Work Efficiency Of The Port Health Employees; An Outcome Of Creativity And Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Risk Taking Behaviour

Project and Seminar Material for Psychology

Project and Seminar Material for Psychology


Chapter One


Introduction

The recent outbreak of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria placed a high demand on the work efficiency of the Port Health Services Employees in all the ports of entry to Nigeria. Employees of the Port Health Services of the Nigeria Ministry of Health were on the spotlight as it was discovered that the Virus got into Nigeria through one of her international airports owing to the inefficiency of the port health employees at the screening points. The discovery of EVD in Nigeria created a need to investigate the work efficiency of the Port Health Services arm of the Federal Ministry of Health because according to Solow (1957), efficiency can be said to be very important in organisational effectiveness.

Efficiency simply implies that an organisation has achieved the maximum amount of output that is physically achievable with current technology, and given a fixed amount of inputs (Diewert & Lawrence, 1999). Efficiency simply refers to the ability to be productive. This implies that improving efficiency is fundamental to increasing the organisations economic performance. The effort to make distribution of resources more efficient is becoming very important due to the massive growth in population. Robbins and Coulter (2005) posits that employee efficiency has been a major determinant of a good job performance. They went on to argue that efficiency is the ability to produce the most amount of output from the least amount of input. According to them, organisational effectiveness is dependent on high efficiency because efficiency is a means to meeting organisational goals. Work efficiency is a variable that has been studied as part of employee productivity until Taormina & Gao (2009) claims that work efficiency can be investigated independently of productivity. Similarly, Diewert and Lawrence (1999) claimed that Efficiency is a very important factor to consider in organisational productivity. However, efficiency of the employee depends on a number of factors such as the nature of work, the work environment, the employee personal characteristics and some environmental characteristics (Stigler, 1976) One important task for psychologists and human resources managers is how to make an employee to be efficient in order to improve the overall efficiency of the organisation and increase the organisations competitive edge in the modern economic environment. Taormina & Gao (2009) posits that organisations intending to attain high effectiveness desires high efficiency from their employees. In this regard, work efficiency being a new variable in psychological literature has not been extensively studied, however a limited number of studies such as Paul (1967) had actually introduced the concept of work efficiency in their investigations. It is noteworthy that the studies which introduced work efficiency had not actually investigated the unique contribution of psychological factors such as creativity and risk taking behaviour on efficiency.

The emergence of Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa and particularly Nigeria, requires strategies that will counter its spread. This has made the job of the Port Health Services a very important role for the nation. Port health services are concerned with disease surveillance which includes; Immunization and Issuance of International Health Certificate (Yellow Card), health response to disasters such as EVD, plane crash, bomb explosions, terrorism, boarding and inspection of ships, aircrafts and road vehicles. Similarly, port health services also carry out environmental services which includes; environmental health activities such as sanitation, pollution control, waste disposal etc, disinfection and decontamination of conveyances. At other times, port health services is concerned with provision of curative and preventive health care services including referral and laboratory service, ad-hoc activities e.g. hajj operations, screening of refugees, deportees. Due to the discovery of this virus, the job of the port health services employees became prone to risks. These employees come in contact with the virus directly or in directly and they are can also be agents of its spread. To this end, there becomes a need to investigate the risk taking behaviours of port health services employees in relation to Ebola virus disease (EVD). Specifically, a case of the dreaded ebola virus disease was reported in Nigeria in 2014. This incidence was acclaimed to have occurred to negligence and low levels of work efficiency on the part of port health services employees who were unable to detect that the carrier of the virus; Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian American who brought the virus to Nigeria through the Murtala Mohammed international airport Lagos, was actually suffering from the disease. Some Nigerians even claimed that the port health services employees were not creative otherwise the situation would have been avoided.

