Dissonance and Engagement: Case Study of an International VET Project

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Gifford, Ryan (2023) Dissonance and Engagement: Case Study of an International VET Project. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis is a study of Australian expatriate staff engagement in their first experience of a short-term assignment on an international Vocational Education and Training (VET) project. The researcher noted instances of work-based disappointment from VET staff deployed on their first international project when away from the “home organisation” in Australia and with the “temporary organisation” in the host country. While there were many positive aspects to deployment, negative aspects in-country included a misunderstanding of their job role, unclear goals as well as stakeholder conflicts. Often the result was either dissatisfaction with their involvement or complete removal from the project. These negative aspects are detrimental to the viability of VET international project partnerships. This research seeks ways to understand staff experiences and find ways to minimise negative aspects and improve positive staff engagement. Research for this thesis was conducted through an interpretive qualitative case study of an educational collaboration between an Australian public VET institute and a small, emerging Middle East donor. By examining semi-structured interviews with staff, project-document analysis and participant-researcher field notes, instances of staff engagement were noted, analysed and categorised into findings for discussion. These findings included aspects such as contextual work expectations, incongruence of goals in a multi-stakeholder environment, and their subsequent modification. Related findings included aspects of professional development through transformational learning, and the determination that VET projects be considered, and researched, as distinct from Transnational Education (TNE) programs. Considering these findings, the discussion allows for insight into key areas on how to best manage staff in the field to help increase positive engagement, elevate work-related stakeholder positivity, and achieve stated project aims. The opportunity to introduce guided support through a Sequential Reflexive Awareness Program is also discussed. The aim is to first increase, and then retain, those who wish to volunteer for deployment on international VET projects. A pilot draft model of the awareness program is presented for further consideration and possible use in future research.

Additional Information

Doctor of Education

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/45875
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3904 Specialist studies in education
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords Vocational Education and Training; VET; international; staff engagement; interpretive qualitative case study; transnational education programs; humanistic psychology
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