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International Journal of Educational Management
Emerald Article: Job satisfaction: factor analysis of Greek primary school
principals' perceptions
Anna Saiti, Konstantinos Fassoulis
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To cite this document: Anna Saiti, Konstantinos Fassoulis, (2012),"Job satisfaction: factor analysis of Greek primary school
principals' perceptions", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 26 Iss: 4 pp. 370 - 380
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International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 26 Iss: 4 pp. 370 - 380
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513541211227773
Anna Saiti, Konstantinos Fassoulis, (2012),"Job satisfaction: factor analysis of Greek primary school principals' perceptions",
International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 26 Iss: 4 pp. 370 - 380
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IJEM
26,4
Job satisfaction: factor analysis
of Greek primary school
principals’ perceptions
370
Anna Saiti
Harokopio University, Athens, Greece, and
Received 22 December 2010
Accepted 18 May 2011
Konstantinos Fassoulis
University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the factors that affect the level of job
satisfaction that school principals experience and, based on the findings, to suggest policies or
techniques for improving it.
Design/methodology/approach – Questionnaires were administered to 180 primary school heads
in 13 prefectures – one from each of the 13 Greek regions (including the metropolitan area: prefecture
of Attiki, Athens) so that the sample would be representative of the whole country. The first section of
the questionnaire includes the location of each respondent’s school as well as personal and professional
characteristics of the primary school teachers, while the second section asked school principals to reply
to 36 statements that expressed perceptions relating to their level of job satisfaction. These responses
yielded the principal components for factor analysis.
Findings – The results indicate that two factors – the role of superior and school heads’
remuneration, and recognition of the principals’ efforts – which account for 33.27 per cent of the total
sample, seem to be particularly important for school heads’ job satisfaction.
Research limitations/implications – The findings of this study cannot be used to generalize
about the whole Greek education system as it only analyzes a small sample. Therefore, analysis of
additional data from school principals may be necessary for comparison and to reaffirm the results.
Further investigation is also needed in order to isolate the specific elements and significant differences
in school heads’ satisfaction ratings.
Practical implications – This paper would be useful to educational planners and policy makers.
Meeting the school principals’ needs and expectations seems to be a basic component in effective
school leadership. As the school principal’s role is directly related to human resources management
(teachers) and subsequently to child development, the issue of a head’s job satisfaction becomes even
more pressing.
Originality/value – Given that the existing Greek literature on school management does not contain
a substantially detailed discussion specifically on school heads’ job satisfaction, this paper may
contribute decisively to the smoother and more efficient operation of the school unit.
Keywords Job satisfaction, Factor analysis, School head, Primary education, Greece
Paper type Research paper
International Journal of Educational
Management
Vol. 26 No. 4, 2012
pp. 370-380
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0951-354X
DOI 10.1108/09513541211227773
Introduction
The notion of job satisfaction is not easy to understand as it remains a complex concept
and difficult to measure (Mullins, 1996). As Evans (1998, p. 8) explained, “a problem
concerning a teacher’s job satisfaction that demands hard work, is that when referring
to satisfaction without defining the meaning, we fail to clarify that the issues
mentioned are truly satisfactory components of work”. However, it is widely accepted
that job satisfaction is a multi-dimensional concept; a general attitude an individual
has in handling his/her work. The relationship between job satisfaction and work
performance is not very clear since a wide range of factors such as the working
environment, its manner of organization, demography and individual circumstances,
etc., can substantially affect the level of job satisfaction attained by individuals
(Crossman and Harris, 2006; Evans, 1998, p. 23).
School leadership is an important issue that is highly associated with effective
school performance (Edmonds, 1979; Fassoulis, 2001; Fassoulis et al., 2009; Saitis and
Eliophotou-Menon, 2004; Saiti, 2007; Stoll and Mortimore, 1997; Theophilidis and
Stylianidis, 2000) and job satisfaction since, under certain conditions of intense social,
technological and financial change, it helps any organization (particularly a school
unit) to establish competent management. In order for school principals to be able to
successfully fulfill their duties, the school must satisfy certain needs and desires that
they have. The need to keep school heads satisfied with their work is imperative, since
their actions contribute decisively to the smooth and efficient operation of the school
unit.
