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The effect of fixed-term contracts on rural secondary teachers.

Casualisation has become commonplace in the workplace (Nelson & Tonks, 2007). In the area of teaching the most common form of casualisation has become the fixed-term contract (FTC) (Craven, 2000). In the State of Victoria, 75% of first year teachers are placed on an FTC. Further, 60% of teachers who have been teaching for three years are still on contracts. Introduced in Victoria in 1993, the number of government teachers on FTCs in 2007 was 19% (Smith, 2007). There is also evidence that some beginning teachers may be quite accepting of taking up an FTC (Smithson & Lewis, 2000). Other arguments regarding FTC teachers centre on the insecurity associated with such an employment status.

In Victoria, as in other states of Australia, the restrictions placed upon principals' hiring capacities by the Department of Education and Early Childhood (DEECD) may create obstacles to schools procuring or retaining quality teachers. Whilst talented FTC teachers may be highly valued by the school, balancing the staffing requirements may lead to them being "let go". In rural schools, the situation for the FTC teacher and principal may be worse. True, some teachers may be happy to return to their country origins (Roberts, 2004), but for those from other locations, the idea of packing up and moving to a new country region with no guarantee of future employment, may not be enticing. The volume of literature and research on this area however, is quite limited and warrants extension.

This research aims to follow up the earlier work of Feather and Rauter (2004) who investigated organisational citizenship behaviours (OCB), job insecurity, organisational commitment, organisational identification, job satisfaction and work values of a sample of 101 permanent and 53 contract teachers in Victorian public schools. Since there is evidence that it is difficult to attract teachers to rurality (Boylan & McSwan, 1998; Roberts, 2004; Sharplin, 2002), and differences between permanent and FTC teachers may therefore be exemplified, it has been decided to sample teachers from rural schools of likeness as designated by the DEECD Victoria: similar demographics, rurality, and population. It has also been decided to only research the secondary schools. This study also aims to extend the Feather and Rauter study by investigating any possible links between work values, job satisfaction, commitment to the school, and reduction in intentions to leave.

There are continuing problems involved in staffing schools effectively (Craven, 2000; Lonsdale & Ingvarson, 2003). Principals need flexibility, whereas teachers favour job security (Feather & Rauter, 2004). Schools need staff to be functioning productively. If FTC employment results in negativity of work attitudes, such as commitment to the school and the carrying out of OCBs, productivity may be reduced (Grimmer & Oddy, 2007). For schools employing teachers on FTCs, failure to recognise and respond to any differing attitudes and needs may be directly related to school effectiveness and hence student development.

To highlight the impact of FTCs in Victorian Government Education, in September of 1999 the percentage of Victorian Government teachers on FTCs reached 19.6%, about one fifth of all teachers (Teacher Supply and Demand Report, Victoria, 2006). The situation became such that in March of 2000, discussions between the Victorian Department of Education and the Australian Education Union resulted in an announcement by the Minister for Education that the majority of FTC positions would be phased out by the end of that year, and that the FTC positions, where possible, would be transferred to permanent positions (Delahunty, 2000). In 2007, the percentage of teachers on FTCs in Victorian Government Schools was still around 19% (Smith, 2007).

There is a critical teacher shortage in Victoria. Reports claim that in Victoria alone there is an existing need for 3,220 new teachers each year (Lonsdale & Ingvarson, 2003; Smith, 2007; Teacher Supply and Demand Report, 2006). Some 46% of schools reported difficulties filling teacher vacancies (Rout, 2007), with an especially alarming shortage of secondary teachers in the Mathematics, Science, Languages Other Than English (LOTE), and Technology areas as reported by Lonsdale & Ingvarson. One in five schools reported that they have staff teaching in areas outside their qualified domains (Roberts, 2004). Many principals have had to remove subjects from their school's curricula since they do not have, and cannot attract, suitably qualified staff to their schools.

