Psychological Factors Contributing Towards Individual Work Performance Among Rohingya Refugees and Indonesian Migrant Workers in Malaysia

Mohd Safwan Ghazali
Faculty of Entrepreneurship and Business, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan

Peck-Leong Tan
Arshad Ayub Graduate Business School, Universiti Teknologi MARA


As of 2019, Malaysia has about 1.87 million low-skilled migrant workers, with the majority from Indonesia. Likewise, there are about 180,000 refugees in Malaysia, especially the Rohingya from Myanmar. This study empirically determines whether Malaysia could replace a portion of the lower-skilled migrant workers that Malaysia’s economy depends on with a group of people indispensable by Malaysia by investigating their psychological factors contributing to individual work performance. Hence, this research distributed questionnaires to equal numbers of employed Rohingya refugees (n = 180) and Indonesian lower-skilled migrant workers (n = 180). The data were analysed using structural equation modelling– partial least square (SEM-PLS) method, SMART PLS 2.0 software. The results showed that that Rohingya workers’ resilience attributes strongly influenced individual work performance, whereas self-efficacy attributes were the main contributor to Indonesian migrant’s work performance. There were significant differences between the two types of migrants in terms of path coefficient. Hence, this implies that the impacts of psychological factors differed between various migrants backgrounds. The study fills a significant gap in comparing psychological behaviour between refugees and economic migrants like the Indonesians. In addition, this study clarifies the factors that are more effective in stimulating work performance according to the type of migrants.

Keywords: Refugees, Rohingya, Economic migrant workers, Psychological capital, Individual work performance