Taking into consideration that:
.
school management implies the creation and maintenance of a favorable working
environment, necessary for the good performance of the school unit’s members
working for the accomplishment of common educational goals; and
.
the performance of a school head depends, to an extent, on the levels of job
satisfaction derived from practicing the managerial tasks, then the school head
cannot complete this managerial task without knowing the motivation for his
subordinates and the sort of satisfaction he/she derives from his work.
Within this framework, the productivity of a project realized within a school unit
demands, besides other elements, the positive attitude of the principal towards that
specific project. The overall attitude of the school principal towards the work is called
“job satisfaction” (Allport, 1954).
Currently, literature on Greek school management mainly focuses on: the current
legal and institutional framework for the school principal (Poulis, 2007), the role of the
principal at a full-day school (Pyrgiotakis, 2001) and at other school types (Fassoulis
et al., 2008; Iordanides, 2002; Michopoulos, 2004; Saitis and Eliophotou-Menon, 2004;
Stravakou, 2003), the relatively low participation of female educators in high levels of
school management (Kyriakoussis and Saiti, 2006; Mitroussi and Mitroussi, 2009), the
selection methods and training of the school principals (Mountzouri-Manousou and
Daskalopoulos, 2005; Georgogiannis et al., 2005), the way a school head exercises
authority (Saitis, 2007), the school principal’s contribution in creating a favorable
school environment (Gournaropoulos, 2007; Kavouri, 1998), and the identification of
the capabilities a Principal should have (Pyrgiotakis et al., 2001; Saitis, 2007). Hence,
Greek literature on school management does not contain a substantial detailed
discussion specifically on school heads’ satisfaction. However, Papanaoum (1995,
pp. 110-112) supported the view that, on the identification and handling of school
heads’ problems during the exercise of their duties, “heads, in their majority, perceive
their role to be reinforced in terms of prestige and managerial support” and that the
“criticism” they may receive about their work cannot be attributed solely to a lack of
satisfaction, but also to attempts at determining ways of improving their position.
Job satisfaction
371
IJEM
26,4
372
Furthermore, “the need to satisfy the school heads” is considered imperative, “since he
himself should contribute for the effectiveness of the school unit” (Raptis, 2005, p. 130).
This study, based on the factor analysis of principal components, deals with the
level of satisfaction that the elementary school head derives from their work. In
particular, the factors that compose the degree of satisfaction/dissatisfaction that
Greek primary school principals receive in relation to their work are examined. In view
of the above, this study aims to:
.
investigate the factors that affect the feeling of satisfaction of the school units’
management executives in relation to their work; and
.
suggest, according to the results, policies or techniques that would improve
school head satisfaction and hence facilitate the smoother functioning of the
school units.
Data and methodology
Questionnaires were administered to 180 primary school heads. Of those issued, 123
were completed sufficiently for analysis (response rate: 68.3 percent). Since Greece is
divided administratively into 13 regions, a prefecture from each Greek region was
selected (including the metropolitan area: prefecture of Attiki, Athens) so that the
sample would be representative of the whole country. The questionnaire used in the
current research was implemented in the Job Satisfaction Survey ( JSS) in the USA and
is divided into two sections: The first section of the questionnaire includes the location
of the respondents’ school as well as personal and professional characteristics of the
primary school teachers, while the second section asked school principals to reply to 36
statements that expressed perceptions relating to their job satisfaction level. The same
research instrument was adopted by Crossman and Harris (2006) (with slight
amendments) and Saiti (2007) in order to conduct a survey in the UK and Greece,
respectively. Primary school heads were asked to rate the degree of actual or expected
satisfaction by using the following scale: 1 ¼ disagree very much, 2 ¼ disagree
moderately, 3 ¼ average; 4 ¼ agree moderately, 5 ¼ agree very much. The method
that was applied to the original statements of job satisfaction included in the
questionnaire yielded the principal components for factor analysis. The statements
have been reduced to a number of factors, which were rated by school heads, and
organized into groups.
