Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, Counseling, and College Student Personnel

Committee Chair

Hirschy, Amy

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Gross, Jacob P. K.

Committee Member

Pregliasco, Bridgette

Committee Member

Shuck, Brad


Universities and colleges--Employees; Job satisfaction


This study examined the ability of four groups of factors to predict the job satisfaction levels of fulltime, exempt, professional staff at four institutions of higher education within the associated Colleges of the South consortium. Based on a similar study of professionals in higher education conducted by Smerek and Peterson (2007), this study used hierarchical multiple regression to determine the amount of variability explained by each group of factors according to the conceptual model. The conceptual model for this study, as well as the study by Smerek and Peterson, was based on the theory of Frederick Herzberg (1959), an industrial organizational psychologist who described job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction as disparate variables. Professional staff members received an anonymous web-based survey that measured levels of job satisfaction and collected information on personal and work characteristics. The survey also collected employee responses to two categories of variables – motivator factors and hygiene factors - identified by Herzberg as components of job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction. Results of this survey suggested that four variables accounted for statistically significant portions of job satisfaction – responsibility, work itself, effective supervisor, and recognition. One variable had a negative statistically significant relationship with job satisfaction – core values. The combination of statistically significant factors supports the acceptance of one of this study’s hypotheses, that the Herzberg duality theory of job satisfaction is not supported in a higher education context. The job satisfaction levels of fulltime professional exempt employees in higher education matter; not only have higher levels of job satisfaction been connected to higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness, increases in job satisfaction have been linked to more positive work environments, improved campus culture, higher employee retention and ultimately with institutions identified as “Great Places to Work For.” The importance of job satisfaction in the higher education environment and was the impetus for this examination of Herzberg’s duality theory of motivation. The results of this study are encouraging for leaders in higher education as they suggest opportunities for increasing job satisfaction that may be of relatively low cost while creating high impact.