In the current competitive business environment, the ability of a firm to achieve sustainable success depends on the capabilities of its leaders. According to Dam (2018), it is important to have a team of highly-skilled, dedicated, and experienced individuals holding key positions within a firm to achieve desired success. Studies have proven that leaders are created through proper training, exposure to the right environment, and engagements (Al-Hammadi et al., 2018).
It is often easy for a firm to recruit persons who have proven to have unique leadership capabilities. However, a successful firm should not simply rely on poaching such talents from other companies. The best approach is to create an internal environment that can help to identify and support future leaders. When these leaders are identified and supported locally within the firm, they tend to be more local than those who are poached from other companies.
Studies have linked workplace happiness with employee leadership. According to Blankstein et al. (2016), creating leaders within an organization is a demanding process. The environment within which a prospect leader has in an organization matters a lot.
Happiness within a firm is defined by different factors. One of them is employee engagement. When employees feel that they are involved in making important decisions, they will be happy and will have the desire of becoming effective decision-makers. Job satisfaction is another factor that defines the happiness of a worker. When one feels satisfied with what they are doing, they tend to be more creative and productive for the firm. Other factors such as workplace safety, valued social position, social support from friends and family members all influence an individual’s happiness and their ability to become effective leaders. In this paper, the researcher seeks to investigate the effect of work environment happiness on employees, especially women’s, leadership.
Successful organizations around the world have come to appreciate the significance of diversity in the workplace. As such, it is becoming increasingly common to find women playing significant leadership roles in various public and private entities in the United Arab Emirates and other parts of the world. According to Elmasry et al. (2016), in an environment where leadership has always been dominated by men, it is critical for a firm to redefine workplace culture and practices to ensure that women can experience career growth and get into leadership positions. The happiness of employees has often been associated with their ability to become successful leaders.
The researcher seeks to investigate if indeed it is true that when employees, especially women, are happy, they can become successful leaders in their respective organizations. This investigation is important because it will help local entities within the country to understand how they can create an environment where all employees can flourish irrespective of their gender. The following research questions will guide the process of collecting primary and secondary data. The following primary research question is directly related to the research topic:
- RQ1. What are the factors that affect happiness at work, and how do they influence employees’ performance and leadership?
The following are the supportive research questions that will help in the data collection process:
- RQ2.What are the factors affecting the work environment?
- RQ3. How can organizations design a healthy work environment?
- RQ4.How does the work environment help in supporting women leaders?
- RQ5. How does the work environment affect employee performance?
- RQ6. How does employee performance affect employee satisfaction?
- RQ7. How does employee satisfaction affect employee leadership?
The concept of leadership has attracted the attention of many scholars over the past several decades. When conducting this study, it was important to define its objectives to ensure that it addresses specific weaknesses in the current literature. According to Askarzai and Unhelkar (2017), a new study should always focus on addressing a specific concern within a given field instead of duplicating an already existing piece of information.
The best way of ensuring that the study specifically addresses issues of concern is to develop effective research objectives. In this case, the set objectives should help in determining the relationship between workplace happiness and the ability of an employee to achieve career growth and become a leader. As Bratianu (2018) observes, a number of different factors exist that can make an employee become an effective and successful leader.
However, this investigation is specifically focused on the environment within which an employee works. It seeks to determine how various factors in the workplace influence employees’ happiness and the relationship between that happiness and workers’ ability to become a leader. The aim of the study is to provide concrete information to local firms on how they can create an environment that workers find to be effective in their effort to become successful leaders. The following are the research objectives that should be realized by the end of the investigation based on the research questions developed above.
- To identify factors that influence employees’ happiness in the workplace environment.
- To establish the relationship between happiness in the workplace environment and employees’ satisfaction and performance.
- To establish the relationship between employees’ satisfaction/performance and employee leadership.
- To discuss how organizations can create an environment where women can flourish in their careers to become successful leaders.