One of the difficulties associated with studies on FTCs has been its confusion with alternative styles of work arrangements. Alternative, casual, contingent and temporary are all terms often referred to as contract work (Bernhard-Oettal, Sverke & De Witte, 2005). Casual workers may work on an hourly basis, as would be the case for those working at McDonalds. They may also work as temporaries, filling in for those workers ill or on other short term absences. The title FTC has sometimes been associated with temporary work, in terms of the psychological contract; it has been found that FTC may have closer links to permanent work attitudes (Grimmer & Oddy, 2007). The FTC is often linked to what might be called a 'professional' or 'educated' position. The employee has invested their time in gaining skills and qualifications necessary to carry out the job. Many 'professional' positions are now being carried out on contractual work status where previously a permanent position was common. Research work has become an example of this in English universities where the number of researchers on FTCs has risen dramatically (Bryson & Barnes, 1997).

Smithson and Lewis (2000) commented that many beginning professionals accept FTCs as recognition of their need to 'build a career'. As such, they may view their time on an FTC as a sort of apprenticeship. Many of these professionals may also be unsure as to whether they want to pursue teaching careers long-term, and therefore are not overly threatened by the prospect of starting their teaching career on an FTC. In other words, they do not greatly fear a violation of the psychological contract. However extended periods of tenure on FTCs have shown to be detrimental to well-being (Rocha, Crowell, & McCarter, 2006). Coles (1995) has referred to the difficulty that young people on insecure tenure have with being able to 'settle down'. Thus, in time, marriage, starting a family, or buying a home are all perceived restrictions of contingent work arrangements. As a consequence, a violation of the psychological contract may impact on the motivation and work attitudes of contingent workers when FTC is the only form of employment offered by the organisation.

Few studies have undertaken the investigation as to whether there are differences in the attitudes and needs of FTC workers, including teachers. In 2004, Feather and Rauter released a study titled: 'Organisational citizenship behaviours in relation to job status, job insecurity, organisational commitment and identification, job satisfaction and work values'. Based around the concept of organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) as described by Organ (1988), the study investigated relationships between work measures and OCBs. OCBs have been described as extra role activities. Such activities may include altruistic attitudes in regard to helping other staff, working back when not specifically required, and volunteering for tasks outside school hours. OCBs have been termed as "the good soldier" roles. They are also relational or social in nature. Should the psychological contract of teachers be transactional only, teachers on FTCs would be unlikely to partake in them. Yet Feather and Rauter found them to be highly prevalent in their study. They argued however, that the participation of FTC teachers was not voluntary; that FTC teachers carried out OCBs from a desire to impress school leaders and hence improve their chances of gaining permanent employment. The results of the research by Feather and Rauter revealed high levels of OCBs, but also high levels of job insecurity amongst FTC teachers. Feather and Rauter concluded that this association was explained by the desire of FTC teachers to make a favourable impression so as to enhance their chances of permanent employment in the future. They referred to these FTC teachers as involuntary, as their preference of employment status was strongly in favour of permanency (96%). They also described the teaching labour market at the time of the research, 2000, as in oversupply.

Muchinsky (2006) describes OCBs as an attribute of an employee found to be highly valued by the organisation. Sometimes referred to as prosocial behaviour, extra-role behaviour or contextual behaviour, OCBs relate to the contributions of the employee that go beyond those stipulated by the job description or contract. Coined the "good soldier" by Organ (1988), the construct has been divided into five dimensions by LePine, Erez and Johnson (2002):

Altruism relates to helping behaviours offered to individuals on organisational tasks.

Conscientiousness is a measure of punctuality, low rates of absenteeism and compliance with organisational procedures.

Courtesy reflects a respect of people's rights.

Sportsmanship infers an abstinence from grievance, complaining and gossip.

Civic virtue is identified with keeping alert to organisational issues by attendance at meetings and by contribution to organisational communication.

Studies by Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, and Bachrach (2000) found the prevalence of OCBs among employees with high levels of job satisfaction, affective commitment, fair treatment, and good relations with managers or supervisors. Such results have been corroborated in other countries (Spector, 2003).

