Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Perceptions of Career Influences among Private University Academics: An Empirical Study in Malaysia

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Perceptions of Career Influences among Private University Academics: An Empirical Study in Malaysia

Article excerpt

This paper examines current trends in perceptions of career influences on private academic staff in Malaysia and reports on an empirical research to study the influences of selection, training, promotion, work and career development as well as family issues informing perceptions. Results on the analysis of data relating to 174 respondents indicate that there is a significant difference between the responses of males and females relating to recruitment policies and prospects provided by employers. Females indicate that recruitment policies are fair and find that academic prospects are rewarding primarily in non-financial terms. On the basis of ethnicity of respondents, it was found that there was agreement on gender being a non-issue in career influence. Further research directions are suggested.


An interest in human resource management practices in higher education is triggered by transformation of the higher education system. Private higher education providers in Malaysia receive no funding from government and are profit oriented businesses, operating in a very competitive environment. With an increasing number of students, managerial practices in the higher education have transformed as the higher education providers inculcates market orientation (Buchbinder, 1993). Institutions adopt aggressive promotional strategies to differentiate themselves and maximize student output and income generation (Winter, Taylor & Sarros, 2000). Challenges are also posed to academic staff with major transformation in the education system. As such, this study attempts to investigate staff motivation and commitment to make effective contribution towards organizational success.

While numerous studies have been carried out on career perceptions of individuals in different industries, no comprehensive research was carried out to examine the perceptions of career influences on academic staff in Malaysian private tertiary education.

Background Information

Recently, institutions of higher learning are characterized by student diversity, newer teaching technologies, changing public expectations, shifting emphasis towards the learner, expanding faculty work loads, and a new labor market for faculty (Austin, 2002). These characteristics indicate a major transformation in higher education (Rice 1998, and Schuster 1999).

The academic environment makes a significant impact on the academic staff performance and their perception to career, significantly with a changing approach to teaching and learning. Institutions of higher learning are increasingly being encouraged, mainly due to external influences, to strengthen undergraduate education by shifting from an emphasis on teaching to an emphasis on learning (Barr & Tagg, 1995). This change of focus on the teacher, rather than the learner, has lead to new expectations on how the faculty should enact their roles.

Another trend witnessed in the higher education system is the increasing diversity of students. Students are seemingly more diverse in their backgrounds, needs, motivations, and expectations (Keller, 2001; Syverson, 1996). Work requirements demand that staff have an appreciation and an appropriate approach for working with students of diverse ages, genders, ethnicities, capabilities, levels of interest and commitment.

A further challenge is posed to the academic staff with the advent of newer teaching technologies. With more academic institutions incorporating virtual education and flexible delivery modes into teaching, academic staffs are expected to use technologymediated teaching and learning strategies (Gilbert, 1996; Green, 1999; Levine, 2000). Even experienced teachers, are required to undergo training in delivery or learning using new technologies.

Changing societal expectations also shapes perceptions towards a career. Parents and students stir up questions on the quality of the education. Employers express anxiety over the skills and abilities of students entering the job market. …

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