Academic journal article Journal of Higher Education

Faculty Members' Morale and Their Intention to Leave: A Multilevel Explanation

Academic journal article Journal of Higher Education

Faculty Members' Morale and Their Intention to Leave: A Multilevel Explanation

Article excerpt

Faculty members are rarely satisfied with their own institutions. They see administrators as incompetent, communication as poor, and their influence as declining (Boyer, Altbach, & Whitlaw, 1994). This discontent with their institutions is in stark contrast to their satisfaction with their intellectual lives, the courses they teach, and their collegial relationships (Bowen & Schuster, 1986; Boyer, Altbach, & Whitlaw, 1994). Faculty members are dedicated to their work and they love what they do, but they often wonder if they would not be happier doing it somewhere else. The extent to which faculty members actually act on their discontent and leave their institutions is an empirical question, but institutions would benefit from a clearer understanding of what contributes to faculty decisions to leave. Turnover is both a blessing and a curse for institutions. Turnover brings in fresh, new hires, often at a lower cost. On the other hand, searches are costly, and too often the faculty who leave are those the insti tution would prefer to retain.

Concerns about retention have generated a number of studies directed toward understanding why faculty members leave or intend to leave their institutions or academia (Barnes, Agago, & Coombs, 1998; Johnsrud & Heck, 1994; Manger & Eikeland, 1990; Matier, 1990; Smart, 1990). These studies have attempted to identify what is important to faculty members in order to explain their decisions to leave. Despite the challenge of faculty retention and the considerable research devoted to faculty worklives, the accumulated work tends to be disjointed. Examinations include attention to faculty satisfaction (Boyer et al., 1994; Olsen, 1993; Olsen, Maple, & Stage, 1995; Tack & Patitu, 1992), the decline in morale (Bowen & Schuster, 1986; Kerlin & Dunlap, 1993; Johnsrud & Rosser, 1999), rewards (Boyer, 1990), and motivation and productivity (Blackburn & Lawrence, 1995; Layzell, 1996). The need remains to reduce the complexity of such constructs as the quality of faculty worklife, to clarify how perceptions of worklife affect such outcomes as morale or satisfaction, and in turn, to determine what contributes to faculty intentions to leave. The purpose of this study is (1) to advance our understanding of the constructs of faculty worklife, morale, and intentions to leave, (2) to examine relationships among these three constructs, and (3) to determine the extent to which these relationships operate within faculty groups (as individuals) or between faculty groups (as institutions).

Conceptualizing Turnover and Intent to Leave

Early turnover studies focused on the motives of individuals within organizations and their decisions to leave (Caplow & McGee, 1958; Flowers & Hughes, 1973; March & Simon, 1958; McCain, O'Reilly, & Pfeffer, 1983; Steers, 1977). Subsequent studies shifted to the impact that organizational and structural variables have on work-related attitudes. Organizational theorists (e.g., Bluedorn, 1982; Price, 1977) developed a model of the process producing voluntary turnover composed of structural, economic, and social psychological variables. They posit a range of antecedents involving how the organization is experienced (e.g., salary, size, integration, communication, centralization, opportunity) that affect intermediate social psychological variables such as job satisfaction, morale, and commitment. In turn, these variables are proposed to affect intended and actual organizational turnover. As Bluedorn notes, the organizational factors the individual experiences include its technology, internal opportunity structure s (e.g., promotion and transfer), and its emergent structures (e.g., rules and regulations, work unit differentiation, centralization) and processes (e.g., communication, decision making, conflicts). Members will react (affectively, cognitively, and behaviorally) in accordance with their perceptions of organizational situations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.