Although OCBs may be thought of in an altruistic sense, there is evidence to support Feather and Rauter (2004). Bolino (1999) suggested that the presence of such behaviours may be the behaviour of "good actors" in contrast to "good soldiers", and argued that employees who displayed prosocial behaviours did so in a self-serving manner, in a desire to enhance their chances of promotion within the company or organisation. Hui, Lam and Law (2000) found a reduction of OCBs in employees who had recently been promoted. They concluded that with a more secure work status, there was a reduction in the desire to perform OCBs. Becker and Dan O'Hair (2007) reported on the positive relationship found between Machiavellian motives and OCBs. Care must be taken therefore in clearly defining OCBs as spontaneous expressions of goodwill on behalf of the employee.

While the positive gains of employee OCBs to an organisation have been examined, one study by Vigoda-Gadot (2006), carried out on 206 teachers in 13 Israeli schools, highlighted the perceptions of teachers who felt coercion from managers to carry out extra-role activities. Such "compulsory OCBs" reflect a more negative side to the traditional view of OCBs. In an environment where there may be a possible threat of retrenchment if extra-role activities are not undertaken, such OCBs may not be spontaneous or altruistic. They may be self-driven in relation to job survival. It may also be that employers view the positive results of OCBs as good for the organisation, and as such impose them upon their employees. In an environment of free will, such impositions could be taken up by the employee or dismissed as being outside the job description. For FTC teachers who perceive high levels of job insecurity, it is not inconceivable that coercion, either directly or indirectly, may contribute to their involvement in OCBs. In contrast, high levels of OCBs and low job insecurity may reflect a strongly altruistic intent in regard to OCBs.

In accordance with Feather and Rauter (2004), it is first hypothesised that FTC teachers will perform more OCBs when compared with permanently employed teachers.

Job insecurity has been described as a general concern regarding the continued existence of one's employment into the future (Klandermans & Van Vuuren, 1999). Studies have shown a strong link between high levels of job insecurity and lowered job satisfaction, negative physical health, increased work withdrawal, reduced organisational commitment, and higher intent of turnover (Darwish, 1998; De Cuyper & De Witte, 2007; Probst & Brubaker, 2001; Rosenblatt & Ruvio, 1996). Rocha and colleagues (2006) found that extended periods of job insecurity had detrimental effects on personal well-being, especially in regard to increased levels of depression. Negative effects on health were also found in Ni Laoire and Shelton's (2002) study on contracted professionals. Cheng and Chan (2008) indicated a significant negative relationship between job insecurity and job performance. It would appear from the evidence available that job insecurity has negative effects across a multitude of constructs related to organisational effectiveness. As such, schools that wish to operate at peak levels of efficiency and productivity should aim to reduce perceived levels of job insecurity wherever possible. This would appear extremely relevant in considering the effectiveness of FTC teachers.

Second, it is hypothesised that FTC teachers will exhibit higher levels of job insecurity than permanent teachers, and since job insecurity may lead to participation in OCBs for reasons of insecurity, it is thirdly hypothesised that there should be a positive correlation between OCBs and job insecurity.

Of all of the attitudes of employees measured by organisations, job satisfaction is perhaps the most popular (Muchinsky, 2006). Job satisfaction has been defined in two parameters: global job satisfaction is a single and general feeling an employee feels about the job and job facet satisfaction, which focuses on particular aspects of the job. Initial assumptions that a happy worker is a productive worker have however, been difficult to prove. Meta-analyses by Iaffaldano and Muchinsky (1985) and by Petty, McGee and Cavender (1984) revealed a small correlation between global job satisfaction and job performance in the mid 0.20s. But did job satisfaction lead to better performance or was it that success at work lead to satisfaction with the job? It appears that job satisfaction is an extremely complex construct to define. For instance, age has been found to be related in a curvilinear nature to job satisfaction. Clark, Oswald and Warr (1996) found that job satisfaction declines from the ages of 26 to 31 and then increases again with age. Thoresen and colleagues (2003) found a link between affect and job satisfaction. Employees, who saw the glass as half full, reported higher levels of job satisfaction.

Some research has provided a link between turnover, absenteeism and job satisfaction (Elangovan, 2001). Generally speaking, the more people dislike their job, the greater the likelihood that they will quit. Also, the feelings and attitudes of employees towards their job have been shown to be mildly correlated to the regularity of absence (Muchinsky, 2006). If you like your job, you are more inclined to attend, even if unwell, than if you are dissatisfied with it.

