Does training affect productivity of employees? Two methods of meta-analysis.

AuthorDavar, S.C.


In today's world of technological changes, organizational work is characterized by complexity, rapid change and increasingly competitive business environment. Thus, a critical issue in work-setting that pervades the minds of behavioral scientists and management practitioners is to get the maximum output with available human resources at a given workplace. Moreover, it is necessary to equip the employees with requisite skills needed to outperform and upgrade them. Behavioral scientists are confident that whatever may be the level of equipment sophistication in the organization, its size, or products produced or services provided, the increase in competence and efficiency of employees through provision of training is a useful investment. Olivero and Kopelman (1997) analyzed the effects of off-the-job training given to 31 top level managers in a public sector, service providing enterprise on their productivity. Training imparted covered areas like goal-setting, collaborative problem solving, supervisory involvement, evaluation of end results, etc. They found a positive correlation of 0.22 between training given and resultant increase in productivity. The limitation of the study however was that the selected research design included only 31 participants and as a result field experiment could not be conducted.

Hamid (2011) emphasized that training is an important human resource development tool used in the tourism industry in India. Also training should be provided to employees of different levels, specially the middle level managers in the organizations to cope with social and technological changes and improve their productivity. She did an analytical study using chi square and regression tools. The results showed a correlation of 0.30 between the on-the-job training given to public sector middle level employees and their productivity. However, it is difficult to establish that there exists a significant relationship between training and employee productivity. Results of a set of studies indicate that there is a positive relationship between training and employee productivity (Monge 1986; Delame & Kramarz, 1997). But, a number of research studies report a low level of relationship (correlation) between training and employee productivity (Taymaz, 1998). Also, previous studies based on meta-analysis do not indicate a clear picture about the relationship between training and productivity. A major limitation of the past studies is that they do not cross-validate the results. Therefore, the results given by these studies could not be trusted. Further, all the probable moderators that can affect the relationship between training and productivity have not been explored.

Meta-analytic studies have been conducted to ascertain the general relationship between training and productivity. Arthur & Bennett (2003) used meta-analysis to examine the relationship between specified training design and employee productivity and the effectiveness of training in organizations. The results suggested a correlation of 0.2873 between training given to workers and their productivity. In addition, the training method used, the skill or task characteristic trained, and the choice of evaluation criteria were related to the effectiveness of training programs. They concluded that training is one of the most pervasive methods for enhancing the productivity of individuals and communicating organizational goals to new personnel. Zhang (1999) applied meta-analysis procedures to experimental studies to find out the magnitude of the effect of management training from 1983 to 1997 on trainee's learning, job productivity and organization results. A major finding of the study was that on-the-job training made a significant difference in trainees' productivity and increased it by 0.49%. Greenberg, Michalopoulos, and Robinsan (2003)used meta-analysis to synthesize findings from 31 evaluations of 15 voluntary government-funded training programs for the disadvantaged that operated between 1964 and 1998. They adopted the model drawn by Raudenbush (1981), which studied the variance due to sampling error and variance between unmeasured factors. The study analyzed the training's effect on productivity through effects on earnings. The program characteristics included type of training, enrollee characteristics, area economic conditions, and evaluation method and time period of training. Through the mean and standard deviations, it was concluded that training effects were largest for women, modest for men and negligible for youths. Moreover, the training programs have not become more effective over time as the increase in earnings was fairly less for every trainee as compared to previous years specially when unemployment rate was high. Also, on-the-job training was most effective than basic education. Miller and Monge (1986) considered 41 estimates of the relationship between participation and satisfaction. After accumulation of estimates of effects, the weighted mean correlation was .34 and the true variance was .0301. As many as 25 studies containing estimates of the relationship between participation and productivity were analyzed. After accumulation of effect estimates, the weighted mean correlation was .15 and the true variance was .0334. A chi-square test showed this variance differed significantly from 0 (chi-square = 69.47, d.f. = 25, p

In the studies, few authors used Burke and Day's meta-analysis (1986) to integrate the findings whereas others used Hunter, Schmidt, and Jackson (1982) Framework. The findings across the various studies showed that training given to employees had positive impact on their productivity but various moderator factors influence the magnitude of this impact. These moderators may be present in the form of type of training, nature of job, organization type, size of firm, gender of employees etc.

Key Hypotheses

The present meta-analysis attempts to clarify whether there is a substantive relationship between training and productivity. It may be explained that a meta-analysis brings out the magnitude of average effect of size and this predicts the substantive relationship. Also the study explores the moderators, if any, that influence the relationship between training and productivity.


These days, it is common to apply the meta-analysis in the discipline of education, psychology, and general management, for the generalization of various relationships and identification of moderator variables (Davar, 2004). Glass (1976) coined the term-meta analysis with a view to distinguish the unique statistical methodology for the synthesis of descriptive statistics (e.g. correlation...

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