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Title: Mixed methods action research : intervention strategies for employee turnover in ethnic Asian enterprises in New Zealand
Author: Kim, R. S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 2794
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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Excessive employee turnover can pose a threat to a firm’s growth and survival. This is particularly true for small ethnic Asian businesses that rely heavily on human labour input with cultural and language challenges. This paper sets out to develop effective intervening strategies for the high labour turnover found in ABC (pseudonym), a small ethnic Asian company in New Zealand that provides commercial cleaning and shopping trolley collections services. This study used a multistrand mixed method action research (MMAR) approach that leverages discussions, a survey and interviews for data collection in the cycle of action research (AR) proposed by Coghlan and Brannick: 'constructing' (Phase 1), 'planning action' (Phase 2), 'taking action' (Phase 3), and 'evaluating action' (Phase 4). This design helps cross-validate the gathered data and enhance the rigour and credibility of the research outcomes. In Phase 1, having identified excessively high employee turnover as the research problem, the subsequent literature review revealed three candidate intervening variables: leadership styles, job satisfaction and level of ethnic entrepreneurship (co-ethnic community involvement). In Phase 2, data were collected and analyzed using a mixed method to understand the impact of the intervening variables on turnover and identify the areas for improvement when applying the found-to-be effective variables in ABC. The quantitative data was collected from employees of ethnic Asian companies including ABC. The statistical analyses on 222 usable questionnaires suggested that two variables (leadership styles – supportive and participative, and job satisfaction) were found to be the strong predictors of employee withdrawal intention. Interestingly, it was not possible from the data to claim a moderating effect of ethnic entrepreneurship on the relationships between leadership and turnover propensity. The succeeding qualitative study gathered the data from twelve ABC employees via phone. The interview results were largely aligned with the quantitative findings. They confirmed the beneficial effect of supportive and participative leadership styles on job satisfaction, and highlighted the detrimental effect of the directive style. In phase 3, the meta-inferences gained from merging the outcomes of Phase 2 were validated in ABC’s context through the discussions with ABC executives. These yielded three feasible action plans with six strategies to tackle employee turnover under leadership styles and job satisfaction categories: taking leadership training, facilitating effective communication systems (changing the frequencies and mode of the communications), and providing non-monetary rewards (free snacks, job titles, and celebrating personal and work milestones). In phase 4, the suggested action plans are evaluated and consideration is given for future research. Overall, this MMAR study fulfilled its objective of producing context-specific outcomes to my real work context. At the same time, it has contributed to the body of knowledge by extending the Western and large organisation oriented turnover study, to the small ethnic Asian companies in New Zealand. However, the suggested strategies are not the final solutions to the problem, and measuring their effect remains a task for future research as the second cycle of action research (AR).
Supervisor: Nobanee, H. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral