………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6
  4. Timescale……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7
  5. Dissemination, Supervisory Provision and Skills…………………………………………………………………….. 7
  6. Research Ethics……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8
  7. Summary and Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8

References………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9

List of Figures

 

Figure 1: The Research Timescale………………………………………………………………………………………… 10

 

  1. Background Information

1.1. Summary of Existing Literature

Employee engagement is defined as the psychological state of being immersed in one’s work (Thompson et al., 2015, p.185). The construct of employee engagement in academic literature is rather vague and overly generalised, which poses a threat to its practical and academic utility (Anthony‐McMann et al., 2017, p.163). Most commonly, employee engagement is conceptualised within the framework of the resource theory (Xu et al., 2017, p.970). The alternative conceptual approaches include the psychological capital theory (Karatepe and Karadas, 2015, p.1254), corporate entrepreneurship theory (Kassa and Raju, 2015, p.148), leader-member exchange theory (Kim and Koo, 2017, p.3044) and organisational control theory (Smith and Bititci, 2017, p.1207). The research-supported outcomes of employee engagement include enhanced organisational commitment (Gupta, 2015, p.101), job performance (Xu et al., 2017, p.969), job satisfaction (Karatepe and Karadas, 2015, p.1254) and higher levels of physical and mental health (Shuck et al., 2017, p.165).

 

The psychological capital theory views engagement as a derivative of the employee’s psychological capital, which is a combination of self-efficacy, optimism, perseverance and resilience (Thompson et al., 2015, p.187). The positive impact of psychological capital on engagement is documented across a range of studies (Joo et al., 2016, p.1117; Paek et al., 2015, p.9; Xu et al., 2017, p.970), yet little is known about the ability of psychological capital to mediate the relationship between engagement and performance. To the researcher’s best knowledge, no study up to date has examined the mediating effect of psychological capital on the relationship between engagement and performance. From the viewpoint of the psychological capital theory, considerable differences may exist between individuals with high and low psychological capital in how they transform engagement into performance (Karatepe and Karadas, 2015, p.1254). Thus, the following major theoretical gap exists in the research literature:

 

The relationship between employee engagement and performance has not been examined through the lens of the psychological capital theory.

 

1.2. The Saudi Context

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a 32-million nation with a labour force of 13 million people (General Authority for Statistics, 2017a, p.1). About 56% of the Saudi workforce are non-nationals from a variety of backgrounds (General Authority for Statistics, 2017b, p.1). Improving employee performance in the public and private sector alike was set as a national human capital development goal in the Saudi Vision 2030 (KSA, 2017, p.37). However, workplace engagement is not mentioned anywhere in the document as a means to achieve higher performance. One possible reason behind this situation is that the up-to-date research data on employee engagement in the KSA context is extremely scarce. Out of the few studies investigating this topic, almost all were conducted in the healthcare industry, like Aboshaiqah’s et al. (2016, p.540) work that discovered the work engagement of nurses in Saudi hospitals to be close to the upper edge of Utrecht scale. Other studies in the Saudi setting have established resilience (Varshney and Varshney, 2017, p.36), job satisfaction (Al-Ahmadi, 2009, p.40; Varshney and Varshney, 2017, p.36) and organisational commitment (Al-Ahmadi, 2009, p.40) as the antecedents of high performance, but the contribution of employee engagement was not assessed. Nevertheless, positive effects of employee psychological capital and engagement on performance may be expected in the Saudi context similarly to what was established in other geographic settings.

 

  1. Hypotheses

From the literature review above, the following hypotheses were formulated to guide the proposed investigation:

 

HYPOTHESIS 1: Employee engagement will produce a positive impact on job performance in Saudi organisations.

 

HYPOTHESIS 2: The impact of employee engagement on performance will be positively mediated by psychological capital.

 

  1. Aim and Objectives

The research aim of the proposed PhD project is to examine the relationship between employee engagement and performance through the lens of the psychological capital theory. This aim is supported by the following objectives:

  1. To explain the relationship between employee engagement and performance from the perspective of the psychological capital theory.
  2. To evaluate the mediating effect of psychological capital on the relationship between employee engagement and performance in a nationally representative sample of Saudi employees.
  3. To evaluate the impact of employee engagement on performance in a nationally representative sample of Saudi employees.
  4. To provide recommendations on how Saudi organisations can elevate employee performance through engagement.

 

The way of constructing and accessing a nationally representative sample of Saudi employees is explained in more detail in the next section.

 

  1. Methodology

The valid and reliable data to assess the proposed hypotheses is to be collected from a nationally representative sample of Saudi employees. The data reliability will be ensured by the use of a stratified random sampling technique and a large sample size (500 individuals), which means that the findings will be generalizable to the whole Saudi population (Grove et al., 2014, p.19; Saunders et al., 2007, p.217). The data validity will be promoted by taking relevant measurements (of employee psychological capital, engagement and performance) from the most appropriate sources. The data on employee performance will be obtained from managers as they possess the knowledge of this aspect and are less likely to be biased than the employees themselves. The engagement and psychological capital levels of employees will be evaluated by providing them with appropriate inventories to complete. Thus, the main research method will be survey. The data will be analysed in SPSS using the statistical methods of regression and ANOVA.

