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Stimulating training motivation using the right training characteristic

Siti Fardaniah Abdul Aziz and Shamsuddin Ahmad

Siti Fardaniah Abdul Aziz is Lecturer at the School of Psychology and Human Development, Faculty of Social Sciences, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi Selangar, Malaysia. Shamsuddin Ahmad is Lecturer at the Department of Professional Development and Continuing Education, Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia.

Abstract Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide human resource practitioners with practical information on the characteristics of a training programme that stimulates training motivation. Design/methodology/approach The paper uses integrative literature reviews of 40 empirical studies on training programme characteristics that have motivated trainees conducted since 1986. Findings The main characteristics of a training programme that stimulate training motivation are option to voluntary attendance, training reputation, appropriate training design, and the relevance of training for job-, career-, and personal-related needs. Research limitations/implications For future research, these six training programme characteristics should be empirically researched altogether to identify the factor with the strongest inuence on training motivation, in which priorities can be focused on that main factor. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the proposed propositions further. Practical implications A number of studies indicated that training programme characteristics inuence training motivation; however, different scholars selected different characteristics and dened and segregated them into various types of training motivation. Consequently, a vague explanation on the effect of the training programme on training motivation is demonstrated. Therefore, this paper seeks to help practitioners choose the right training programme characteristics that stimulate training motivation, by giving a comprehensive explanation. Originality/value This is the rst review to explain the characteristics of a training programme that affects training motivation using an integrative and comprehensive literature review. Keywords Training methods, Motivation (psychology), Human resourcing, Training evaluation Paper type Literature review

Introduction
Human resourcing is key to determining organizational success (Dessler, 2008; Cascio, 2009; Daft, 2008). This explains why organizations nowadays are willing to spend billions of dollars to train their human resources (Blickstein, 1996; Politt, 2001). As a result, training effectiveness has become crucial in determining the return on investment (Bedingham, 1997; Holton et al., 2000). Hence, a large number of scholars are interested in investigating the variables associated with training effectiveness (e.g. Tracey and Cardenas, 1996; Paek, 2005; Lim and Morris, 2006; Chiaburu and Tekleab, 2005; Ooi et al., 2007; Coyne, 2008; Nikandrou et al., 2009). Conventionally, some studies demonstrated training motivation as the most important factor for training effectiveness (e.g. Mathieu et al., 1992; Cannon-Bowers et al., 1995; Baldwin et al., 1991; Kontoghiorghes, 2004; Bell and Ford, 2007). Some theoretical models of training effectiveness (e.g. Cannon-Bowers et al., 1995; Holton, 1996, 2005) highlighted the important effects of training motivation that inuence the relationship between the variables associated with training (organizational characteristics, individual characteristics, and training programme characteristics (TPCs)) and training

DOI 10.1108/00197851111098171

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effectiveness. Although there are three major variables associated with training effectiveness, individual characteristics are beyond the human resource practitioners control since most of the time the employer has to send each employee for training. Organizational characteristics include many people, systems, and cultures and hence are unpredictable and beyond control. In contrast, TPCs are seen to be the easiest to manipulate. Fortunately, a number of studies indicated that several TPCs play an important role in stimulating training motivation (e.g. Clark et al., 1993; Seyler et al., 1998; Nease, 1999; Klein et al., 2006; Tai, 2006; Bell and Ford, 2007). This information makes it easier for human resource practitioners to improve the effectiveness of training by constructing or choosing the right TPCs to stimulate training motivation. However, a comprehensive explanation that integrates the impacts of various TPCs on training motivation remains largely unclear. Despite the fact that researchers are passionate about investigating the effect of TPCs on training motivation, researchers dened TPCs using different interpretations. For example, good reputation of training is varyingly interpreted as perception about the training provider (Al-Ammar, 1994), training value (Cheng and Ho, 1998), training reputation (Hansen, 2001), and training framing (Tai, 2006). In fact, the segregation of TPCs into different types of training motivation such as pre-training motivation (Baldwin et al., 1991; Facteau et al., 1995; Hansen, 2001), motivation to learn (e.g. Nease, 1999; Klein et al., 2006; Bell and Ford, 2007), and motivation to transfer (e.g. Seyler et al., 1998; Nikandrou et al., 2009; Gegenfurtner, Festner, Gallenberger, Lehtinen and Gruber, 2009), makes it difcult to understand their contribution to training motivation. Indeed, different researchers selected different TPCs for empirical testing with regard to their effect on training motivation. For instance, Tharenou (2001) selected the characteristic of voluntarism in a training programme; Klein et al. (2006) emphasised the effect of the delivery mode; Bell and Ford (2007) focused on the effect of distributive justice and training utility. Consequently, there is a need to integrate these research ndings to understand what kind of TPCs should be constructed to stimulate training motivation. Without a clear explanation as to what kind of TPCs affect training motivation, it is difcult for human resource practitioners to choose the right training programme, and research ndings are likely to remain unused. Therefore, this paper seeks to help practitioners understand the TPCs that affect training motivation, using an integrative literature review.