The debate about whether leaders are born or made has raged on for decades as scholars try to investigate what it takes to have successful individuals heading different organizations. According to Zinn et al. (2016), there seems to be a consensus about this issue. Investigations have revealed that successful leaders are made. Inasmuch as some people are born with some traits that make them more likely to become successful leaders, if they are not natured and taken through proper training processes, they are less likely to become successful leaders.
On the other hand, an individual who lacked specific traits considered critical of a successful leader can learn about them with time and know-how to guide others to success. According to Abramovitz (2018), in the current society, it is almost impossible for one to head a large organization into success if they lack the right education. As such, it has become evident that modern leaders are made.
In this paper, it was important to investigate how the workplace environment can influence the process of making successful leaders. Of interest was to determine how women can achieve career growth and hold powerful managerial positions in different organizations around the country. According to Gavin and Mason (2004), in many societies that embrace Islamic culture, men are expected to be the breadwinners of their families while women are expected to take care of their homes. For a long time, the role of men as leaders has not been challenged.
However, through education and women empowerment, it is now becoming normal to find women in leadership positions both within the government entities and private organizations (Power, 2016). It has become apparent that these organizations can become more successful when they allow their workers to become leaders based on their capabilities instead of their gender.
Appointing a few women to positions of influence is not enough to empower them in a society that seeks to promote equality for both men and women. This study is important because it seeks to investigate how local entities can create an environment where women can horn their leadership skills. As Kane (2019) notes, it is necessary to eliminate the idea that women can only hold powerful positions within a firm when they are appointed even if they lack the needed skills. It compromises their authority to lead in these organizations. Instead, all employees should be subjected to an environment where they learn that their gender has nothing to do with their capacity to be leaders. A highly supportive and happy workplace will enable these women to explore their talents and achieve consistent career growth that comes with a sense of respect and authority from peers.
The relationship between happiness in the workplace and employee leadership is a field that is yet to attract the attention of numerous scholars. However, it is important to note that the two variables have been investigated under different but related contexts. Studies have looked at the effect of having a team of happy workers on their ability to achieve success in their respective assignments. In this section of the paper, it is necessary to review what other scholars have found out in relation to this topic. According to Basias and Pollalis (2018), the primary goal of every researcher is to create new information that addresses the existing research gaps and adds new knowledge to a given field of study. It is crucial to ensure that the study does not duplicate already existing information.
Literature review makes it possible to identify information that has already been made available and areas that still need further investigation (Anand, 2018). It provides background information upon which a researcher can develop further investigations. When reviewing the literature, the researcher identified and discussed the independent and dependent variables in practical literature as shown below:
Independent variable 1: Employees Engagement
One of the most important independent variables that were identified in this study was emotional engagement. It was established that it directly influences the level of happiness that employees have in their workplace. Emotional engagement refers to the emotional and mental attachment that a worker has towards a task or the place of work (Al-Emrana et al., 2018). It is the level of passion about the job and the level of commitment towards the organization in which they work. When employees feel adequately engaged, they will remain loyal to their employer because they enjoy a sense of happiness and satisfaction. Figure 1 below identifies specific positive attributes of employee engagement within an organization.
As shown in the figure above, one of the main benefits of employee engagement is commitment. Such workers tend to be committed to the tasks they undertake because they believe they are valued. According to Promes (2016), that motivation is another benefit of having engaged employees. They love what they are doing and the organizations they work for, and as such, they do not find it a problem to spend extra time just to deliver the best results they can.
Trust is another factor attributed to employee engagement. In the current business environment where competitors are keen on poaching talented employees or stealing critical data from competitors, trust is an important factor that should not be ignored. Having a trusted employee means that they cannot be easily convinced to work for rival firms at the expense of the organization they love. Loyalty is the fourth factor. Once that trust is created, the employee will remain loyal to the current organization and will avoid any action that may be harmful to its ability to achieve sustainable development.