 

  1. Timescale

The project is to be conducted over three years according to the timescale below.

Figure 1: The Research Timescale

Activity Time, Quarters
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1. Reviewing secondary sources                        
2. Writing the literature review chapter                        
3. Completing the questionnaire                        
4. Writing the methodology chapter                        
5. Constructing a nationally representative sample                        
6. Negotiating access and conducting the survey                        
7. Analysing the data                        
8. Writing the analysis and conclusions chapters                        
9. Checking, editing and submitting                        

 

 

  1. Dissemination, Supervisory Provision and Skills

The research will be communicated to the wider community through internal seminars and a conference presentation. The work is to be supervised by a PhD degree holder. The accomplishment of the project aim will be facilitated by the researcher’s previously obtained Master’s degree in Management and the research methods courses.

 

  1. Research Ethics

In order to ensure that a high standard of research ethics is maintained throughout the project work, an approval from the University’s research ethics committee will be obtained prior to collecting any data.

 

  1. Summary and Conclusions

The performance gains through employee engagement are well-documented, yet the mediating role of psychological capital has not been explored. The proposed project is intended to bridge this knowledge gap by examined the impact of employee engagement on performance in a nationally representative sample of Saudi workforce through the lens of the psychological capital theory. The results can benefit the research community by enhancing the knowledge of the role of psychological capital in promoting high performance.

 

 

References

Aboshaiqah, A. E., Hamadi, H. Y., Salem, O. A. and Zakari, N. M. A. (2016) “The work engagement of nurses in multiple hospital sectors in Saudi Arabia: a comparative study”, Journal of Nursing Management, 24 (4), pp. 540-548.

Al-Ahmadi, H. (2009) “Factors affecting performance of hospital nurses in Riyadh Region, Saudi Arabia”, International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 22 (1), pp. 40-54.

Anthony‐McMann, P. E., Ellinger, A. D., Astakhova, M. and Halbesleben, J. R. B. (2017) “Exploring different operationalizations of employee engagement and their relationships with workplace stress and burnout”, Human Resource Development Quarterly, 28 (2), pp. 163-195.

General Authority for Statistics (2017a) “Employment and wages survey”, [online] Available at: https://www.stats.gov.sa/en/924 [Accessed on 31 May 2018].

General Authority for Statistics (2017b) “Labour market: fourth quarter 2017”, [online] Available at: https://www.stats.gov.sa/en/5718 [Accessed on 31 May 2018].

Grove, S., Gray, J. and Burns, N. (2014) Understanding nursing research: building an evidence-based practice, Saint-Louis: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Gupta, M. (2015) “Corporate social responsibility, employee–company identification, and organizational commitment: mediation by employee engagement”, Current Psychology, 36 (1), pp. 101-109.

Joo, B.-K., Lim, D. H. and Kim, S. (2016) “Enhancing work engagement”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 37 (8), pp. 1117-1134.

Karatepe, O. M. and Karadas, G. (2015) “Do psychological capital and work engagement foster frontline employees’ satisfaction?”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 27 (6), pp. 1254-1278.

Kassa, A. G. and Raju, R. S. (2015) “Investigating the relationship between corporate entrepreneurship and employee engagement”, Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, 7 (2), pp. 148-167.

Kim, M.-S. and Koo, D.-W. (2017) “Linking LMX, engagement, innovative behavior, and job performance in hotel employees”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 29 (12), pp. 3044-3062.

KSA (2017) “Vision 2030”, [online] Available at: http://vision2030.gov.sa/sites/default/files/report/Saudi_Vision2030_EN_2017.pdf [Accessed on 31 May 2018].

Paek, S., Schuckert, M., Kim, T. T. and Lee, G. (2015) “Why is hospitality employees’ psychological capital important? The effects of psychological capital on work engagement and employee morale”, International Journal of Hospitality Management, 50 (1), pp. 9-26.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2007) Research methods for business students, 4th ed., London: Pearson Education.

Shuck, B., Alagaraja, M., Rose, K., Owen, J., Osam, K. and Bergman, M. (2017) “The health‐related upside of employee engagement: exploratory evidence and implications for theory and practice”, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 30 (3), pp. 165-178.

Smith, M. and Bititci, U. S. (2017) “Interplay between performance measurement and management, employee engagement and performance”, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 37 (9), pp. 1207-1228.

Thompson, K. R., Lemmon, G. and Walter, T. J. (2015) “Employee engagement and positive psychological capital”, Organisational Dynamics, 44 (3), pp. 185-195.

Varshney, D. and Varshney, N. K. (2017) “The effect of resilience on performance and job satisfaction among construction managers in Saudi Arabia”, Global Business and Organisational Excellence, 36 (5), pp. 36-45.

Xu, J., Liu, Y. and Chung, B. (2017) “Leader psychological capital and employee work engagement”, Leadership & Organisation Development Journal, 38 (7), pp. 969-985.

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