Academic journal article College and University

Retention of African American Administrators at Predominantly White Institutions: Using Professional Growth Factors to Inform the Discussion

Academic journal article College and University

Retention of African American Administrators at Predominantly White Institutions: Using Professional Growth Factors to Inform the Discussion

Article excerpt

Abstract This study considers the role of professional growth as a retention methodfor African American administrators at predominantly White institutions. Analysis of a panel of experts utilizing the Delphi technique offered insight into growth-related professional development strategies. The Motivation-Hygiene Theory was used as a framework to guide the analysis of this study in order to connect workers' attitudes and motivation to employee satisfaction. The results reveal that opportunities to learn and grow in one's position are positive factors that contribute to retention.

Institutions of higher and postsecondary education have made advancements in recruiting African Americans; unfortunately retention aspects are not yet paramount (Crase 1994; Holmes, Ebbers, Robinson, and Mugenda 2000; Jackson and Rosas 1999; Loo and Rolison 1986). Discussions centered on the retention of African Americans in predominantly White institutions (PWIS) have intensified with the increasing external pressure of accountability (Cabrera et al. 1999; Powell 1992; Rendon 1994; Turner and Meyers 2000). While the extant literature focused on the retention of African American students and faculty, relatively little is known about retaining African American administrators. Within the last decade, attention has been redirected to consider the retention of African American administrators as a benchmark for institutions' commitment to diversity (Davis 1994; Jackson 2001).

The central purpose of this paper was to explore the concept of retention as it relates to African American administrators1 at PWIS. More specifically, the purpose was to identify professional growth factors that decisionmakers at PWIS can develop to facilitate the retention of African American administrators. This was achieved by utilizing the bifurcated structure of Motivation-Hygiene Theory to extrapolate methods of retention within the two pre-imposed categories: (1) hygiene factors; and (2) motivator factors.

Motivation-Hygiene Theory

The retention of employees is an area of major concern for America (Dobbs 2000). It is not uncommon to hear discussions about employee turnover rates as one of the important issues that must be addressed at board meetings (Hatcher 1999; Lashbrook 1997). Much of these turnover rates have been attributed to job satisfaction, and to how loyal Americans arc to their employers today (Osif and Harwood 1995). Society's confidence in the integrity of the employer and employee relationship has eroded significantly over the past thirty years (Dobbs 1999). Although it is somewhat older research, useful findings on employee satisfaction were used to frame retention for African American administrators (Herzberg, Mausner, and Syndermen 1964). Resulting from this line of research focusing on workers' attitudes and motivation, the Motivation-Hygiene Theory was developed (Herzberg 1979; Herzberg, Mathapo, Wiener, and Wiesen 1974).

The Motivation-Hygiene Theory classifies all human needs as it relates to work into two sets: (1) pain avoidance; and (2) growth. The type of incentives that work distinguishes these two sets of needs. The incentives that satisfy pain avoidance are called hygiene factors because they are maintenance factors and are primarily preventative. These incentives are environmental and external to the job (e.g., working conditions). Incentives that satisfy the growth needs and are internal to the job (e.g., responsibility), are called motivator factors.

Setting the Context

This study is part of a program of research focused on the topic of engagement, retention, and advancement for administrators of color. In an effort to shed light on how decisionmakers at PWIs can retain African American administrators, two studies have attempted to develop recommendations for retention (Jackson 2001; Jackson and Flowers [in press]). Both of these studies used the Motivation-Hygiene Theory to guide the analysis of data. …

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