Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Alan B. Henkin


Organizational commitment has been a topic of extensive interest in the organizational behavior literature since the 1950's. It has been associated with workforce stability, decreased absenteeism, organizational citizenship behaviors, and decreased turnover. This study focuses on the relationships between organizational commitment and turnover; particularly amongst K-12 school principals. A principal of a school is much like the CEO of a company. Principals impact schools in many ways. They supervise staff, develop culture, implement and enforce rules, guide instruction and ensure that all students receive a quality education. The United States is facing a shortage of principals. Many principals are nearing retirement age. Others are simply choosing to leave the profession. In many cases there are shortages of applicants and/or qualified candidates for available positions. Many teachers hold administrative credentials but, for various reasons, choose not to pursue the principalship. School systems are facing difficulties filling principal positions. One potential solution is to endeavor to keep current principals on the job. Organizational commitment is highly correlated with intent to stay; promoting the suggestion that schools may retain principals for longer periods where organizational commitment is significantly higher.

This study focuses on the impact of job autonomy, psychological empowerment, and distributive justice on organizational commitment. The study uses data from a web-based survey of 1,078 principals. The data were collected from K-12 principals in the Midwest United States. The sample includes elementary and secondary principals from public, private/parochial schools, and charter schools. Hypotheses regarding the impact of job autonomy, psychological empowerment, and distributive justice on organizational commitment were tested using multiple regression and path analysis. Increases in each of these variables were found to be significantly associated with increases in organizational commitment. In addition, some support was found for the moderating effects of distributive justice and demographic variables on the relationship between job autonomy and organizational commitment, and on the relationship between psychological empowerment and organizational commitment. Implications for those who supervise principals are discussed. For instance, principals may be provided latitude and discretion in terms of the scheduling and sequencing of supervisory work, and may employ consultative, mutual-means approaches in principal evaluation. School systems should, moreover, provide appropriate professional development in order to increase feelings of self-efficacy. Recommendations for future research are also suggested, including replicating the study in other regions and with other organizational types, as well as including other variables, such as perceived organizational support, resistance to change, conflict, and teamwork.


Distributive Justice, Job Autonomy, Organizational Commitment, Principals, Psychological Empowerment, Turnover


2, x, 136 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 117-136).


Copyright 2012 David Joseph Dude