Findings
Demographics characteristics
From the sample of 123 primary school teachers in question, 65.9 percent were men and
34.1 percent were women. The vast majority of the respondents (88.6 percent) were
married. According to the results, 55.3 percent of the primary schools were located in
rural areas, 16.3 percent in semi-urban and 28.5 percent in urban areas. The largest
proportion of the respondents (38.2 percent) was 50 years of age while 37.4 percent was
aged between 41 and 50 years.
In terms of total teaching experience, overall, 37.4 percent had spent between 21 to
30 years in public primary education, 22.0 percent of the respondents between one and
ten years, 21.1 percent between 11 and 20 years, and 19.5 percent had over 30 years’
relevant teaching experience. The majority of the respondents in question, 70.7 percent,
had served at the same school for a period of between one and ten years, while
22.0 percent had served between 11 and 20 years, and just 7.3 percent had served at the
same school for over 20 years.
Main factors of job satisfaction
The application of factor analysis resulted in the extraction of 11 factors that have an
Eigenvalue above 1. Of these, seven factors were selected (see Table I) which account
for 67.68 percent of the total sample. The Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficient was
0.72. Based on the empirical findings, the following factors were extracted:
.
The first factor was the roles of the superior. These were: Superior’s leadership
ability; superior’s recognition for one’s work; unfair treatment of one’s work by the
superior; positive feelings for their superior; and positive feelings for their work.
.
The second factor covered considerations relevant to heads’ remuneration and
rewards for their work. These were: benefits received from heads’ work were as
good as in other organizations; fair remuneration; there were benefits in the
heads’ job which they should have had but did not have; no appreciation of
heads’ work; the benefits package (holidays, working hours, salary, etc.) was
equitable; no heads’ satisfaction in salary increases; and salary increases being
few and far between. The latter item, although it had the lowest loading on the
factor, it was included because it was strongly associated with this factor.
.
The third factor was school heads’ satisfaction from their job and cooperation
among educators. This covered: heads feeling that their job was meaningless;
unappreciated heads’ job; no heads’ satisfaction from their expected performance;
incompetence of their colleagues forcing them to work harder; few rewards for
those who work in the school; bickering and fights among colleagues at work; and
too much paperwork. The latter item, although it had the lowest loading on the
factor, it was included because it was strongly associated with this factor.
.
The fourth factor was the school environment. This covered: the superior’s
emotional support for heads; no full explanation of work assignments; enjoyment
of the work at school; communication with colleagues; lack of clarity in what is
going on with the school; plurality in heads’ work; and heads’ feelings for their
colleagues. The last two items, although they had the lowest loadings on the
factor, they were included because they were strongly associated with this factor.
.
The fifth factor was bureaucracy. This factor included only two statements and
these were: bureaucracy seldom blocked good work; and people in this country
have a high mobility, as in other countries.
.
The sixth factor addressed the possibilities for heads’ promotion. In particular,
these were: high possibility of being promoted when one’s job stood well; no
recognition of heads’ efforts; and heads’ satisfaction with their possibilities for
promotion. The latter item, although it had the lowest loading on the factor, it
was included because it was strongly associated with this factor.
.
Finally, the seventh factor was the schools’ aims. This covered: sense of pride for
their colleagues at work; rules and procedures were obstacles to heads’ work;
little possibility for promotion within school; unclear school goals; and general
school environment. The latter item, although it had the lowest loading on the
factor, it was included because it was strongly associated with this factor.