Independent variable 2: Job Satisfaction
When trying to create a happy workplace environment, the management should take into consideration the need to ensure that there is job satisfaction among workers. According to Bendels et al. (2018), job satisfaction refers to the level to which employees feel contented and self-motivated with their job. Such a contented employee would not need to be instructed to undertake a given responsibility that is related to their work. Instead, they will be looking for ways of delivering better results. They rarely work to please the management, earn sympathy or praise from those in authority, or outsmart their colleagues in unnecessary counterproductive competitions. Instead, they focus on delivering the best results because it gives them a sense of job and satisfaction when they register exemplary performance.
Job satisfaction within an organizational setting is defined by various factors. One of them is the alignment of tasks assigned to an employee with their expertise (Sandhu, 2020). It is common to find cases where an employee is assigned a role that is not in line with their skills, experience, and their passion. Such an employee will struggle to achieve success and in most cases may not achieve job satisfaction. However, when they are assigned a role that is in line with their expertise, they will strive to implement what they learned. With every success that they achieve, they will try to push further and register even greater results.
The success that is realized through their skills and experience propels them to seek even greater opportunities in their workplace. Job satisfaction may also originate from the space that employees are granted to try their new skills. When the management creates an environment where workers can test new knowledge without being subjected to punishment or reprimand when they make mistakes, they get satisfied with every milestone they make.
Independent variable 3: Workplace Safety
Occupational health and safety is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on ensuring that workers’ welfare, safety, security, and health are protected at all times (Newman & Newman, 2018). It involves putting measures in place that would ensure that every employee is not subject to any internal or external force that may cause bodily or mental harm while they are in their line of duty. Some jobs such as mining, construction, law enforcement, healthcare, manufacturing, and such other related works pose great occupational risks to the workers. Currently, there is a concern that medical staff may be infected with COVID-19 when handling their patients.
It happened in China where some of the casualties of the pandemic were the medical staff. It has created fear among medical practitioners around the world who feel that they may be at risk of contracting the virus. Law enforcement agencies are also often at risk of encountering fire exchange when dealing with suspects.
When employees feel insecure, they cannot be happy with their work, especially when they face the risk of death or life-changing consequences. As Pauleen (2016) argues, given an opportunity such an employee would consider changing their jobs to something that they feel is safer. When a worker is overly concerned about their security and safety, they cannot deliver the best results. Their attention will be divided between delivering the expected results and protecting themselves. Budhwar and Mellahi (2016) argue that such workers will not be as happy as their colleagues who feel safe in their work. They will develop a combative attitude towards their employers, which may affect their performance. Managers should always address safety and security concerns as a way of maintaining a team of contented and motivated workers.
Independent variable 4: Valued Social Position, Support & Work-Life Conciliation
Valued social position was another major independent variable that directly affects the happiness of workers within a firm. According to Ravitch and Riggan (2017), it is normal for a person to be a compliment for every good work that they undertake. It is also a normal phenomenon for an individual to desire promotion in their workplace, especially if they feel they have the right qualifications and are doing what is expected of them to get to the position of power.
When an organization lacks clear structures and a system that facilitates such promotions based on merit, then those who feel ignored will become unhappy with their work (Guirdham & Guirdham, 2017). They will get less motivated, and their loyalty to the organization will be affected. Some may consider other alternatives such as working for companies where their social position will reflect the benefit they have for the company.
Friends support and work-life conciliation are other important factors that define happiness in the workplace. When an employee is assured of the support of colleagues and those close to them, they will not fear trying new strategies that may have greater potentials than the current practices (Pawirosumarto et al., 2017). The support system makes them feel that they will always be safe in the firm. Work-life balance is equally critical to these employees.
As shown in figure 2 below, one should have adequate time to spend with family, friends, and self while at the same time giving their best to their work (Appelo, 2016). Creating a balance of these factors will make the employee feel valued. They will have time to spend the money they make from their work in activities that make them happy and fulfilled. As such, the management should be careful when requesting employees to spend more time beyond their normal schedule. Whenever they agree to take overtime, they should be adequately compensated as a way of enhancing their level of motivation.