This assumption based on observation implies that creativity may be implicated in work efficiency. creativity is a construct that has been defined and studied by some researchers such as Albaum & Baker (1977), Amabile (1983) Zhang & Bartol (2010). However, creative traits, abilities and peoples’ belief about their creativity are different (Furnham, Zhang, & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2006). This has made the study of creativity across domains a challenge to researchers (Kaufmann, 2012). One alternative as put forth by (Kaufmann, 2012) has been to look at how people view and report their own creativity. Generally, layperson perceptions of the construct of creativity tend to be close to expert opinions (Sternberg, 1985). According to Zhang & Bartol (2010), employee creativity involves producing novel and useful ideas for organisations including processes, products and services. This has made creativity to be a very important consideration in assessing employee work efficiency and performance. Creativity provides an organisation with competitive advantage by generating, deploying, transferring, and integrating new technological knowledge (Ángel & Sánchez, 2009). Similarly, Montag, Maertz, & Baer, 2012) claims that engaging in behaviours conducive to creative outcomes is an integral part of professional role requirement. The identification of key factors that can foster, influence and sustain employee’s engagement in creative behaviours, therefore, is a major factor to consider (Manolopoulos, 2006; Zheng, Khoury, & Grobmeiher, 2010). Furthermore, the increasing challenging work environment of the 21st century has made employers to be involved in an unpredictable and technological change resulting to efficiency which is dependent on creativity (Shalley & Gilson, 2004). Thus creativity has become a very pivotal factor of interest to employers as they have realized the importance of encouraging their employees to be creative (Shalley & Gilson, 2004). Employee creativity has also been indicated in organisational outcomes such as innovation, effectiveness, efficiency and survival. (Amabile, 1996; Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004). Today more than ever, organisations are trying to blend creativity and efficiency. This is timely as it helps in productivity (Wagner, 2005).

Finally, Taormina and Gao (2009), concludes that efficiency is a means to achieve organizational goals, therefore high efficiency should be desired by management for their organizations to attain high effectiveness.


1.1: Background of the study

Work efficiency was first introduced by Taylor (1911) in his time-and-motion studies when he attempted to determine the best way of reducing time and effort in the production of a commodity. This is an attempt at improving employee efficiency because efficiency results to a reduction in time and effort and also, better use of work time could bring about greater operational efficiency. Taormina and Gao (2009) went further to highlight that efficiency involves getting the most output from the least amount of input. This implies that organisations should be concerned with work efficiency as it may be cost effective and instrumental to an increased productivity, because efficiency is included in work performance which is instrumental to desired organisational outcomes (Maxham, Netemeyer, & Lich- tenstein, 2008).

Consequently, it is becoming increasing important to investigate work efficiency since work efficiency has not been sufficiently examined, and the factors contributing to its existence remains unclear. In the standard efficiency literature, organisations are assumed to choose a plan that minimizes costs, given its output mix and input prices or that maximizes profits given the prices of its inputs and outputs. However, recent research (e.g., Hughes, Lang, Mester, & Moon, 2000; Hughes, 1999; Hughes, Lang, Mester, & Moon, 1999; and Hughes, Mester, & Moon, 2001) have demonstrated that managers maximize their utility, which is a function of risk. To the extent that decisions affect risk which ultimately influences efficiency and performance.

Organisations in the 21st century have diverse environments with a range of organisational processes (Fineman, 1993; Brief & Weiss, 2002; Barsade, Brief, & Spataro, 2003). However, recent work on organisational outcomes has indicated the influences of such factor as efficiency (George, 1991; Staw & Barsade, 1993; Staw, Sutton, & Pelled, 1994). According to Amabile, Barsade, Mueller and Staw (2005), “relatively less attention has been paid to organizational creativity as a work outcome”. Creativity is the process of “coming up with fresh ideas for changing products, services, and processes so as to better achieve the organization’s goals (Amabile et, al 2005). Similarly, Fesharaki, Fesharaki & Allameh (2012) agreed that efficiency and effectiveness of management means the manager’s ability to prepare, develop, allocate, maintain and use of resources. This requires accurate information about human resources as a vital resource of any organization.

Creativity on the other hand, has been a variable that has generated lots of controversy regarding its definition. Creativity has been defined as useful novelty (Amabile, 1996; Oldham & Cummings, 1996; Robinson & Stern, 1997; George & Zhou, 2001; Zhou & Shalley, 2003). However, Wei, Robert and Taormina (2011) posit that “there has been a growing consensus among creativity researchers regarding the appropriateness of defining creativity in terms of an outcome”. Amabile (1988) believes creativity should involve an outcome in terms of an idea or product. Specifically, Amabile (1988) defined creativity as the “production of novel and useful ideas”. Creativity also has not been studied extensively in psychological literatures (wei et, al,. 2011). Creativity is not a job specific variable as it can be relevant at any level of the organisation (Madjar, Oldham, & Pratt, 2002). However some researches on creativity has found that work climate factors were significantly related to creativity (e.g, Rasulzada & Dackert 2009).