Job satisfaction
373
IJEM
26,4
Factors
Variables
Factor 1. Role of superior
Superior’s leadership ability
Superior’s recognition for one’s work
Unfair treatment of heads’ work by the superior
Positive feelings for their work
Positive feelings for their superior
Fair remuneration
Benefits received from heads’ work are as good
as in other organizations
No appreciation of heads’ work
There are benefits in heads’ work that they
should have but do not have
No heads’ satisfaction with salary increases
The benefits package (holidays, working hours,
etc.) is equitable
Salary rises few and far between
Heads’ job unappreciated
Heads feel that the job is meaningless
No heads’ satisfaction for their expected
performance
Incompetence of their colleagues force them to
work harder
Too much paperwork
Few rewards for those who work in the
school
Bickering and fighting among colleagues
at work
Superiors giving emotional support to heads
No full explanation of work assignments
Work at school is enjoyable
Communication with colleagues
Not clear what is going on with the school
Plurality in head’s work
Heads’ feelings about their colleagues
Bureaucracy seldom blocked good job
People in this country have a high mobility, as in
other countries
Great possibilities of being promoted when ones’
job stands well
No recognition of heads’ efforts
Heads’ satisfaction with their possibilities for
promotion
Unclear school goals
Rules and procedures constitute obstacles to
one’s work
General school environment
Sense of pride for their colleagues at work
Few possibilities for promotion within school
374
Factor 2. School heads’ remuneration
and rewards
Factor 3. Satisfaction from the work
and cooperation among educators
Factor 4. School environment
Factor 5. Bureaucracy
Factor 6. Possibilities for promotion
Factor 7. School aims
Table I.
Variables included in
each factor and factor
loadings
Loadings
0.821
0.774
20.794
0.730
0.824
0.595
0.712
20.548
20.662
0.491
0.478
20.291
0.497
0.356
0.605
0.310
0.287
0.704
0.473
20.721
20.457
20.332
0.369
0.428
0.298
0.227
0.663
0.662
0.432
0.495
0.213
20.363
0.596
20.254
0.378
20.325
Discussion
While the variables incorporated in the first five factors generally have relatively high
loadings, all the variables incorporated in the first two (except Salary rises that are few
and far between, see Table I) have particularly high loadings. These two factors alone
(the role of superior and school heads remuneration and rewards (recognition) for
principals’ efforts) account for 33.27 percent of the total sample.
The research showed that the ability of the educational directors to recognize and
support the work of the school principals is an important factor in creating a feeling of
satisfaction for the latter. In fact, the recognition of the school heads’ work by their
superiors leads to satisfaction, which in turn: “affects productivity in an indirect way,
creating a feeling of devotion to the institution and to its goals” (Kantas, 1993, p. 111),
and develops a positive and cooperative feeling between managers and subordinates.
This means that the appreciation the school heads receive from the superior is seen as
the most important element for high levels of satisfaction and perhaps, as Rose (2003)
and Weiss (2002) point out, could be the reason for its growing importance in applied
psychology. In order to have good working conditions established between the high
educational managerial levels and the school principals, educational managers in the
upper hierarchy should avoid treating their subordinates unfairly at all costs, since
unfair treatment of a subordinate (such as school principal) leads to dissatisfaction,
which in turn results in an unpleasant school environment.
Empirical results also revealed that school heads relate their job satisfaction with
high remuneration for the tasks carried out, and with the appreciation of their social
status. This result implies that economic reward is not the only determinant of job
satisfaction for school principals. Recognition, encouragement, as well as the uplifting
of morale through acknowledgement of performance and praise, are positive factors in
satisfying school heads and in strengthening their professional devotion to the school
unit.