Dependent variable 1: Employee Leadership
The dependent variable in the study was employee leadership, specifically focusing on the ability of women to ascend to positions of power. According to Pisano (2017), scholars have found out that although some individuals are born with unique traits that can make them effective leaders, leadership is largely a learned process. Individuals who have gone through appropriate training gained the right experience, and been provided with the right support can become great leaders. In some cultures, there was a belief that women cannot become leaders. In fact, they were not even trusted with the ability to make the right decision without the guidance of men (Isa et al., 2019).
However, studies and practical examples have demonstrated that women can be excellent leaders. Margret Thatcher was one of the most successful leaders in the United Kingdom. Angela Merkel has been the leader of Germany for over a decade, making her one of the longest-serving leaders of the country in recent times. It means that when offered the right environment, women can become successful leaders.
It takes the effort of the management and other stakeholders to create the right environment for women to ascend to powerful positions. Shimazu et al. (2017) believe that most women do not have the desire to be given any favors to ascend to higher offices. They have the right academic qualification, experience, commitment, and capacity to direct their organizations to success (Salas-Vallina et al., 2018). They feel that they only need the right environment to achieve career growth. They need a system where they are not criticized or subjected to stereotypical sentiments because of their gender. Instead, they desire an environment where everyone is judged based on their capacity to deliver results on their respective assignments. Workplace happiness is a critical factor that defines the ability of these workers to ascend to positions of power, as Serrat (2017) observes.
The previous chapter has provided a detailed review of secondary data collected from various sources. In this section of the paper, the focus is to discuss the methodology that the researcher used to collect and process primary data. It explains the reason why the qualitative approach was chosen, a method that was used to collect data, contact and interview the participants, and the writing of the transcript.
The Use of Qualitative Methods
The researcher considered it appropriate to use qualitative methods in this study. When explaining the relationship between workplace happiness and employee leadership, it was necessary to start by identifying specific factors that determine a happy workplace environment. The approach required a qualitative method to ensure that respondents could provide a detailed explanation of their responses (Boeren, 2018). The use of the qualitative method of analysis meant that the researcher could go a step beyond simple statistics to explain a given phenomenon in detail (Kumar, 2018). It is important to note that some aspects of statistical analysis were also used just to ascertain the relationship between the variables.
Method of Collecting Primary Data
The researcher identified three participants who met the inclusion criteria and were willing to take part in the investigation. It was necessary to collect data from them through interviews. The limited-time meant that the researcher could not physically meet the participants at the right time. As such, it was decided that phone interviews would be the most appropriate method of collecting data from these participants, as Farghaly (2018) suggests. It was a time-saving process for both the participants and the interviewer. The transcripts used in collecting data from these participants are attached to this document.
Contacting, Preparing, and Interviewing the Participants
Once the participants had been identified, they had to be contacted to determine if they are willing and able to take part in the primary data collection. The researcher called each of them explained the significance of the research, and the role they were expected to play in the study. Those who agreed to be part of the investigation had to be prepared before the actual date of data collection. They were informed about the significance of the study and the way they were expected to respond to each of the research questions. It was established that these individuals work in different organizations (ENOC, HCT, and Emirates Post Office). Each participant selected a date they considered appropriate for the phone interview.
Preparing and Validating the Questions
The researcher developed a list of questions when developing the research proposal which was delivered as assignment 1. The list of questions was presented to the instructor who edited them as appropriate before approving them to help in collecting primary data for the study.
Writing Interview Transcripts
The responses obtained from the participants were recorded in the form of transcripts. They helped in understanding how these participants responded to each question. The transcripts for each of the three participants are attached in the appendix of this report as Fraga (2016) recommends.
The previous section has provided a detailed explanation of the methodology used to collect and analyze data in this study. In this section, the focus will be to present the findings of the analysis. As explained above, the primary method of choice was qualitative analysis, with some aspects of quantitative methods to make it easy to present facts of the study. At this stage, it is necessary to restate the hypotheses that were developed in the research proposal. They are the following:
- H1o. There is no direct relationship between happiness in the workplace environment and employees’ satisfaction and performance.
