Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instruction & Curriculum Leadership

Committee Chair

Craig Shepherd

Committee Member

Andrew Tawfik

Committee Member

Caitlin Porter

Committee Member

Melissa Cater


The cooperative extension service (CES) is facing a county-level 4-H agent retention problem. Over the last decade, national retention rates of county-level extension agents have decreased at an alarming rate. CES organizations nationwide have identified retention of 4-H agents as a problem because turnover costs to extension organizations are high. County 4-H program productivity is interrupted, and program sustainability is uncertain. Retaining county-level 4-H agents helps sustain local educational programming for 4-H youth and their families. The lack of CES research exacerbates this problem in identifying specific strategies to keep county-level 4-H agents from the view of the Southern region, county-level 4-H agents themselves. County-level 4-H agent retention was examined through the lens of organizational support theory (OST) and its construct, perceived organizational support (POS). This cross-sectional survey, predictive correlational study explores if any relationships exist between 4-H agents' gender identity, tenure, perceived organizational support, perceptions of organizational politics, direct supervisor support, affective organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention. The predictor variables used in this study were antecedents of POS, including perceptions of organizational politics and perceived supervisor support. The dependent, or criterion, variables were POS and outcomes of POS, including affective organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention. The data collected was analyzed using both hierarchal multiple regression and linear regression analyses to determine the predictive power of several variables. The study found that Southern region 4-H agents' perceived organizational support can predict affective commitment, job satisfaction, and turnover intention. The study also discovered three new factors of perceived organizational politics among Southern regional county-level 4-H agents. The implications of practice from this study include recommendations for the Southern region CES administration to strengthen POS among county-level 4-H agents. Focusing on new hires is essential, as POS is established early in a career. Also, the CES administration is encouraged to examine their organizational culture for political behaviors that may negatively impact employees' POS, affecting their turnover intention. Lastly, the administration is encouraged to administer the SPOS instrument to examine the current level of POS among county-level 4-H agents in their state. The CES field is encouraged to continue investigating POS among county-level 4-H agents to determine what antecedents affect agents' POS. Also, the CES administration should evaluate the psychometric properties of the POPS instrument with the county-level 4-H agent population to further explore the factors that emerged in this study.


Data is provided by the student

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access