Kevin Moberg

Date of Award

December 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Zarrina Azizova


While tenure-track job options have been decreasing in higher education, tenure remains one of the most influential variables in the faculty reward structure. This research project aimed to understand the experience of organizational commitment of early-career tenure-track faculty members prior to earning tenure. Particularly, the project investigated which factors such faculty members considered to be important when deciding to remain at or leave their university and how they applied their meanings of those factors in their decision making process of whether to commit to their institution of employment. The qualitative data for this project were collected through in-person interviews with early-career tenure-track faculty at a regional four-year university in the Midwest. Although participants shared that the possibility of tenure had played a role in their decision to accept employment at the university, most did not consider it a stronger reason to remain at the university than other factors, such as a sense of affiliation with the university due to interpersonal relationships with colleagues and students, the perception of the community as one with benefits for self and family, and a sense of reciprocal commitment from the institution and the state’s overall system of higher education. Meyer and Allen’s (1991) three-component model for conceptualizing organizational commitment provided a framework for understanding participants’ experiences. This study’s findings indicate opportunities for further study of Meyer and Allen’s three components, including how the stay-or-go decision making process is affected by the lack of certain antecedents to affective commitment, by particular emotional responses that affect continuance commitment, and by interpersonal factors that lead to a sense of collegial obligation and normative commitment.