In educational settings, substantial scholarly interest has focused on student engagement as an antecedent for educational development and positive school outcomes. Very limited research, however, has focused on the engagement of academic staff members. This may be a crucial oversight because engagement has been argued to lead to more satisfied, more productive and healthier staff. In this study, based on a sample consisting of 489 members of multicultural university departments, we set out to investigate the relationship between trust, conflict and academic staff engagement. More specifically we assessed the effect of group trust, group relational conflict and group task conflict on indicators of behavioural, cognitive and emotional engagement. Our findings show a strong positive association between group trust and all academic staff engagement variables as well as a strong negative association between group relational conflict and all staff engagement variables. Task conflict was negatively associated with indicators of staff cognitive engagement. However, surprisingly, group trust did not have any moderating effect. Implications for educational organisation managers and policy makers are discussed in detail.
Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 2013, Vol 23, Issue 1