In addition, results showed that the degree of acknowledgement of a school
principal’s work, the level of cooperation with his/her subordinates and a positive
school environment could affect the level of job satisfaction/dissatisfaction. School
leadership can be considered effective if individuals in the school are satisfied with
their work (Shamir et al., 1993). As Kalogerou (2000, p. 31) has stated, “a person feels
the need to be appreciated for his/her efforts at work and further to feel accepted by
his/her colleagues”. In public education, the acknowledgement of efforts and
performance of a school principal by school community members is a factor that
contributes to heads’ job satisfaction and is an intrinsic motivation (Bouradas, 2005). In
other words, a school has a lot to gain from a head who feels that his/her contribution is
well recognized and rewarded with benefits, such as moral praise and promotion to the
higher levels of educational hierarchy. However, Saitis (2007) found in his research that
Greek primary and secondary education lack the positive recognition and
acknowledgement that should be derived from the educators work. For example,
moral rewards are rarely awarded: for the period 1990-2006, only nine moral rewards
were awarded in primary education for exceptional performance and one in secondary
education (Saitis, 2007). Based on the above, the absence of a positive relation between
effort ! performance ! rewards in the first two levels of Greek education is
confirmed. Also, the reinforcement of a moral rewards and praises system, one that
would further motivate the members of the educational community (both teachers and
Job satisfaction
375
IJEM
26,4
376
school heads) to take initiative in matters concerning their work, seems to be crucially
important.
The establishment of harmonious cooperation between the school principal and the
teachers is associated with school head orientation (managerial or transformational),
and the source of drawing his/her leading authority (Baliou, 2004; Gournaropoulos,
2007). Since leadership is related to motivation, interpersonal behavior and the process
of communication (Saiti, 2003), the school principal is an important element in the
formulation of a positive or negative working environment within a school unit.
Taking into consideration that the work environment and school performance are
associated (Butt et al., 2005; Cockburn and Haydn, 2004; Crossman and Harris, 2006;
Fassoulis et al., 2009; Edmonds, 1979), then the effective performance of a school unit,
as in every social system, is facilitated through the harmonious cooperation between
the principal and the teaching staff, through efficient communication between the
teachers and their students, and certainly when the educators’ personal needs are met.
On the contrary, a depressing and repulsive environment creates feelings of decay and
frustration, has a negative influence on work quality and as a consequence minimizes
the effectiveness of the school unit.
Based on the above analysis, the real and dynamic power of the school environment
creates pleasant and unpleasant feelings within schools, which in turn positively or
negatively influence educators’ performance and consequently students’ achievement.
The findings revealed that the amount of paperwork produced by strongly
administrative systems affects principals’ job satisfaction/dissatisfaction. If we
consider that “the main aim of bureaucracy is the carrying out of standard daily
administrative work” (Fanariotis, 1999, p. 123), then school heads (in cooperation with
the teachers), have many administrative duties, such as: classification and filing,
certificate issuing, updating of office books, filling of lists etc. If those duties were
carried out under a contemporary and effective educational management (e.g. proper
use of technology, clarity of school legislation, simple and brief bureaucratic
procedures etc), the school units’ managerial executives would perform their tasks
better and faster, with minimal financial cost and human effort. On the contrary, if the
above duties are performed under complex and time consuming procedures, these
bureaucratic components cause additional workload and low job satisfaction. A
relevant research (Papanaum, 1995) revealed that Greek secondary school principals
feel dissatisfied, since the current legislative framework makes them feel “lonesome”
and “powerless” within a bureaucratic management mechanism. The results derived
from Hill’s (1994) research are similar and according to them, the main reason for
primary school heads dissatisfaction is the frustration when performing their duties on
the excessive workload. With reference to the reality in Greek schools, the management
system is over-centralized (Eliophotou-Menon and Saitis, 2006; Mitroussi and
Mitroussi, 2009) and, as a consequence, the administrative work causes job
dissatisfaction among school community members – the lack of clarification in
school legislation, as well as the time consuming procedures, create not only an
excessive workload but also, on many occasions, confusion because the numerous
procedures and norms often conflict each other (Eliophotou-Menon et al., 2008; Raptis,
2005). This all points to a need for a simplification of administrative system
procedures, a classification of school legislation, the development of existing
technologies, and the selection and appointment of appropriate management
executives.
