Trust or Self-Determination: Understanding the Role of Tenured Faculty Empowerment and Job Satisfaction

Jon McNaughtan, Dustin Eicke, Russel Thacker, Sydney Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Faculty job satisfaction is critical to the success of students and institutions of higher education. Satisfaction of faculty has often been tied to the autonomy of faculty to complete their work with many faculty viewing themselves as independent contractors whose roles and identities are separate from the institution’s, but the implications of this mentality are scarcely understood. This study applies the empowerment framework which encompasses constructs like trust and self-determination to enhance understanding of the relationship between faculty’s perception of their level of empowerment and job satisfaction. Utilizing the empowerment framework, we provide insight on how the multiple dimensions of faculty empowerment are associated with job satisfaction. We employ a confirmatory factor analysis to develop a structural equation model (SEM) that can account for the relationships between empowerment and job satisfaction. Our sample includes associate and full professors (N = 913) from 20 states and findings indicate that the trust and personal consequence constructs within the empowerment framework are most salient. It is intended that this research will inform both faculty and higher education administrators on specific dimensions of empowerment which should be emphasized for achieving job satisfaction to promote the success of faculty and the students they serve.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-161
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Faculty
  • empowerment
  • job satisfaction
  • leadership
  • structural equation modeling
  • trust


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