Professional Staff Descriptions of the Influence of Role and Positional Importance on Job Satisfaction

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Nicholas Markette, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Brianna Parsons, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Derrick Tennial, Ed.D.


Professional staff in higher education are a large and continuously growing body of employees. Over the years, there has been a concern of more and more resources allocated away from educational expenditures and moved to administrative functions. This concern has created more scrutiny in higher education but unfortunately, there is not a great deal of information about professional staff in higher education. What is known is that staff feel in the background and less than other groups. These feelings can lead to large turnover rates and increase expenditures for institutions. Focusing on job satisfaction and utilizing Locke’s range of affect theory, this qualitative, single-site descriptive case study conducted at a large, public research university in Texas explored how professional staff in higher education describe the influence of role and positional importance on staff job satisfaction. Cluster sampling with random sampling divided professional staff into two categories—academic and central department staff—to analyze differences in descriptions. A questionnaire, eight interviews, and the Delphi method were utilized to provide data about these descriptions. Results revealed that staff described this influence through five main themes: expectations, respect, impact/meaningfulness, recognition, and perceptions though academic and central staff described the influence differently. Implications for practices are discussed that could have an impact on the retention and recruitment of professional staff in higher education. Overall, this work adds to the limited body of knowledge about professional staff in higher education.

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