Transformational Leadership and Enhanced Employee Engagement: Relationship, Roles, Accreditation, and Capacity Building Implications

Harriss, FL ORCID: 0000-0001-9195-9548
(2017) Transformational Leadership and Enhanced Employee Engagement: Relationship, Roles, Accreditation, and Capacity Building Implications. Doctor of Education thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Rising quality assurance standards and levels of accountability in higher education have placed stress on my organization, a two-year community college located in Micronesia, a sub-region of Oceania, in the western Pacific Ocean, which has historically maintained a culture of reactivity to accreditation sanctions. As quality standards increase in rigor and accountability, the demands on employee engagement become ever greater. Today, accreditation requires every employee be engaged in cycles of sustainable continuous quality improvement, assessment of student learning, purposeful dialogue, and institutional effectiveness. US regional accreditation is vital to maintain fiscal integrity of the organization. If terminated, students lose access to Pell Grant, a US Department of Education Title IV funding initiative for low-income students in undergraduate programs of study. Pell Grant is the organization’s single most important revenue source, captured from students through tuition and fees. Because revenue sources are not diversified, loss of US regional accreditation, and subsequent loss of Pell Grant, would thus negatively impact organizational stability. This study examined transformational leadership as a potential means for enhancing employee engagement, thereby increasing organizational potential for responding to evolving accreditation standards. This mixed methods study explored the relationship between perceived transformational leadership and follower work engagement within my organization, described how leaders enhanced follower engagement, and investigated to what extent and in what ways the background, training, development, and experiences of organization leaders contributed to leadership skills and their ability to enhance follower engagement. A sequential mixed methods design was employed for which first quantitative data, and then qualitative data, were collected and analyzed. Quantitative data were used on a Micronesian higher education context to test transformational leadership theory that predicts transformational leadership is positively correlated with employee engagement, using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ). Quantitative follower engagement data were collected using the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES). Qualitative data from semi-structured interviews were then analyzed to further explore leadership and its ability to enhance employee engagement for followers at this Micronesian higher education institution. This study does not substantiate the importance of transformational leadership for enhancing employee engagement, but instead shows transactional contingent reward is more important in this cultural and institutional context. The college leadership does not generally meet the expectations of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire full range leadership model, yet college employees are significantly highly engaged. Additionally, analysis of the quantitative data obtained contributes to academic discussions on potential problems with the MLQ and UWES and show these constructs may not be ideal for measuring transformational leadership or engagement. Institutional recommendations for training current and future college leaders and for developing cross-sector partnerships are given. In addition, the wider implications for future research and practice are provided.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Education)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Transformational leadership, Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, transactional leadership, higher education leadership, employee engagement, Utrecht Work Engagement Scale, Micronesia, accreditation, capacity building, higher education
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2017 15:20
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 07:20
DOI: 10.17638/03005417
  • Dow, E
  • Qualter, A