Methods
An integrative literature review was done to integrate TPCs associated with training motivation. The method used to accomplish the integrative literature review is as proposed in Torraco (2005) and some previous research works (e.g. Colquitt et al., 2000; Gegenfurtner, Veermans, Festiner and Gruber, 2009). Suitable publications that reported TPCs associated with training motivation, which were published between 1986 and 2009, were selected as enclosure characteristics for the literature review. Then, the cross-reference method was used for these publications to nd related publications that appeared in peer-reviewed journals within the enclosure characteristics. An extensive database search in EBSCOHOST, ISI Web of Science, PsycINFO, ProQuest, Sage Publication, and the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) was done for the keywords training motivation, training-related motivation, pre-training motivation, motivation to learn, motivation to transfer, post-training motivation, training programme characteristics, and training effectiveness. In sum, there are about 40 publications on TPCs that meet the enclosure characteristics.

Effect of training motivation on training effectiveness


Training effectiveness refers to the systematic acquisition of skills, rules, concepts or attitudes that results in improve performance (Goldstein, 1986, p. 3), and the benet that the company and trainees receive from training (Noe, 2009, p. 170). Prior researchers tend to evaluate training effectiveness based on the basic four levels of training evaluation developed by Kirkpatrick (1959, in Kirkpatrick, 1996; Kirkpatrick, 2000): reaction, learning,

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Without a clear explanation as to what kind of TPCs affect training motivation, it is difcult for human resource practitioners to choose the right training programme, and research ndings are likely to remain unused.

behaviour, and results. On the other hand, training motivation is dened as a specic desire of the trainee to learn the content of the training program, and use the knowledge and skills mastered in the training program on the job (Noe, 1986, p. 743). Colquitt et al. (2000) found that training motivation (motivation to learn) mediates the relationship between the variables associated with training and training effectiveness through the model of Integrative Theory of Training Motivation. In fact, a number of research works demonstrated the effect of different types of training motivation on training effectiveness. The effect of different types of training motivation can be seen in pre-training motivational research; Baldwin et al.s (1991) study indicated that individuals with higher pre-training motivation on the basis of their willingness to attend training have greater learning outcomes as compared to individuals that have lower pre-training motivation. Cannon-Bowers et al. (1995) veried that pre-training motivation is the most important factor for training effectiveness as compared to other factors, based on the reaction towards training, such as indicated by the feeling of happiness and relatedness with the job. They also found that pre-training motivation is a signicant predictor of attrition, wherein without pre-training motivation, trainees are more likely to leave training midway. In fact, pre-training motivation can also affect transfer of training and maintaining the used of training outcomes; as indicated by Chiaburu and Tekleab (2005). Indeed, Hansen (2001) found that pre-training motivation contributes 58 per cent of the variance in perceived training transfer. Further, several researchers found that motivation to learn in training also has a large effect on training effectiveness; Mathieu et al. (1992) found that training motivation is a main factor for training effectiveness, based on the reaction towards training. Indeed, they also found that learning performance was signicantly higher for motivated trainees as compared to the unmotivated trainees. In fact, Bell and Ford (2007) proved that motivation to learn in training is an important factor for training effectiveness; for example, it affects training reaction, behavioural intention, and self-efcacy. Some researchers also found that training motivation signicantly affects transfer of training; Kontoghiorghes (2004) revealed that motivation is the most important predictor for transfer of training as compared to other factors. Axtell et al. (1997) identied the factors that predict immediate and longer term training transfer using a longitudinal approach in which data were collected in three different time frames: time frame 1 (right after completion of training), time frame 2 (one month after completion of training), and time frame 3 (one year after completion of training). Using multiple regression analysis, their research found that trainees motivation is an important factor in transfer of training in time frame 1, time frame 2, and time frame 3. Noticeably, training motivation has a large effect on training effectiveness. Although there are different types of training motivation, prior research still supports the notion that training motivation is an important factor that affects training effectiveness.

