An Exploratory Study of Human Resource Management Practice at a Self-financing Continuing Education Institution

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Despite extensive research on human resource management (HRM) in higher education, the specific
context of continuing education –post-secondary, non-degree education– has been underexplored. This
study fills this gap by investigating HRM practices within the self-financing continuing education
institution (SFCEI), an extension arm of a university, in Hong Kong, which mainly delivers selffinancing post-secondary continuing education programmes.
The study employed a qualitative case study approach to explore the experiences and perspectives of
leaders and employees. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with nine participants and
analysis documents such as staff handbooks, meeting notes, and related materials from the SFCEI and
University. The research was guided by a conceptual framework informed by the Guest (1987) HRM
models exploring key concepts and propositions related to strategic HRM (SHRM) in SFCEI in Hong
My research findings reveal an absence of strategy in Hong Kong’s SFCEI. The analysis examines
both the strengths and weaknesses of existing HRM practices, barriers, and potential areas for change.
The findings suggest that a triumvirate of employee influence, effective communication, and resilient
culture play a crucial role in the success of SHRM. In light of the findings, a dynamic, contextual
SHRM model is proposed for SFCEI, highlighting that employee involvement drives trust,
transparency, and enriching relationships, thereby cultivating a better work culture. Furthermore, the
research positions ‘Communication’ and ‘Culture’ as key pillars within the SHRM process,
underscoring their essential role in effective strategy implementation and positive outcomes.
Recommendations include implementing a communication strategy, fostering cultural change,
developing a school-level strategy, valuing employees, providing additional training, and establishing
meetings to encourage collaboration and reflection. This study contributes to both the academic
literature and practical knowledge, offering valuable insights for administrators and policymakers in
the field of education, specifically those seeking to enhance SHRM in SFCEI.
Date of Award19 Mar 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorCarolina C Gordillo Bravo (Supervisor) & Lisa Lucas (Supervisor)

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