Furthermore, it is noteworthy that improving creativity is very important for organisational sustainability (Amabile, 1988; Burnside, 1990; Shalley, 1995). Similarly, Crant (2002) assert that creativity of employees is one of the effective options on organization performance In today’s world. This can be attributed to the reason why the effect of social environment on creativity remains non-negotiable. The dynamic business climate of the 21stcentury, laden with gross competition has created a need for creativity and innovation. Creativity has thus become a vital ingredient for sustainable development of organisations as organizations need to unleash their employees’ innate creative potential, because employees’ creative ideas can be used as building blocks for organizational innovation, change, and competitiveness (Amabile, 1988; Woodman, Sawyer, & Griffin, 1993; Zhou & George, 2003). Against popular misconceptions that creativity is domain specific, creativity can be employed in a vast array of disciplines to achieve a wide amount of positive outcomes. In other words, creativity can be important at any level of the organisation (Madjar, Oldham, & Pratt, 2002). Although it is undeniable that creativity stems from individual ability, whether or not individual creativity is activated, exercised, and channeled into a final product or service is a function of the work environment, or the contextual characteristics that may be involved in stimulating and supporting creativity (Amabile, 1988, 1996; Lubart, 1999; Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004). When employees exhibit creativity at work, they generate novel responses that are useful in dealing with the tasks at hand (Amabile, 1983, 1996).

Moreover, the recent epidemic of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has increased the likelihood that travelers to EVD-affected countries will be exposed to infected or ill persons. This is making the risk of infection for residents and visitors in the affected countries through exposure in the community a prime area of concern in order to safeguard the health of people living in these countries. Employees of port health services are thereby at risk of exposure to this dreadful disease and the Residents and visitors to the affected areas run a risk of exposure to EVD in healthcare facilities. In Nigeria, the ability to control the spread of this virus rest on the onus of the Federal Ministry of Health through the port health services because the level of risk is related to the efficiency of the port health services employees in combatting the spread of the virus. This has placed a high demand on the job of the port health services employees as they are expected to be highly created and innovation in the administration of their duties in other not to get infected with the virus in the line of duty. However, Nigeria has been pronounced free from EVD. To this end, as the epidemic is still evolving, it is expected that a very efficient work force in the port health services will be highly instrumental to keeping Nigeria safe from the dreaded EVD.


1.2: Statement of the problem

Safeguarding a nation is not a task relegated to the military alone but a collective responsibility with everyone having a role. The role of the Federal Ministry of Health Port Health Services in safeguarding Nigerians is one that cannot be overlooked. This is because, the major airports and seaports in Nigeria need to carefully screen for diseases. Millions of people travel daily from one location to another all over the world and this had made the need to prevent the spread of diseases a major concern in International Health. The control and prevention of communicable diseases in a migrating population is a sole function of Port Health officers who are the first contact to anyone entering the country frontier be it air, land or water. These employees therefore play a very important role in the international control measures for cross-border or trans-boundary transfer of diseases.

Port Health Services in Nigeria started in 1925, in response to the plague pandemic, unfortunately, not much empirical work has been done regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of Nigeria Port Services employees. The Port Health Services is deployed through a division in the Public Health Department of the Federal Ministry of Health. Port Health Services will provide and ensure the implementation of guidelines for cross border monitoring of EVD, especially in riverine areas and states with international borders. The past few decades have seen the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases. The emergence of “new” infectious agents such as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever and the re-emergence of cholera and plague in South America and India, respectively. This has necessitated the need for an applied study on the factors that are major determinants of efficiency among employees of Port Health Services so as to prevent the spread of theses communicable diseases into the country. While previous studies mostly on efficiency focus either on cost efficiency (e.g. Kwan & Eisenbeis 1997, Berger & DeYoung 1997, Williams 2004, Altunbas, Carbo, Gardener & Molyneux., 2007) or profit efficiency (Berger & Bonaccorsi, 2006), there remains a dearth of relevant studies on the determinants of work efficiency as a complex variable especially among a unique sample such as port health and this has created a gap in knowledge.

Efficiency levels may be dependent on risk (Fiordelisi , Marques-Ibanez & Molyneux, 2010), in what Berger and DeYoung (1997), and Williams (2004) have concluded to lead to poor performance. Gibss (2000) asserts that environments that attract, motivate and retain hard-working individuals will be better positioned to succeed in quality and efficiency. This is to say that the nature of job is a very important factor to consider in investigating work efficiency. In this regard, the nature of the job performed by port health officers remains a major factor to consider in relation to the level of their efficiency. The duties of these officers sometimes get risky due to the fact that some passengers consciously will try to infect them with diseases. This makes creativity important in the performance of the employee role. Port health officers who are creative can still perform their jobs within the required time frame and remain efficient with no risk to their lives and health.

