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Almessabi, BNA 2017, 'Critical factors in leadership succession planning: securing the human resources future for government organisations in the Abu Dhabi Emirate, UAE', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright BNA Almessabi 2017


This thesis examines leadership succession planning (LSP) initiatives for national employees working in non-profit government organisations in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The United Arab Emirates government has provided substantial resources for developing national leaders to meet the country’s strategic goal of nationalisation in all jobs. The UAE has a large expatriate workforce and a rapidly developing economy. When those expatriates leave, a major challenge for an organisation is to source qualified national employees to replace them, so as to sustain the organisation’s future. LSP initiatives are thus important in securing the second generation of national employees who can lead the country’s future growth. Therefore, the overarching research aim for this study was to explore the predictors of successful LSP implementation, and further, to identify the factors and variables that determine LSP effectiveness.

The study utilised a sequential exploratory design incorporating a mixed-method approach. The first stage consisted of a series of 12 in-depth interviews with human resource managers, CEOs and experts in the field of LSP. Based on the information gleaned from the interviews, a survey was developed. In this second stage, the survey was sent to national employees in eight government sectors, with a final sample of 130 nationals.

Overall, the results indicate disagreement that current LSP initiatives are effective. Four variables were identified in the qualitative analysis as important to effective implementation of LSP, and in the quantitative analysis, three of them were shown to be statistically significant: a) human resource practices, b) involvement of the employee’s direct manager, and c) senior management leadership support. The fourth variable, employee commitment, was not found to be a significant predictor. Subsequent regression analysis indicated that management support and human resource practices were the most important predictors. Post hoc exploratory factor (EFA) analysis demonstrated that human resource support was uni-dimensional and the rest of the variables were two-dimensional.

The major findings of the research, implications for the body of knowledge, and suggestions for future research are offered in the final chapter of the thesis. Key recommendations emphasise the important role of HR within government organisations, the significance of managerial skills, and the powerful influence of buy-in and enforcement by senior leadership management, for the successful implementation of LSP.