Whilst job satisfaction is a multifaceted and complex construct, high or low levels of job satisfaction may give clues of behaviour which may impinge on the organisation. Managers may find this useful in forecasting the possibility of turnover, absenteeism and possible reduction in productivity. In the school setting, work values which may increase the levels of job satisfaction of teachers might impact on the success of students and the cohesion of the school community.

Numerous studies have investigated the links between job satisfaction and organisational commitment. Both have been recognised as highly correlated terms (Mathieu, 1991; Rayton, 2006; Yousef, 2002), however much debate has centred on which of these is the causal antecedent of the other, or if in fact there is actually a causality at all (Elangovan, 2001; Vandenberg & Lance, 1992). The most widely accepted view in literature is that job satisfaction leads to organisational commitment (Deshpande, 1996). Research by Gaertner (1999), Williams and Hazer (1986), Vandenberg and Lance (1992), and Elangovan (2001) all support this claim. However, the opposite causality was espoused in a study by Bateman and Strasser (1984). If it is assumed that high levels of job satisfaction promote high levels of organisational commitment, as proposed by Elangovan, the size of the job satisfaction predictor in a regression analysis of organisational commitment would give valid information. If the predictor is strong, it would be wise for principals to concentrate on strategies in the workplace to enhance job satisfaction.

While job satisfaction has been defined as a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job and job experience (Locke, 1976), the degree to which an employee feels an allegiance to an organisation is defined as organisational commitment. It includes a desire to remain part of the organisation, an acceptance of the goals and organisation's aims, and a strong work ethic (Mowday, Steers & Porter, 1979). More recently (Meyer, Allen, & Smith, 1993), organisational commitment has been broken down into three components: Affective commitment is when an emotional attachment has occurred between the employee and the organisation and will be discussed in greater detail; Continuance commitment is based on the employee's need to remain for monetary benefits or due to an inability to find another job; Normative commitment is the obligation felt by the employee to the organisation out of a sense of loyalty (Muchinsky, 2006; Spector, 2003).

Affective commitment as an attitudinal construct may contribute to the level of exchange in the relationship between the employee and employer (Meyer & Allen, 1997), and in the degree of positive attitude toward the organisation (Rousseau & Parks, 1993). High measures of affective organisational commitment have been shown to be related to higher job satisfaction, lower intentions of turnover, greater involvement in OCBs, and lower levels of absenteeism (van Knippenberg & Sleebos, 2006).

There has often been some confusion as to the difference between organisational commitment and organisational identification (van Knippenberg & Sleebos, 2006). While commitment implies a relationship between the individual and the organisation, identification is a measure of how strongly the organisation is accepted by the employee as part of the self. When talking about the organisation they work for, people with high identification will use the term "we" not "they", as in one of the items from Mael and Ashforth's (1992) questionnaire: When I talk about this organisation I usually say "we" rather than "they". This incorporation of the organisation into the self-concept leads to the intrinsic motivation of individuals (van Knippenberg & Ellemers, 2003). Such employees will have a desire to remain part of the company, and as such will exhibit low levels of turnover and absenteeism (Mael & Ashforth, 1995), higher motivation and performance (van Knippenberg, 2000), more OCBs (Christ, Van Dick, Wagner, & Stellmacher, 2003) and, as reported by van Knippenberg and Sleebos, increases in other measures such as group cohesion, inter-group relations and leadership. As such, high levels of identification reflect acceptance of the organisation's interests and values. Such an acceptance may strongly indicate the willingness of the individual to contribute to the performance of the organisation.

Whilst differences are present between the work variables of organisational commitment and organisational identification, Feather and Rauter (2004) found them to be significantly correlated (r = .57, p < .001). Coyle-Shapiro and Kessler (2002) found that contingent job status was related to a reduction in organisational commitment. It may be argued that job status may be reflected in the levels of organisational identification also.

As such, it is fourthly hypothesised that teachers on FTCs will display lower levels of organisational commitment and organisational identification. Further, hypothesis five states that there will be a positive correlation between job satisfaction, and both organisational commitment and organisational identification, for all teachers.