- H1a. There is a direct relationship between happiness in the workplace environment and employees’ satisfaction and performance.
- H2o. There is no direct relationship between employees’ satisfaction/performance and employee leadership.
- H2a. There is a direct relationship between employees’ satisfaction/performance and employee leadership.
- H3o. Women do not flourish in their careers to become successful leaders when they have a happy workplace environment.
- H3a. Women tend to flourish in their careers to become successful leaders when they have a happy workplace environment.
Step 1: Analysis Procedure- Review Data
During the analysis, the primary goal was to reject or accept the above hypotheses to determine the effect of work environment happiness on employee leadership. The researcher used qualitative methods of analysis, with some aspects of quantitative methods to explain the issue under investigation. The procedure started with coding the data, organizing it, categorizing, before conducting an interpretation.
Step 2: Coding process and coding guide
As explained above, the first step was to code the data to make it easy for the analysis process to take place. Each of the independent variables, the intermediate variable, and the dependent variable were assigned a code. The independent variables included employee engagement, job satisfaction, workplace safety, valued social position, friends’ support & work-life conciliation, the intermediate variable was workplace happiness, and the dependent variable was employee leadership as shown in table 1 below.
Table 1: Coding the variables.
|No.||Codes||Variable Type||Study Items|
|4||VP||Independent||Valued social position|
|5||FW||Independent||Friends’ support & work-life conciliation|
Step 3: Organizing Data
The third step involved organizing data to reflect the area of focus after coding the data as shown in table 2 below. In this stage, the researcher was interested in determining the number of respondents who believed that there is a close relationship between the intermediate variable (workplace happiness) and each of the independent variables. Their responses to various questions show that all of them believe that each of the independent variables has a direct impact on the intermediate variable, as shown in the table below.
Table 2: Contingency table of frequency.
|Relationship between independent and intermediate variables|
Step 4: Categorizing Data
It was necessary to categorize the data to help simplify the process of analysis. In this section, the researcher opted to determine the relationship between the variables. As discussed in the literature review section, it was established that the independent variables (EE, JS, WS, VP, and FW) have a directly proportional relationship with the intermediate (WH) variable. It was also suggested that the intermediate variable (WH) directly affects the dependent variable (EL). The researcher needed to confirm this relationship through the analysis of primary data.
Step 5: Interpreting data
The primary data were analyzed qualitatively, but it was necessary to start by conducting a simple quantitative analysis to establish the relationship between the variables. From the three participants, the researcher wanted to determine the nature of the relationship between workplace happiness and employee leadership. Respondents were asked to state whether they believe the two variables are related. As shown in figure 3 below, the three respondents believe that there is a positive relationship between the variables.
Step 6 – Creating Final Construct of Elements
The researcher used qualitative methods to conduct the analysis of primary data obtained from the respondents. One of the factors which were of major interest to the researcher was the identification of factors that affect the workplace environment. The following question was posed to the respondents.
What are the factors that affect the workplace environment?
Participants were able to identify various factors that affect the workplace environment. Participant 3 said, “Budget, job aids, and supervisor support the most facture that might affect the workplace environment.” On the other hand, Participant 1 noted, “Language, age, gender, family status, and nationality.” These factors affect the workplace environment to varying degrees. The researcher then asked the participants to explain how employee satisfaction affects employee leadership.
How does employee satisfaction affect employee leadership?
The respondents were instructed to use their own words to explain the phenomenon in detail. Participant 3 explained, “If employee satisfaction is high, then the leadership duty will increase. When an employee is satisfied with the work environment and got his primary needs then, he/she will have the opportunity to be a leadership employee.” This respondent felt that satisfied employees tend to be more responsible than those who are disgruntled. Participant 1 said, “Work and friendship should never be mixed. If it is work-related, work decisions must be done based on facts and data but never on how my friend will react. This participant felt that it is important to maintain professionalism at all times. The researcher then asked the participants to state, in clear terms, factors that can promote women leadership based on their knowledge and experience.