Most studies on creativity investigated personal characteristics, such as personality and cognitive ability, and on the creative few individuals (Feist, 1998; McCrae & Costa, 1997; Tierney, Farmer, & Graen, 1999). However, attention has shifted away from the individual focus and the creative few toward the integrative view (Sternberg & Lubart, 1999; Zhou & Shalley, 2003). Unfortunately, the blend of creativity and risk taking behaviour remain to be investigated.


1.3: Significance of the study

The significance of this study is to cause a provide an understanding of the factors that may have led to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria which was generally assumed to be caused by inefficiency in the part of Port health services employees. To achieve this, the study has a main objective of investigating creativity and Ebola virus disease risk taking behaviour as predictors of work efficiency among port health services employees in Nigeria.

The study also looks at the following specific objectives:

  1. To examine the role of Ebola virus disease risk taking behaviour and creativity in the work efficiency of Port health services employees.
  2. To determine the level of creativity of port health workers that enhances work efficiency.
  3. To investigate the relevant personal characteristics that are instrumental to the work efficiency of port health employees.

Findings from this study will be relevant in providing information to policy makers regarding factors to consider in improving the efficiency of the Nigeria port health services. Similarly, the study will be instrumental to identify the relevant personal characteristics of port health employees that can be channeled into training sessions. Furthermore, the study will indicate the amount of risk that can still be employed in the performance of the employee duties.


1.4: Scope of the study

This study covers the Lagos state Headquarters of the Port health services unit of the Federal Ministry of Health. The findings from this study will be generalized on all port health services employees across the country and by extension all health workers in Nigeria and beyond.


1.5: Operational definition of variables

Work Efficiency:

In this study, work efficiency will be described as the ability of an employee to be able to be creative and complete a well-defined job role within the allotted time and with minimal risk. Work efficiency will be measured by a five item scale constructed and validated by the researcher which includes some items adapted from Gao and Taormina’s (2002) measure of employee work efficiency. The pilot study for the instrument established strong psychometric property (α = .69). sample item for the instrument includes, “My relationships at work promote my work efficiency” and “ I make efficient use of my time at work”

Employee Creativity:

Employee creativity is a process that involves creation of novel ideas that are instrumental to the performance of an employee job. In this study, employee creativity will be measured using a 12 item scale developed and validated by the researcher with some items adapted from Zhou and George (2001). Zhou and George (2001) reported the reliability of their instrument to be highly reliable. (Cronbach’s alpha = .96). However for the present study, the scale was revalidated for use in the present populations to establish strong psychometric property (α = 73).

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD):

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

Risk:

Risk is a situation that involves exposure to danger

Risk Taking Behaviour:

Risk talking is a process whereby an individual consciously or unconsciously involve in certain behaviours that will expose the individual to threats on life.

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Risk taking behaviour:

EVD risk taking behaviour of employees in this study refers to the behaviours of employees that expose them to chances of contracting EVD in the course of performing their job roles. In this study EVD risk taking behaviour will be measured with a nine item EVD risk taking behaviour scale adapted from HIV/AIDS risk taking behaviour scale by the National center for biotechnological information. After pilot study to establish the reliability of the instrument, the scale was found to be very reliable (α = 79).

Port Health Services:

Port Health Services is an arm of the Federal Ministry of Health that is concerned with the spread of communicable diseases through the major airports and seaports in Nigeria

Airport:

In this study, an airport will refer to a location with facilities to store and maintain aircraft, and a control of commercial and private aviation flights to take off and land.

Seaport:

A seaport is the maritime equivalent of an airport. It is a location which involves ships harbor and dockyard where ships are maintained loaded and offloaded.


1.6: Theoretical framework

Psychologists generally assume that motivation has a fundamental role in achieving efficiency at work through creativity (Amabile, 1983, 1996; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Efficiency at work will therefore ultimately lead to improved Performance (Diewert & Lawrence, 1999) However, there are some personal and psychological variables which may be responsible for how efficient the employee is. This section will provide a review of some theories that helps to explain some of these variables which were investigated in this study.


Work Efficiency Of The Port Health Employees; An Outcome Of Creativity And Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Risk Taking Behaviour


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