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Transnational education and academic job satisfaction

Toohey, DanielORCID: 0000-0002-9900-5383 (2018) Transnational education and academic job satisfaction. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Job satisfaction in general has been related to a number of positive organisational outcomes including decreased absenteeism and increased retention (Schubert-Irastorza & Fabry, 2014). More specifically, previous research has shown that academics’ job satisfaction is important for a number of reasons related to academic work, including its positive relationships with teaching quality (Bolliger & Wasilik, 2009), research productivity (Albert, Davia, & Legazpe, 2016), as well as student satisfaction (Xiao & Wilkins, 2015) and engagement (Crosling, 2012). Factors previously indicated as impacting on academics’ job satisfaction include interaction with students and colleagues (e.g., Oshagbemi, 1999), and the autonomy associated with the degree of control academics are able to exercise over their work life (e.g., Paul & Phua, 2011).

Transnational Education (TNE) is an important facet of the international education learning and teaching landscape. Ensuring academics are positively engaged in TNE is a challenging but necessary issue for this form of educational provision, if the risks inherent in TNE are to be successfully mitigated.

The objective of this thesis is to better understand how the way in which TNE is operationalised is related to the satisfaction of the academics involved, with Hackman and Oldham’s (1975) Job Characteristics Model (JCM) being used as the theoretical framework. The research objective was addressed in two studies. The first study focused on the satisfaction of academics located at home campuses. The second study examined satisfaction from the perspective of academics at TNE locations. Both studies employed a mixed-methods research approach, with analysis of quantitative and qualitative data collected using an online questionnaire followed by semi-structured interviews.

In the first study, serious concerns regarding moderation and the processes associated with it, and the lack of direct involvement in the delivery of the unit, were highlighted. A negative relationship was identified between the amount of interaction home campus academics had with TNE academics, and their satisfaction. However, this appeared to be mitigated when the interactions were concerned with academic, rather than administrative matters. Interaction with TNE students was found to be an important factor in satisfaction, even when the interaction was not face-to-face. Other factors found to impact on academics’ satisfaction included the workload associated with TNE, in particular the timing of that work, and the lack of recognition of that work in terms of remuneration or loading.

In the second study, a negative relationship was demonstrated between the amount of modification of supplied content the TNE academic completed and their satisfaction. Neither involvement in creation of assessment, nor the moderation process, was demonstrated to impact on TNE academics’ satisfaction. Causing concern for those TNE academics employed on a casual basis however, were the employment processes of host Private Education Institutions (PEIs), particularly with regard to appointment processes and ongoing job security.

The results described in this thesis have practical implications for all involved in TNE in terms of how the academic work associated with TNE delivery is designed and allocated.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): McGill, Tanya, Jarzabkowski, Lucy and Waring, Peter
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