TPCs that stimulate training motivation


TPCs refer to the quality of the learning material and the environment that inuence trainees motivation in the training experience, such as the reputation of training (Hansen, 2001) and the option to attend training (Baldwin et al., 1991). The function of training motivation as a

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mediating variable on the relationship between TPCs and training effectiveness has been clearly demonstrated by a large number of studies (e.g. Mathieu et al., 1992; Facteau et al., 1995; Cheng and Ho, 1998; Hansen, 2001; Nease, 1999; Klein et al., 2006; Tai, 2006; Bell and Ford, 2007). As an extension, a few scholars investigated the TPCs that associated with training motivation (e.g. Clark et al., 1993; Al-Ammar, 1994; Martineau, 1995; Seyler et al., 1998; Tharenou, 2001; Tsai and Tai, 2003; Tellis, 2004; Rowold, 2007; Gegenfurtner, Festner, Gallenberger, Lehtinen and Gruber, 2009). These imply that several TPCs stimulate the employees motivation in the training experience, which subsequently fosters training effectiveness. Based on the Comprehensive Model of Training Effectiveness by Cannon-Bowers et al. (1995), training motivation inuences the relationship between several TPCs and training effectiveness, which include training method, content, principles, and instructors. Holtons (1996, 2005) model of HRD Evaluation Research and Measurement stressed how the reputation of training (trainees perception of training) and training design (learning design) affect training motivation. Additionally, a large number of empirical research works identied several TPCs that affect training motivation; these TPCs can be useful for human resource practitioners to choose or construct a training programme in order to stimulate training motivation. TPCs that affect training motivation include the following: 1. Option to voluntary attendance. Option to attend training refers to examining whether trainees are forced to attend training or attend the training program voluntarily (Tsai and Tai, 2003, p. 153). Tharenou (2001) found that a training programme that is based on voluntarism has a positive effect on the pre-training and post-training motivation. Nease (1999), Facteau et al. (1995), and Hansen (2001) indicated that if training is compliance, pre-training motivation decreases. Compliance refers to the extent to which training is taken because it is mandated by the organization (Facteau et al., 1995, p. 3); Tsai and Tai (2003) referred to this as training assignment, but in contrast, found that compliance increases training motivation. Implicitly, this may be explained through the research ndings of Baldwin et al. (1991), which demonstrated that if trainees are willing to attend training, regardless of whether training is mandatory or voluntary, training motivation increases, and subsequently improves learning performance. This is also in conjunction with Nikandrou et al.s (2009) research ndings that the decision to participate in training affects training motivation. Therefore, a training programme that offers the option to voluntary attendance is essential for training motivation. 2. Training reputation. Training reputation refers to the good expectation about the quality of the course (Facteau et al., 1995, p. 3). A number of research ndings indicated that good reputation of training increases the pre-training motivation. Different researchers dened reputation of training using different terms such as training reputation (Facteau et al. 1995; Hansen, 2001), attitude towards training (Naquin and Holton, 2002), reaction towards training (Nease, 1999), and perception about training provider (Al-Ammar, 1994). In fact, the reputation of training is also assessed by trainees after the completion of training, wherein it affects their motivation to training transfer. This is based on the research ndings of several studies that interpreted training reputation as attitude towards training (Seyler et al., 1998; Rowold, 2007; Gegenfurtner, Festner, Gallenberger, Lehtinen and Gruber, 2009), training value (Cheng and Ho, 1998), transformed reaction (Nease, 1999), and reaction towards training environment (Tannenbaum et al., 1991; Martineau, 1995; Seyler et al., 1998; Tellis, 2004). In addition, training reputation could also affect training motivation before and after the completion of training, as veried by some scholars that referred to it as training framing (Tai, 2006) and attitude towards training (Rowold, 2007). Therefore, a training programme with good reputation also contributes to training motivation. 3. Training design. Training design refers to the characteristics of the learning environment (Noe, 2009, p. 147). A few training design characteristics were corroborated to increase motivation the to learn, such as rewards in training (Whitehill and McDonald, 1993), distributive justice (Bell and Ford, 2007), and several training methods such as trainees centred learning (Nikandrou et al., 2009), open-ended and short-answer learning (Baldwin

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et al., 1991), and blended learning (Klein et al., 2006). Distributive justice is referred to as fair treatment in a training programme and includes consistent rules, accurate information, unbiased, concern for trainees feelings, and basis on prevailing moral and ethical standards (Quinones, 1997). Whitehill and McDonald (1993) found that variable payoff, wherein rewards were continually offered to increase training performance, tended to improve performance more than xed payoff. In addition, using a quasi experimental design, Klein et al. (2006) found that students in blended learning (that combines online and interactive teaching such as PowerPoint, streamed videos, self-tests, discussion boards, and chat room) were more motivated to learn as compared to the students in a traditional classroom setting (based on lectures); wherein training design enables trainees to increase their motivation to learn. On the other hand, Tai (2006) found that familiarity with training content increases the pre-training and post-training motivation. In fact, Gegenfurtner, Festner, Gallenberger, Lehtinen and Gruber (2009) found that instrumental satisfaction increases the motivation to training transfer. These research works demonstrate that training design also stimulates training motivation. 4. Relevance of training for job-related needs. Relevance of training for job-related needs refers to the extent to which training outcomes can be useful and related to job needs. Clark et al. (1993) found that job utility is a major factor for pre-training motivation (b 0:576, p , 0:01), and can be seen as the most important factor for TPCs that affects training motivation. This is consistent with Nikandrou et al. (2009, p. 262) ndings that indicated that job utility or the degree to which training can be useful in job performance affects training motivation. On the other hand, several researchers also corroborated that the relevance of training for job-related needs affects the motivation to training transfer. Relevance of training for job-related needs was referred as training fullment (Tannenbaum et al., 1991), reaction towards content validity (Seyler et al., 1998), and relatedness (Gegenfurtner, Festner, Gallenberger, Lehtinen and Gruber, 2009). Therefore, a training programme that needs to stimulate training motivation should be relevant for job-related needs. 5. Relevance of training for career-related needs. Relevance of training for career-related needs refers to the degree to which training can be useful in the trainees career in general (Nikandrou et al., 2009, p. 262). Clark et al. (1993) and Nikandrou et al. (2009) found that a training programme that offers career utility increases training motivation. Facteau et al. (1995) and Hansen (2001) found that career planning and exploration is one of the factors that increase pre-training motivation. This explains that a training programme that offers utility for the trainees career can also stimulate training motivation. 6. Relevance of training for personal-related needs. According to Noe (1986, p. 740), trainees expectation from the training programme could be classied into three aspects:
B

