Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Stone, James R.

Author's Keywords

Job embeddedness; Extension service; Extension agents; University of Kentucky; Kansas State University


Employee retention; Labor turnover; Job satisfaction


Job embeddedness theory, as introduced by Mitchell, Holtom, Lee, Sablynski, and Erez (2001), offers a method of discovering why people stay in an organization. By analyzing the construct's three dimensions (links, fit, and sacrifice) within community and workplace contexts, an overall level of embeddedness was determined and then used to examine retention among Extension agents (N = 454) in the Kansas and Kentucky Extension Services systems. An Internet-based survey was used to gather background data and responses to various scales (embeddedness, job satisfaction, organization commitment, engagement, intent to stay, and discretionary effort). Research questions were examined through the use of correlations, analyses of variance, and linear regression analyses. This dissertation is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 gives a historical overview of the problem of retention. Chapter 2 examines the major theories that scholars have used to explain retention and the factors that influence it; particular attention is given to job embeddedness theory. Chapter 3 contains a discussion of the research design, study population and sample, sampling procedure, instrumentation, and datacollection procedures. Chapter 4 presents the results of the study. The chapter presents the main analysis and more specific analyses by the study population's demographics (including comparisons of nonrespondents, respondents, and late respondents). Chapter 5 provides a summary of the study; a discussion of the results; implications for theory, research, and practice; and a discussion of the study's limitations. In summary, Kansas and Kentucky Extension agents reported significantly different levels of job embeddedness over the study period. Regression analyses showed that job embeddedness was significantly correlated with and predicted unique variance in intent to stay. An examination of the participants' background characteristics showed that age, education level, and geographic state of employment significantly influenced certain components of job embeddedness.