Work values can be defined as attributes of a job which are desired or valued by the employee (Feather & O'Brien, 1986). An example of a general work value might be an adherence to a Protestant Work Ethic. Specific work values can include autonomy (influence and control), skill-utilization, and variety. Warr (1987) suggested that there were nine environmental determinants that contributed to a sense of well-being for employees. Of these, opportunities for skills use, variety of task, and the opportunity to control aspects of one's work situation were included. Warr's research has argued the importance of such work values on employee mental health and well-being. Links between work values and job satisfaction have also been found in other research (Griffin, 2007; Morrison, Cordery, Giardi & Payne, 2005; Ting, 1997).

The sixth and final hypothesis of this study is that those teachers who display high levels of work values:-variety, influence and skill-utilization will also display high levels of job satisfaction.



The sample consisted of 59 Secondary School teachers from the rural Victorian sector. There were 24 fixed-term contract teachers (10 males and 14 females) and 35 permanent teachers (17 males and 18 females). The ages of the contract teachers ranged from 22 to 67 (M = 41.13, SD = 14.17). The permanently employed teachers had ages ranging from 29 to 61 (M = 46.80, SD = 7.86). The contract teachers had a mean teaching experience of 11.04 years (SD = 12.72), whereas the permanent teachers had taught for a mean of 19.09 years (SD = 9.14). The contract teachers had been on FTCs from one to 6 years with a mean of 1.67 years (SD = 1.40).

Schools selected were 'like' in nature as described by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD): similar populations, socioeconomics, demographics, rurality, etc.


Demographic information was collected at the beginning of the survey. This included age, gender, years working as a teacher, employment status (permanent or fixed-term contract), years working on a fixed-term contract (if applicable), preferred employment status, reasons for continuing as a teacher (three favoured choices), whether relocation had occurred in order to take up their current teaching position and if so, whether the participant would be willing to relocate again for another teaching position.

The variables in the questionnaire of this research were as follows:

* Organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) was measured with 10 items adapted from a scale devised by Wittig-Berman and Lang (1990). Examples of items included: 'I take work home or stay late to finish up work, even if not specifically asked to do so'; 'I talk about work during lunch'. Each item was answered using a 1-5 rating scale from 1 (Never), through 3 (Sometimes) to 5 (Always). (Cronbach alpha = .70, as reported by Feather and Rauter, 2004).

* Organisational commitment: affective was measured using an 8 item affective commitment scale from the organisational commitment questionnaire devised by Allen and Meyer (1990). The scale was adapted to refer to the teacher's emotional commitment to the school. Examples of items included: 'I enjoy discussing my school with people outside it'; 'I would be happy to spend the rest of my career with this school'. Each item was rated on a 1-7 scale from 1 (Strongly disagree), through 4 (Neither agree nor disagree), to 7 (Strongly agree). (Cronbach alpha = .85, as reported by Feather and Rauter, 2004).

* The measure of organisational identification used a 6 item scale described by Mael and Ashforth (1992), and adapted for the school situation. Examples of items included: 'When I talk about this school I usually say "we" rather than "they"'; 'The school's successes are my successes". Each item was rated on a 1-5 scale from 1 (Strongly agree), through 3 (Neither agree nor disagree), to (Strongly disagree). Scores on the 6 items were reverse coded. (Cronbach alpha = .85, as reported by Feather and Rauter, 2004).

* Job insecurity was measured using the following three items derived from Feather and Rauter (2004): 'I am worried about having to leave my job before I would like to go'; I am not concerned about leaving my job in the near future'; I feel uneasy about losing my job in the near future'. Each item was rated on a 1-5 scale from 1 (Strongly disagree), through 3 (Neither agree nor disagree), to 5 (Strongly agree). (Cronbach alpha = .86, as reported by Feather and Rauter, 2004).

Five items derived from the Hackman and Oldham (1975) Job Diagnostic Survey were used to measure general job satisfaction. Examples of items included: 'I frequently think of quitting this job'; 'Most people in this position are very satisfied with this job'. Each item was rated on a 1-5 scale from 1 (Strongly disagree), through 3 (Neither agree nor disagree), to 5 (Strongly agree). (Cronbach alpha = .76, as reported by Feather and Rauter, 2004).

Three 1-5 rating scales were used in order to measure the extent to which both the permanent and fixed-term teachers perceived themselves to have work value satisfaction opportunities related to influence (control), variety, and skill utilization in their current schools. These scales were adapted from the employment and unemployment studies of Feather and O'Brien (1986).

The work variety scale involved three items linked to the provision of change or variety in the current job, change in location, and interaction with other people. Coded from 1 (Not at all), through 3 (Some), to 5 (A very great deal), the total variety scores could range from 3 to 15. (Cronbach alpha = .81, as reported by Feather and Rauter, 2004).

The work influence scale included five items concerned with decisions relating to the design of the workplace, speed and organisation of work, new skills learned, and choice of co-workers. Coded from 1 (No influence), through 3 (Some influence), to 5 (A great deal of influence), the total scores could range from 5 to 25. (Cronbach alpha = .79, as reported by Feather and Rauter, 2004).

The skill-utilization scale involved four items concerning opportunity for learning new skills on the job, using abilities, using experience and using education. Coded from 1 (Not at all), through 3 (Some), to 5 (A very great deal), the total skill-utilization scores could range from 4 to 20. (Cronbach alpha = .88, as reported by Feather and Rauter, 2004).


Following ethics approval from both the University of Ballarat and the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), principals were contacted and a brief explanation of the purpose of the research was given. If approval from the principal was obtained, a time was organised for the researcher to attend the school's morning briefing where staff were informed of the purpose of the research. Staff were informed of the voluntary nature of their participation in the research and reassured that they were free to withdraw at any time. The confidentiality of the research was also indicated. Interested staff completed a consent form which had attached to it a plain language information statement. If still interested in participating, the participants handed the researcher the completed consent form and were provided with a set of questionnaires.


As can be seen from Table 1, the most popular reasons given by teachers (permanent and FTC combined) to continue in teaching was the enjoyment of teaching and wanting to make a difference in the lives of children. Job security appeared to be a more common response for permanent teachers.

It must be noted that two participants did not respond correctly in respect to their reasons for continuing in teaching. One participant chose only one reason (unqualified for anything else), while the other participant chose all responses. The responses of these two participants were excluded from the results table.

Table 2 shows that FTC teachers reported significantly lower levels of organisational identification and influence/control. Job insecurity was significantly higher for FTC teachers. None of the other differences was statistically significant. Levene's statistic for the test of homogeneity of variance was not significant for any of the variables allowing equal variances to be assumed.

Table 3 illustrates that there were statistically significant positive correlations between OCBs and organisational commitment, organisational identification, job satisfaction and work skills utilization. In addition, job satisfaction showed statistically significant positive relationships to organisational commitment, organisational identification, work influence, work variety, work skills utilization as well as already mentioned, OCBs. All three of the work values: influence, variety and skills utilization correlated positively and significantly with each other and with organisational commitment. Organisational identification significantly and positively correlated with organisational commitment and two of the work values: variety and skills utilization.

Following the significant correlation found between job satisfaction and organisational commitment (.66, p < .01), and based on the causality of job satisfaction on commitment proposed by Elangovan (2001), regression analysis of organisational commitment by job satisfaction was carried out (Appendix E) and resulted in a significant 'change in R squared' of .43 (p < .001).

Hierarchical regression of job satisfaction by the work values of influence, skill-utilization and variety (Appendix F) resulted in significant 'changes in R squared' for influence and skill-utilization of .16 and .10 respectively (p < .05). The result for variety was close to significant (p = .065), with an 'R squared change' of .05. The total 'change in R squared' for this regression analysis was .27.


Table 4 shows that the reliabilities of three of the instruments used in this study, as measured by their Cronbach alphas, proved to be questionable. Job insecurity, variety and OCBs all provided reliabilities less than .70. There were also considerable differences between the reliabilities of these three variables in this study with the reliabilities reported by Feather and Rauter (2004).


