Academic secretaries: Perspectives of how they influence and are influenced by a university environment as they seek job satisfaction

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Anne Shelly


Secretaries, Job satisfaction, University administration, Job shaping

Subject Categories

Higher Education Administration


This qualitative study focuses on the perspectives of twelve academic secretaries as they seek job satisfaction in a large university setting. It identifies and describes job shopping and job shaping methods the secretaries initiate as they make their jobs conform to their self-image thereby achieving job satisfaction. Major factors in the job satisfaction outcome include the size and openness of the university structure and the 19th century small office design that combine to provide and permit the secretaries' job shopping and job shaping activities. The analytic induction method provided guidelines for conducting the study. Participant observations and in-depth interviews provided the data. Post-data-analysis integration of the study findings into the Barnard-Simon (1950) theory of organizational equilibrium, March and Simon's (1958) propositions related to the theory, Stryker's (1980) symbolic interaction theory and Herzberg's (1959, 1966) motivation-hygiene theory led to the development of a theoretical model: Dynamics of Job Satisfaction. The study finds that job shopping and job shaping may be triggered by either motivator or hygiene factors. Each secretary has a long-range goal, personal baggage (self-perception) and perceived needs to be fulfilled that give individualized meaning to the factors within a job's content and context. The job satisfaction factors (individual's needs and goals) function as a hierarchy depending upon the person's current situation. The decision to continue attempts at job shaping or initiate job shopping depends on the strength of the existing job satisfaction factor deficits. Knowing the individual's goals and needs for job satisfaction and the degree of openness in the organizational structure theoretically enables moving toward predicting whether the person would invest in job shaping or job shopping behavior to seek job satisfaction.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.