Faculty of Education - Theses

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    The desired employer traits of prospective and early career business academic staff in Australia
    Abell, Daniel Thomas ( 2018)
    Attracting talent is an increasing concern for Australia’s universities, particularly given the ageing academic workforce, increase in student enrolments, and increased local and global competition. This research commences with the premise that location may play a crucial role in attraction, and that regional universities may face significant challenges in attracting talent. This may be especially the case for business schools that find themselves in a particularly competitive market. Using human resource management theory regarding organisational attraction, along with employer branding theory, this research investigates two key research questions: • What are the desired employer traits of prospective and early career business academics in Australia? • What can Australian regional universities do to enhance their attractiveness to prospective and early career business academics? Using an exploratory sequential mixed methods approach, within a pragmatic, realistic philosophy, utilising adaptive theory, and the researcher’s insider perspective, the findings of this research contributed to university employer branding theory by identifying nine key employer traits that universities need to pursue to enhance their employer brand for prospective and early career academic staff: • Job allows for work/life balance • Job allows for autonomy • Secure/permanent/tenured employment • Opportunity provided for career growth, promotion and professional development • Expert colleagues to learn from/work with • Culture that is friendly and positive where leaders behave like coaches/mentors • Performance / support / opportunity in research • Reputation / status / rank of my discipline / school / department For regional universities seeking to enhance their attractiveness, the desired employer traits are consistent, though respondent answers to the question of what would improve their attractiveness suggest that these organisations should endeavour to enhance the reputation/status/rank of the university, and consider the provision of higher salaries. The results are analysed for any variance in segmentations that would allow targeted employer branding, and discussed in context with other studies. Implications for practice are then discussed, with recommendations that regional university schools of business and law: • Develop and invest in a differentiated employer brand; • Examine the configuration of academic work; and • Endeavour to build a regional high-performance learning organisation. Ultimately, the thesis tells us that regional universities face significant challenges in the attraction of academic staff. The convergence of desired employer traits for attraction to both regional and other universities suggest that differentiation is necessary in order to be attractive. It contributes to the theoretical frameworks used by reinforcing the value of work/life balance; emphasising that academics desire autonomy and job security; providing evidence of the importance that academics place on investment in their career growth, promotion and professional development; highlighting that academics value learning from and working with expert colleagues; having the support and opportunity to undertake research; and the importance placed on the reputation, status and rank of their discipline, school or department. Opportunities for future research include a longitudinal analysis of the respondents to test for changes in the importance of employer traits over time working in the vocation, a study of attraction to universities for other disciplines and/or a study of attraction to regional universities for academics in other countries. It would also be valuable to further investigate employer branding within the Australian higher education context from the organisation’s perspective, through research with human resource management professionals and leaders across universities.