Workforce Diversity and Performance of Academic Staff in Selected Public Universities in Kenya
Munene, Laura Gakii
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Performance of academic staff in public university has been of interest to various stakeholders in the recent past. There have been concerns of the diminishing levels of performance and the need to improve this. Employee diversity necessitates organizations to undertake various strategies to ensure that different unique individuals have a favorable environment to produce optimally. Firm’s wishing to remain viable in the competitive environment need to attract and retain diverse employees from whom they can tap different talents, capabilities, experiences and skills for optimal employee performance. Workforce diversity and workforce diversity initiatives have become one of the key drivers of employee performance. This study focused on investigating the effect of workforce diversity on performance of academic staff in selected public universities in Kenya. It was guided by the specific objectives; to determine the effect of internal dimension, external dimension and organizational dimension on performance of academic staff in selected public universities in Kenya, to examine the mediating effect of diversity initiatives and moderating effect of internal institution factors on the relationship between workforce diversity and performance of academic staff in selected public universities in Kenya. The study was anchored on role theory, expectancy theory, individual level performance model and social categorization theory as its foundations for theoretical link between the variables. Positivist research philosophy guided this research. Descriptive cross sectional research design was used to obtain data concerning the current status of performance of academic staff and the workforce diversity variables. The target population constituted 7143 academic staff from six purposefully selected public universities (University of Nairobi, Moi, Kenyatta, Egerton, Jomo Kenyatta university of Agriculture and Technology and Maseno university) from where the sample size of 379 academic staff were randomly selected using proportionate random and systematic sampling. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data. The questionnaire was administered using the Survey Monkey format. The questionnaires’ had a reliability of 0.708 Cronbach Alpha coefficients. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the variables while inferential statistics were used to establish the relationships between the independent and dependent variable. Meaning from quantitative data was derived through numerical values while that from quantitative data was derived through inferences. The study hypotheses were tested at 95% confidence level. The results indicate that internal dimension had no significant effect on performance of academic staff while external dimension and organizational dimension have a positive significant effect on performance of academic staff. Diversity initiatives were also found to be a partial mediator in the relationship between workforce diversity and performance of academic staff while internal institution factors were an explanatory variable in the relationship between workforce diversity and performance of academic staff. The study concluded that workforce diversity has mixed effect on academic staff performance. Moreover, the study confirmed that diversity initiatives are valuable human resource practices that can lead to superior performance. Policy makers can use the findings of this study to evaluate how well higher education sector can be leveraged through external and internal dimensions of diversity in order to contribute to increased growth in the sector. The study suggests that future research should focus on broadening work force diversity study to other industries for further generalization of findings to broad sectors.