A Case Study Exploring Motivational Determinants of Mid-Level Student Affairs Administrators
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Mid-level administrators comprise the largest group of administrative professionals on college campuses today. These professionals affect the daily lives of students and contribute significantly to the overall coordination of institutional resources and activities. Despite the importance of their role in administering programs, services, and other functions central to the mission of the university, little research has been conducted examining the issues that impact their motivation and job performance. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to increase understanding of the factors affecting work motivation of mid-level student affairs administrators through the identification of motivational determinants and an exploration of whether these determinants differed based on the career stage of the mid-level administrator. This study used Vroom’s theory of work motivation, specifically valence, instrumentality, and expectancy, to determine the factors motivating mid-level student affairs administrators to perform in their work roles. Ten mid-level student affairs administrators at a large, public, Hispanic-serving institution were interviewed. Findings suggest that mid-level student affairs administrators are motivated by the opportunity to serve students and influence the development of their subordinate staff. Participants cited internal drives, such as work ethic and a need for achievement, and external factors, such as opportunities to engage in their own professional development, recognition, and pay, as motivators. Some participants maintained that the culture of the institution had an impact on their motivation to perform. Individually and collectively, these motivational determinants influenced the effort and performance of these mid-level administrators in their work roles. Overall, the participants reported that they enjoyed their work and felt rewarded for their efforts in their work roles. Findings suggest that important differences in motivational determinants as a function of career stage are negligible. Implications and recommendations to implement initiatives to promote and support the identified motivational factors are discussed.
Hernandez, Cynthia Leticia (2010). A Case Study Exploring Motivational Determinants of Mid-Level Student Affairs Administrators. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from