Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Management (DMgt)

First Advisor

Ana Maria Reyes

Second Advisor

Lawrence M. Starr

Third Advisor

Rani M. Krishnan


This dissertation examines the concept of digital employee experience in the research administration industry. Using a digital employee experience framework, the study examined how the pandemic impacted the research administration work environment. This dissertation presents perceptions and draws insights from research administration leaders, management, and staff on digital work and digital employee experiences through the pandemic. The dissertation was motivated by three research questions: (1) What challenges did research administrators encounter during the Pandemic? (2) What were the research administrators’ perceptions of digital transformation during their employee journey? and (3) What is the future of research administration as the industry moves forward post-pandemic? Previous literature indicated that the digital employee experience framework was comprised of eight essential components: technology, physical environment, culture, business strategy, leadership, career, brand, and personal. Since the 2020 pandemic began, various studies of digital work environments, digital employee experiences, and remote work have been conducted. However, there have been limited studies of the research administration industry. This dissertation will advance the work of Gheidar and Zanjani (2021) and provide an understanding of the digital employee experience in the research administration community. To study research administration's perceptions of digital work environments and digital employee experiences from a holistic perspective, a sequential mixed methods approach utilizing quantitative and qualitative research methods was selected. During the first phase of the research, the objective was to obtain top-down digital transformation and digital workplace insights by interviewing 11 United States Research Administration leaders. The second phase of the research included surveying 548 research administrators who provided their insights on the digital work environment, digital employee experiences and the future of research administration. The key findings from the research revealed that maintaining team culture in a digital environment is challenging and that leaders must be creative and innovative to maintain the culture of their teams. The Pandemic transformed the landscape of research administration at the team and organizational levels by changing from fully in-person office models to remote and hybrid models. This transformation created challenges and obstacles for management and staff, prompting them to rethink how to perform research administration business in different environments. The study indicated that leadership should invest in Digital Employee Experience tools and practices as we enter this new research administration world. These tools and practices can provide positive employee experiences in a digital environment. In conclusion, RA work must continue to adapt to an ever more digitalized world. Future research should focus on finding ways to maintain culture and gather ongoing faculty research perspectives on the evolution of the digital work environment in research administration.


A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership