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Graduates Employed by Their Alma Mater Share Its Values

Some university teachers, but not all, are involved in their school's affairs and tend to take its failures personally and celebrate its successes as their own. Some teachers are willing to work weekends, help their colleagues and engage in various extracurricular activities, while others stick firmly to their job descriptions and rarely agree to do anything not expressly stated in their contract. According to Andrey Lovakov, Junior Research Fellow at the HSE International Research Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms, what makes a difference between the former and the latter is the level of commitment to their institution determined by a number of factors.

By commitment, Lovakov understands it to mean emotional attachment to the university, when employees identify themselves with the school and share its values. He examined some of the factors contributing to teachers' commitment in his paper ‘Antecedents and Consequences of Organizational Commitment Among Russian University Teachers.

Committed employees are often prepared to go above and beyond what is required of their position, have a positive outlook on their work for this institution and plan to stay with it, and tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement. Every university benefits from keeping its teachers committed as a valuable additional resource in helping it achieve its objectives and compete with other schools.

A survey of 317 teachers in Russian public universities suggests that teachers who have graduated from the institution that currently employs them and those who combine teaching and administrative responsibilities tend to be more committed than others to their employer.

The fact that they have studied there adds to the teacher's emotional commitment to the university, based on shared values and goals – as opposed to a fear-driven commitment to stay where they are to avoid unemployment, for example. Teachers who are former graduates have a longer history with the university, which is often emotionally colored and positive and therefore contributes to their current loyalty and commitment.

In addition, teachers who also hold administrative positions tend to be more committed to the university. It is unclear, however, whether administrative responsibilities cause greater commitment or result from it. On the one hand, committed teachers are more likely to take up extra work and to be appointed to an administrative position, while on the other hand, combining teaching and administrative work gets them even more involved in the university's affairs thus contributing to commitment.

However, combining teaching and administrative responsibilities also has a downside as it can create a conflict of roles, since an administrator's agenda often differs from – or even conflicts with – that of an ordinary employee. If such a conflict occurs, it can negatively affect commitment, since belonging simultaneously to different employee categories makes it more difficult for individuals to identify with the university. Thus, it may be advisable for universities to adopt policies aimed at avoiding such a conflict of roles.

 

Author: Andrey Lovakov, April 02, 2015