The results from the present study reveal that the possibility of promotion in a
higher ranked position with more authority/ responsibility and higher prestige is a
factor that contributes to heads’ job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Previous research
studies (Koustelios, 2001; Koustelios et al., 2004) on Greek physical education teachers’
job satisfaction confirmed the above result. According to Rose (2003) and Mullins
(1996), both the possibility of promotion and the work’s benefits are extrinsically linked
to the reward a job offers. Indeed the research of Zembylas and Papanastasiou (2004)
on Cyprus – a country with similar educational characteristics – showed that
educators are motivated more by extrinsic motivation than intrinsic and that this result
is not compatible with other countries such as Australia and Malta.
In order for the concept of promotion to be “a motivating power” for school heads, a
re-emphasis on the importance of the recruitment and selection process for educational
leaders in Greece is required in order to have the right person placed in the right
position, and attract and retain well-motivated and capable educators (Cockburn and
Haydn, 2004, p. 1).
Finally, school aims seem to positively or negatively affect the school principals’ job
satisfaction. The school, as a social institution, aims at specific goals. School leadership
has an important role to play in the accomplishment of these goals. This happens
because the school principal performs a leading role in addition to the bureaucratic
task they carry out. With their attitude and actions they inspire/encourage their
colleagues and create the appropriate environment for motivating all human resources
in their school.
In practice, school head dynamics derive not only from their abilities, the school
environment and organizational support, but also from their attitude to work, since an
individual’s feelings towards their job depends on the degree of satisfaction the specific
job offers. This is further supported by the results of a relevant research (Chaplain,
2001), according to which school principals claimed that the aspects of their profession
that bring them more satisfaction are related to the professional level, the challenge
and the degree of their success. Based on the latter, high managerial levels in education
should continuously seek for praise and superiors’ encouragement, since while
performing their duties, they are often troubled by doubts and frustration.
Furthermore, educators usually have a higher motivation to achieve a goal when
they play an active role in defining it. They subsequently consider it as their personal
goal.
Conclusions
The purpose of the present research was to identify the factors affecting job
satisfaction for primary schools heads. The application of factor analysis resulted in
the extraction of seven factors (superior’s role, salary and financial rewards,
satisfaction derived from work and cooperation among educators, the school
environment, promotion opportunities and the school’s targets), that affect school
heads’ job satisfaction and as a consequence their attitude to their work.
Considering that: job satisfaction is a multi dimensional concept; there is
heterogeneity between the needs, desires and motives among educational leaders; and
the contribution of a school head determines the accomplishment of the school’s goals,
Job satisfaction
377
IJEM
26,4
378
then the establishment of an objective, planned and systematic approach to the
recruitment and selection of staff, the professional development of educational leaders
on a permanent basis and, finally, the satisfaction of the school principals’ needs, seem
to be the basic components for the enhancement of the school leadership role. This
view is of crucial importance, since the social and financial development of a country
depends on the quantity and quality of the education provided.
The present study is not without limitations. The findings of this study cannot be
used to generalize about the whole Greek education system as it only analyzes a small
sample. Therefore, analysis of additional data from school principals may be necessary
for comparison and confirmation of the results. Further investigation is also needed in
order to isolate the specific elements and significant differences in school heads’
satisfaction ratings. In any debate on how to keep an employee both satisfied and
productive, Rose (2007, p. 379) reminds us that “high job satisfaction is a desirable end
in addition to its possible tonic effects on productivity”. Given that education is the
future of every country and he school principal’s role is directly related to the human
resource management (teachers) and consequently with child development, the issue of
a heads’ job satisfaction becomes even more pressing since it would raise school
efficiency (at least marginally).
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Corresponding author
Anna Saiti can be contacted at: [email protected]
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