Monash University

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Competence Utilisation Among Foreign-Trained Faculty Members in Saudi Public Universities

posted on 2016-12-05, 01:21 authored by Mohammed Ali Alzubaidi
The foreign scholarships awarded by Saudi public universities to their trainee academics are intended to provide substantial learning and capacity development opportunities for future faculty members, through education and training at well-established higher education institutions throughout the world. At the same time, such overseas study is intended to provide sponsoring universities with highly qualified domestic faculty members, who can help meet staffing needs and strengthen human and institutional capabilities. However, this investment can be successful for faculty members and universities alike only if faculty members are effectively utilised by their universities after they return from overseas, and given the opportunity to apply their acquired skills, knowledge, and experiences.
   The purpose of this study was to examine the important but largely ignored issue of competence utilisation among foreign-trained faculty members in Saudi public universities. First, the study explored and assessed how the education, skills, abilities, and experiences of foreign-trained faculty members are fully and desirably utilised through the requirements and challenges of their work. Second, the study examined how patterns of competence utilisation systematically influence important job attitudes and outcomes. Third, the study explored the factors that influence competence utilisation among foreign-trained faculty members.
   This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted using a concurrent mixed methods design. This design involved collecting both quantitative and qualitative data at approximately the same time, analysing data separately, and then interpreting the results to form the basis for the study discussion and conclusion. Quantitative data were collected, through a survey instrument, from a sample of 586 of foreign-trained faculty members in three major universities. Qualitative data were collected from semi-structured interviews with 21 foreign-trained faculty members who were drawn from one selected university.
   The findings of the study generally suggested that competence underutilisation might be a pervasive problem that has negative ramifications for foreign-trained faculty members and Saudi universities. Specifically, the quantitative results revealed that a substantial portion of foreign-trained faculty members in this study were not fully and adequately utilised by their universities. Expanding on the quantitative results, the qualitative findings provided more insights into how foreign-trained faculty members interpreted and evaluated the current realities of their competence utilisation. The perceptions of most interview participants indicated that their jobs failed to provide them with the opportunities they desired, and maybe felt they deserved, to fully utilise their acquired skills and qualifications, leading to a perceived deficit in the way they were utilised.
   Additionally, competence utilisation was found to be significantly positively related to job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and job performance, and significantly negatively related to turnover intentions, even after controlling for demographic variables. Moreover, analysis of the qualitative data revealed several key factors that have the potential to influence competence utilisation among foreign-trained faculty members, including facilities, resources, and infrastructure; clarity of work duties, tasks, and procedures; knowledge about available abilities and talents; bureaucracy; workload; regulations and policies; opportunities for developing existing skills and learning additional skills; work ethics, values, and customs; monitoring and evaluation; career path planning and competence management; and individual’s desire, motivation, and determination. The findings of the study have important implications for policy and practice on competence utilisation.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Paddy O'Toole

Additional supervisor 1

Neil Selwyn

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education