Research and training are very important drivers of economic development and account for differences in development levels between and among countries. For this reason, the African continent is seen to lag behind in development due to under investment in research and training. In Kenya, the country’s economic blue print; Vision 2030 has recognised the critical role of science, technology, innovation and training in moving the country to a middle income status. The government of Kenya implements its research and training agenda through a number of state corporations charged with the responsibility of research as well as training. However, performance of the public service in general and that of state corporations in particular has over the years been criticised due to unpredictable and unsatisfactory performance. Research and training state corporations have specifically been criticised due to poor linkage with stakeholders to facilitate demand driven research and training, slow pace of commercialisation of their services and failure to put up a mechanism to link research programmes with national priorities. Further, previous empirical studies on performance of state corporations in Kenya have paid little attention to the role of employee engagement even though there is empirical support that it has significant influence on organisational performance. Therefore, this study sought to investigate the influence of employee engagement on performance of research and training state corporations in Kenya. Specifically, the study sought to: determine the effect of traits, psychological state and behavioural engagements on performance of research and training state corporations in Kenya; to determine the moderating effect of demographic characteristics and the mediating effect of organisational commitment on the relationship between employee engagement and performance of research and training state corporations in Kenya. The study was anchored on resource based view and stakeholder theories and supplemented by social exchange, expectancy and work adjustment theories. A positivistic philosophy was adopted in order to investigate relationships among the variables. Descriptive and explanatory research designs were used to describe the variables and establish the nature of the relationships among them. The target population of the study was nine research and training state corporations in Kenya which had a total of 5728 employees. A census of the corporations was carried out supported by a multi stage sampling strategy to select participants which resulted in a sample of 378 respondents. A response rate of 70% was achieved. Descriptive statistics was used to describe the characteristics of the variables using aggregate mean score and standard deviation. The hypotheses were tested using multiple and hierarchical regressions. Adjusted R2 was used to measure the amount of variation in the dependent variable that was attributed to changes in the independent variables. The result indicates that traits, psychological state and behavioural engagements significantly influence performance of research and training state corporations in Kenya accounting for 43% of changes in performance. The influence of employee engagement on performance was found to be moderated by demographic characteristics of age, tenure and level of education while the relationship was found to be partially mediated by organisational commitment. The study concluded that employers should take in to account personality traits while hiring and assigning responsibilities to employees. Further, employers should create conducive conditions in the work place as this leads to acceptance of organisational goals as well as motivates employees to put in extra effort to ensure their achievement. Lastly, organisations should not only strive to have a diversified work force while also creating conditions that lowers staff turnover, but should be keen to hire people with high levels of education if they are to improve organisational performance.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
In most developing countries, the public service plays a significant role in driving economic growth, creating employment and facilitating the operations of the private sector (Akaranga, 2008). Therefore, most governments in Africa and other developing countries have formed state corporations to focus on developing strategic sectors of the economy, maintain employment and raise levels of savings (Anastassiou & Doumpos, 2000). In Kenya, the role of state agencies in economic development was formally anchored in policy through sessional paper number five of 1963 (Republic of Kenya, 1965).
The performance of the public service have however been criticised due to perceived inefficiencies and slow service delivery (Kobia & Mohammed, 2006). In response to the criticism, state corporations use the not for profit orientation to justify their non- performance (Mwaura, 2008). However, the public service continues facing enormous pressure to improve service delivery, lower cost and become more accountable to taxpayers (Metawie & Gilman, 2005). The demand for quality services against non- increasing and in some cases diminishing resources has ensured that the desire to improve service delivery and deliver value for tax revenue invested in public service in general and in state corporations in particular continues to occupy a central place within government policy and public discourse (RoK, 2013).
In response to performance challenges experienced in the public service, the government of Kenya has over the years implemented various public service reforms (RoK, 2013). Some of the notable reforms introduced over the years are: divesture, privatisation, staff rationalisation, governance and performance contracting (Kobia & Mohammed, 2006; Keraro & Gakure, 2013). The latest effort aimed at addressing perceived service delivery challenges in state corporations was appointment of a presidential taskforce to advice the government of Kenya (GoK) on how to improve their performance. The taskforce made a raft of recommendations among them being mergers, abolition and reclassification of state corporations (RoK, 2013). It is however noteworthy that to date, most of the recommendations have not been implemented.