Leadership Impact on Lecturer Retention at University Preparation Programs in Malaysia


  • David St Germain
  • Shelleyann Scott University of Calgary
  • Donald Scott University of Calgary




leadership, work adjustment, cultural adjustment, expatriates, higher education institutions, retention.


Many higher education institutions (HEIs) offer pre-university/foundation programs that help students transition from secondary school to universities, in Malaysia, or around the world. To be globally competitive and meet the needs of students looking to enter world class universities, HEIs in Malaysia often need to employ expatriate lecturers (ELs) (Trembath, 2016). Many ELs choose to depart their institution at the end of their first contract. This can have a negative impact on programs and adds additional recruitment costs to program budgets (Theron et al., 2014). This study’s purpose was to understand the importance of leadership and organizational climate on ELs’ decision to either renew their contract or depart. The objective was to provide the leaders of such programs with insights to help them mitigate the challenges expatriates face and develop a supportive environment that encourages longer-term commitment of lecturers beyond an initial contract.

A convergent, parallel mixed methods research design was used for this study in which 63 participants completed an online questionnaire. In addition, 31 participants also completed a semi-structured interview. The research population for this study included current and former ELs who have worked at university preparation programs at Malaysian HEIs.

Five themes that affect EL retention surfaced from the analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data: (a) professional growth and fulfilment, (b) the direct influence of the leader, (c) institutional factors, (d) cultural adjustment factors (Froese, 2012), and (e) country-specific factors. These key factors have influenced the decision making around contract renewal for ELs at Malaysian HEIs.

Based on the results of this study, The Leadership Model for Expatriate Lecturer Satisfaction and Fulfillment was developed in order to guide program directors in developing a system to foster the conditions that encourage EL retention.

Author Biographies

David St Germain

Dr. St Germain received his Doctor of Education: Educational Leadership degree from the University of Calgary in 2020. David is a certified educator and principal from the province of Ontario, Canada and holds both a Bachelor of Education and Master of Education from the University of Toronto. He has been living in Asia as an expatriate for 17 years. For most of this time, he worked as a lecturer and administrator at Taylor’s College Malaysia. Since 2018, David has been teaching Economics in China at the International School of Nanshan Shenzhen. He is passionate about educational leadership, teacher development, and economics. David has extensive experience delivering professional development workshops for teachers and lecturers. David’s research interests are international secondary and post-secondary teaching and learning, as well as leadership in international contexts. As a strong believer in life-long learning, David is currently working towards a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which he expects to complete in the near future.

Shelleyann Scott, University of Calgary

Dr. Shelleyann Scott (Ph. D.) is a Professor in Leadership, Policy, and Governance specialisation in the Werklund School of Education.  She has held numerous leadership roles within the university context including most recently the Associate Dean, Professional and Community Engagement and Director of Graduate Programs at the University of Calgary. Prior to joining the University of Calgary in 2007, Shelley was the Director and Coordinator of Teaching and Learning at Curtin University Business School, the largest business school in Australia. Shelley has experience in education, government, and business contexts. Her work experience encompasses leadership in an education district office, high school teaching, medical technology, and business consultancy. She has extensive experience as a professional developer and a quality assurance auditor in: Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.

Donald Scott, University of Calgary

Dr. Donald Scott (Ph. D.) is the EdD Program Coordinator for Leadership in Post-secondary Contexts. He is an experienced university instructor teaching within the areas of post-secondary teaching and learning, professional development of teachers and faculty, school and university leadership development, ICT integration, and quantitative and mixed methods research approaches. Dr Scott has been a Science teacher and school/district leader, professional developer, and a consultant to the Western Australian government in relation to their ICT implementation strategies for schools. Dr Scott’s PhD (2009) was in teaching and learning within technology-mediated learning environments with implications for faculty development and institutional leadership.




How to Cite

St Germain, D., Scott, S., & Scott, D. (2023). Leadership Impact on Lecturer Retention at University Preparation Programs in Malaysia. International Journal for Leadership in Learning, 23(1), 107–135. https://doi.org/10.29173/ijll34