Training, development and performance in a public corporation : case study of the Nigerian railway corporation.
Rail transport in Nigeria confronts the challenge of providing more efficient services to serve the needs of the economy. Past neglect of the corporation has led to poor performance, contributing less than .5% to GDP. A much reduced, ill-motivated and inefficient workforce and management neglect have resulted in the NRC‘s current dilapidated and degraded state. Moribund traffic and diminishing capacity to serve its customers have resulted in a huge loss in income for the corporation. Management has taken up the challenge to restore the corporation to its former glory, by providing efficient services to cargo owners and improved safety and operational performance to the numerous commuters. The NRC has adopted T&D as a core strategy to cope with ever-increasing competitive pressure and demands for efficient and improved services, as well as a better manpower base. This study focuses on analysing Training and Development (T&D), and performance in a public corporation in Nigeria. The primary aim was to analyse the perceived impact of T&D on performance as well as workers‘ perceptions of the organisation‘s effectiveness in managing the factors that hinder or promote training transfer. The relationship between the impact of T&D and performance in a government-owned corporation has not received adequate attention in Nigeria; only occasional references are made to a connection between these concepts. The evidence suggests that the impact of T&D on performance is subject to debate and many organisations do not measure it. However, organisations are increasingly considering human capital (i.e. the people who make up an organisation) a source of competitive advantage; such advantage is sustained mainly through human resource development initiatives. Therefore, investing in human capital has become a critical strategic option for contemporary organisations because the ability of any firm to compete successfully is a function of the availability of skills and knowledge and how they are managed. Furthermore, despite the numerous benefits of T&D to organisations, the influence of T&D in the public sector has not received serious attention and is traditionally not evaluated. This is due to leadership changes when one regime replaces another as politicians‘ lack of awareness of T&D‘s impact on organisations and the economy. There is a dearth of effective instruments to measure changes in performance directly or indirectly related to T&D activities. Furthermore, the bulk of the studies on the influence of T&D initiatives on individual and organisational performance have been conducted in the manufacturing sector. It is not known whether similar results will be obtained in other sectors. This study was carried out among 297 employees of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC). A questionnaire was administered to employees and personal interviews were held with the Directors, as well as technical and administrative staff. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were adopted and the results were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics, e.g. Pearson correlation, Chi Square multiple regression etc. The analysis was largely descriptive and regression-based and the investigation was a co-relational study in a public sector organisation. Through a literature review, interviews and a questionnaire survey, the study explored the formulation, implementation and evaluation of T&D initiatives in a public corporation and how these are perceived to influence individual and organisational performance. Training and development was found to impact positively on employees‘ skills, knowledge and ability, irrespective of their position and function. This influenced overall organisational performance. Training and development was found to be responsible for approximately 23% of the improvement in job performance. Motivation to transfer, performance self-efficacy, transfer design and personal capacity were the only factors found to significantly influence transfer of learning on the job; this implies that the influence of transfer factors is contextual or situational, i.e. factors that influence learning transfer in one organisation may not do so in another. This study contributes to knowledge by presenting a framework for essential practices for T&D which was formulated from the findings of the literature review. It further contributes to knowledge by adding value to the on-going debate on the impact of T&D and training transfer on job performance in a typical government organisation, and by presenting a possible framework for the future study and management of T&D programmes. Finally, the study contributes to knowledge as it was carried out in a unique context – the NRC in Africa. The majority of previous studies were conducted in developed countries focusing on commercial organisations, and never on the transport sector.