What are the factors that promote women’s leadership in local organizations?
Respondents identified various factors that they believe have the potential of promoting women’s leadership. Participant 3 said, “Give her the priority for promotion and bones if she deserves. Open all the borders for creativity, change, and development. Supporting and is the most important thing to create the leading local women.” This participant felt that female workers should be offered the opportunity to be creative in their endeavors and provided with the support they need to climb the career ladder. Participant 1 said, “Men and women have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Women have the capacity to balance the situation when things tend to be rough and hard. Most women decide between the balance of facts and practicality.” This participant felt that it is important to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of men and find a way of ensuring that everyone can achieve success irrespective of their gender. Participant 1 stated, “Show the local woman role in the organization also that will increase the number of the woman members in the organization. As well as, hire and promote more women. This respondent felt that local firms have not done enough to hire and promote women. The three participants share the view that the ability of women to become successful leaders depends on workplace happiness.
The Frequency Table
The analysis above shows that participants interviewed in this study feel that happiness in the workplace environment is directly and positively related to employee leadership. Table 3 below shows the view of these respondents when asked this question. All three participants feel that employee (women) leadership is significantly influenced by happiness in the workplace.
Table 3: Relationship between WH and EL.
|WH positively related with EL|
The research was conducted to investigate the effect of workplace happiness on employee leadership. The goal was to determine if a happy environment in the workplace can motivate employees to become successful leaders in their organizations. Of interest to the researcher was to determine how local firms can create an environment where women can become successful leaders in their current places of work. The researcher used about 40 sources to understand the effect that workplace happiness has on employee leadership. From using keywords identified in the abstract of the paper in the review of the literature to the actual primary data collection, the researcher was able to respond to the research question.
Employee engagement, job satisfaction, workplace safety, valued social position, friends’ support, and work-life conciliation have a direct impact on workplace happiness (World Economic Forum, 2020). When workers are offered an enabling workplace environment where their decisions matter when developing policies and they feel respected, their level of happiness will be relatively high. They will have the right motivation to pursue a greater level of success. The primary data also indicated that there is a direct and positive relationship between workplace happiness and employee leadership.
When employees are happy with their work, they tend to be more productive and committed to climbing the career ladder (Osborne & Hammoud, 2017; McKee, 2017). They are less likely to consider pursuing other careers or moving to other companies because of the feeling of contentment that they have. The study shows that in such an enabling environment, women are likely to become leaders in these organizations. They will realize that their gender is not a hindrance to their capacity to become successful leaders (Hojjat & Moyer, 2017; Tasnim, 2016). They will learn to rely on their unique skills and core competencies to rise on the career ladder instead of waiting for appointments that focus on rewarding the perceived weak gender.
Happiness in the workplace environment has emerged as one of the main concerns that organizations can no longer ignore in their operations. The review of literature and analysis of primary data indicates that in the current competitive environment, the performance of an individual employee defines the success of an entire organization. As such, it is crucial to ensure that an enabling environment is created to facilitate the improved performance of all the workers.
The study has identified employee engagement, job satisfaction, workplace safety, valued social position, friends’ support, and work-life conciliation as some of the factors that have a direct impact on workplace happiness. Taking care of each of these independent variables helps in promoting happiness among workers in an organization. Each variable plays a critical role in promoting an environment where workers understand what is expected of them and remain committed to achieving specific organizational goals individual and objectives.
The primary data analyzed in this study established that there is a direct relationship between employee leadership and workplace happiness. When workers within an organization are happy, they tend to perform better and are more likely to become successful leaders in the future. When they realize that their views are taken into consideration when developing organizational policies, they become more responsible and determined to improve their knowledge and leadership skills.
The study strongly recommends creating a happy workplace environment among local organizations as a way of promoting women’s leadership. The government has made a major effort in ensuring that all children, irrespective of their gender, get quality education in the country. Companies and government agencies must now play their role in creating an environment where both men and women can flourish and become successful leaders.
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