Impact of Supervisory Support on Training Transfer: An Empirical Study.

AuthorYaqub, Yasmin


Training programs are required for strategic management of human resource and development of competencies to sustain in a globalized economy (Park et al., 2018). Organizations achieve competitive and innovative advantage through employee training (Seiberling & Kauffeld, 2017). A highly adaptive and skilled human resource is essential for a knowledge-driven globalized economy (Kim et al., 2019).

The successful transfer of the knowledge acquired or skill imparted during a training program to the workplace justifies the organization's enormous investments, stated as "transfer of training" or TOT (Blume et al., 2010; Zumrah & Stephen, 2015). But at times, there is failure in this TOT and a gap is created (Renta-Davids et al., 2014). Due to the low rate of TOT, achieving the organizational objectives of enhanced employee performance, productivity, and innovation are not possible (Burke & Hutchins, 2007; Schindler & Burkholder, 2014). TOT occurs only when different transfer factors--individual, workplace, and training design--interact (Baldwin et al., 2017). Hence, the need to identify different factors facilitating training transfer is recommended.

Support at the workplace from management, supervisors, subordinates, and peers is the most important workplace factor that facilitates TOT (Chauhan et al., 2016; Islam & Ahmed, 2018). Supervisory support has been found as a consistent influential workplace environment variable among the aforementioned factors (Rodriguez & Gregory, 2005; Dirani, 2012). Limited information related to the provision of supervisory support at workplace is available in literature (Govaerts et al., 2017). A meta-analysis of 32 studies suggested that feedback and supervisory coaching are the most vital predictors of transfer of training (Reinhold et al., 2018). TOT also improves with the meditational influence of social support system (Stanhope et al., 2013). In fact, supervisory support, training design, and individual factors facilitate TOT (Velada & Caetano, 2007). A study by Park et al. (2018) presented the need for further empirical study to observe the impact of supervisory support on TOT. Existing studies suggest that individual characteristics play a central role in TOT (Klink et al., 2001; Ross, 2017). However, no significant empirical evidence supporting this is available (Bhatti & Kaur, 2010). Moreover, studies related to training design and method in the context of TOT are scant (Bhatti et al., 2013; Chauhan et al., 2017).

There are limited empirical studies on TOT with reference to Indian organizations. For addressing these gaps acknowledged in the literature review and for critical appreciation of the interplay of factors relating to training readiness (individual factor), transfer design (training factor), and supervisory support (workplace environment factor), we developed a model (fig. 1) and empirically tested it. Findings of this study would add to academic literature available on TOT by empirically analyzing the impact of training readiness, transfer design and supervisory support on TOT. Establishment of supervisory support as a mediator also adds value to training transfer literature.

Theory & Hypotheses

The organizational support theory posited that employees respond positively to support and are motivated to improve their performance and achieve organizational objectives (Kurtessis et al., 2015). Our theoretical model is based on the most cited Baldwin and Ford (1988) model that specifies trainees' characteristics, training design, and workplace environment as the input factors for TOT. Organizational support theory (Eisenberge et al., 2001) implies that interpersonal support at workplace augments performance and improves training transfer. Hence, we proposed that supervisory support may be a mediator in the TOT. The theoretical model examined the mediation effect of supervisory support on training readiness, transfer design, and TOT and was empirically tested through SEM (AMOS 24).

Training Transfer: Training transfer occurs when trainees consistently apply the learned behavior, attitudes, and knowledge to their work (Govaerts et al., 2017). TOT is the most important determinant of success of any training program (Velada & Caetano, 2007). It is a sequential process in which trainees learn, retain, and transfer new competencies to their real work situation (Govaerts et al., 2018) and commences when trainees return to workplace after the training and directly/indirectly utilize the learning on their job.

Training Readiness & Training Transfer: Training readiness defines the extent to which trainees are ready to attend the training (Kim et al., 2019). It prepares the trainees emotionally and psychologically to participate in the training. A positive perception of trainees (training readiness) improves TOT (Bhatti & Kaur, 2010), whereas a negative perception related to the absence of ideal conditions at workplace functions as an obstacle (Al-Swidi & Al Yahya, 2017). Hence, we can conclude that training readiness is positively associated with TOT (Kulik et al., 2007). The perception of trainees about the benefits of transferring skills, knowledge, and attitude toward work directly affects their transfer intentions (Blume et al., 2019). Thus, consider the following hypothesis:

H1: Training readiness is positively related to TOT

Training Readiness & Supervisory Support: When supervisor sets training goals and discusses training content with trainees it increases trainees' training and learning readiness (Brinkerhoff & Montesino, 1995). Also, supervisor instructions concerning training improve level of learning and TOT (Bates et al., 2007). A study by Payne et al. (2010) found that trainees who are training ready are more confident in retaining knowledge and motivated to utilize that knowledge in their workplace. Training readiness declines with decreasing support from their supervisors (Al-Swidi & Al Yahya, 2017). Training readiness impacts training transfer indirectly through mediation of transfer motivation. Learner readiness along with supervisory support provides motivation to transfer competencies to work context (Kirwan & Birchall, 2006). Thus, we hypothesize the following:

H2: Training readiness is positively related with supervisory support

Transfer Design & Training Transfer: Transfer design comprises instructions, delivery, and application of training that links learning with performance (Muduli & Raval, 2018) and assesses the applicability of training program, indicating that transfer design and TOT are positively associated (Velada et al., 2007). Transfer design that emphasizes the acquisition of both theoretical and practical skills enhances TOT (Nikandrou et al., 2009). Transfer design is a training program technique that enables trainees to utilize their learning (Holton et al., 2005) and has a positive impact on training transfer (Holton, 1996). A recent study on an Indian insurance company found a negative relationship between transfer design and TOT (Muduli & Raval, 2018). Since the sample of our study did not belong to the insurance sector, we propose the following hypothesis:

H3: Transfer design is positively related

with TOT

Transfer Design & Supervisory Support: Transfer design shares a positive relation with supervisory support along with other workplace factors (Alvelos et al., 2015). Transfer design is an amalgamation of training contents and requirements for a job (Velada et al., 2007) and represents the blueprint that sets goals and strategies for learning. The support at workplace ensures efficient and effective performance because of supervisors' encouragement to utilize the learning at work (Lau & Mclean, 2013). Despite the possibility of an insufficient transfer design, supervisory support enhances learning and utilization of skills at work (Chauhan et al., 2017). Thus, we hypothesize that:

H4:Transfer design is positively related with supervisory support

Supervisory Support & Training Transfer: According to Nijman et al. (2006), supervisory support is defined as supervisors' positive behavior that...

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