expectation of the preferences among the various outcomes (e.g. promotion, recognition) resulting from participation in the programme; expectations regarding the likelihood that effort invested in the training programme (e.g. participation in group exercises, answering questions, and practicing skills) will result in the mastery of the training content; and expectation that good performance in the training programme will lead to desirable outcomes.

Consistently, several studies indicated that relevance of training for personal-related needs affects the motivation to learn; such as training utility (Bell and Ford, 2007) and perceived

Job utility or the degree to which training can be useful in job performance affects training motivation.

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importance of training (Tsai and Tai, 2003). In fact, training utility (Nease, 1999) and self-assessed needs (Myers, 1997) were also found to inuence both the pre-training and post-training motivation. Therefore, training that can meet personnel-related needs such as providing recognition and promotion, knowledge and skills, or desirable outcomes (e.g. enhance networking), can stimulate training motivation. Taken together, there are six main TPCs that stimulate training motivation which can be useful for human resource practitioners to choose or construct a training programme. First, a training programme that offers option to voluntary attendance is essential for training motivation. Although each employee has to be sent for training, it needs to be ensured that the trainees are willing to attend that particular training programme by providing them with an option to voluntary attendance or by involving them in the decision to attend training. Second, good reputation of training also contributes to training motivation, which can be inferred using previous records related to that particular training. Previous records usually provide information about a training programmes reputation in terms of the content, teaching method, facilitators/instructors, accommodation, facilities, and overall reaction to the training programme itself. Third, training design also stimulates training motivation. The criteria of training design that stimulate training motivation include rewards, distributive justice, familiarity of training content with the job setting, and training methods such as trainees centred learning, open-ended learning, short-answer learning, and blended learning. Fourth, training programme should be relevant to job-related needs, such as providing skills to deal with routine task. Fifth, training programme should also be relevant to career-related needs, such as providing multi-skills that can be used in the future. Finally, a training programme should also be consistent with the employees personal needs such as providing recognition and promotion, knowledge and skills, or desirable outcomes.

Conclusion
Human resources are seen as a valuable asset; this explains why organizations nowadays are willing to spend billions of dollars on training investment. Therefore, training effectiveness is crucial in determining the return on investment, and hence a large number of research works have been focusing on improving the effectiveness of training. Conventionally, prior studies have indicated that training motivation determines the effectiveness of training, and can be stimulated by choosing or constructing the right TPCs. A number of research works empirically investigated TPCs associated with training motivation. However, most works used selective TPCs, and dened and segregated them into different types of training motivation, which makes it difcult to determine the right TPCs to stimulate training motivation. Therefore, the aim of this paper was to provide a comprehensive explanation on the kind of TPCs that stimulate training motivation using an integrative literature review. Based on the integrative literature review, human resource practitioners can choose or construct a training programme that stimulates training motivation using the following six criteria: option to voluntary attendance, good training reputation, appropriate training design, and relevant of training to job-related needs, career-related needs, and personal-related needs. For future research, these six TPCs should be empirically researched altogether to identify the factor with the strongest inuence on training motivation, in which priorities can be focused on that main factor. This is in conjunction with the limitation of prior studies; in which a few scholars such as Tharenou (2001), Klein et al. (2006), Bell and Ford (2007), Rowold (2007), and Gegenfurtner, Festner, Gallenberger, Lehtinen and Gruber (2009) suggested that these variables should be tested again using other kind of training programme, because it may demonstrate different effect on different kinds of training programmes.

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Corresponding author
Siti Fardaniah Abdul Aziz can be contacted at: daniah@ukm.my

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