This study aimed to investigate differences in work attitudes between permanently employed and FTC teachers in rural Victorian secondary schools. Results of the research did not find support for hypothesis one. FTC teachers did not display higher levels of OCBs than permanent teachers.

Hypothesis two was supported as the level of job insecurity was significantly higher for FTC teachers as compared to permanent teachers.

Hypothesis three was rejected since no significant correlation was found between job insecurity and OCBs for the total sample population.

Hypothesis four was partly supported. FTC teachers exhibited significantly lower levels of organisational identification than permanent teachers, however no statistically significant differences were found in relation to organisational commitment.

Hypothesis five was supported with significant correlations found between job satisfaction and both organisational commitment and organisational identification.

Finally, hypothesis six was supported as all three work values: variety, influence and skill-utilization correlated significantly with job satisfaction.

Previous research (Feather & Rauter, 2004; van Dyne & Ang, 1998) has revealed conflicting results in regard to the degree of performance of OCBs carried out by employees on contingent work status. While Feather and Rauter reported higher levels of OCBs, they defined the FTC employees surveyed in their study as involuntary in nature. They argued that the contract staff surveyed carried out more OCBs through a desire to impress management and enhance their likelihood of soliciting a permanent position in the future. This result was reflected by their FTC cohort's response to favoured work status. Their cohort of FTC employees indicated a 96% preference for a permanent teaching position. In the study by van Dyne and Ang however, the contingent workers were defined as voluntary. They operated in a labour market where there was a severe labour deficiency and their levels of OCBs were lower in comparison to permanent employees.

The voluntary nature of contingent employment in the van Dyne and Ang (1998) study bears similarities to this study in that there is currently a substantial shortage of teachers in Australia. This situation is accentuated in regard to rural and remote areas (Roberts, 2004). It may be argued that the FTC teachers in this study did not perceive the need to carry out OCBs for Machiavellian motives (Becker & Dan O'Hair, 2007). In their response to preferred work status, 79% of FTC teachers indicated a preference for a permanent position. This was well below the response indicated in the Feather and Rauter (2004) study of 96%. It is suggested that the current difficulties faced by rural schools in attracting employees to rural areas may be recognized by FTC employees and, as such, these employees do not perceive levels of job insecurity sufficient to carry out extra-role activities for personal gain by impressing principals. Their classification may be more voluntary, more in relation to the research of Dyne and Ang.

A further contributing factor to these results may be in relation to the age of the FTC teachers in this study. It should be noted that of the 24 FTC teachers who responded to the questionnaires, only six (25%) were below the age of 30. This indicates that a high proportion were not necessarily young graduates. Furthermore, seven of the FTC teachers (29%) had ages in excess of 55. The results of Table 1, which lists the reasons for teachers continuing to teach, strongly supports the enjoyment of teaching by FTC teachers and their desire to make a difference to the lives of children. These values were more highly regarded than pay or job security. If this has in fact been the case, these teachers may not be classifiable as involuntary, as was the case for FTC teachers in Feather and Rauter's (2004) study. These findings may indicate a shift in the demographic of the FTC teacher in rural areas from the younger graduate to the 'unretired' (Becker & Dan O'Hair, 2007).

Hypothesis two was supported. Based upon a one-tailed test, the level of job insecurity for FTC teachers was greater than that for permanent teachers (p < .05), although this finding was well below comparison with the findings of Feather and Rauter (2004), (p < .001, two-tailed test). Job insecurity still presented as a concern for FTC teachers, however the results of studies of job insecurity which suggested a lowering of job satisfaction and a reduction in organisational commitment (Darwish, 1998; De Cuyper & De Witte, 2007; Probst & Brubaker, 2001; Rosenblatt & Ruvio, 1996) did not eventuate. No statistically significant correlations were found between job insecurity and organisational commitment or in regard to job insecurity and job satisfaction. In fact, the levels of correlation for organisational commitment and job satisfaction with job insecurity were almost zero (Table 3). It may be that the level of job insecurity may need to be high, extended over time, or a combination of both, in order for reductions in commitment and satisfaction to occur. Further, the mean age of FTC teachers in this study (M = 41.13, SD = 14.17) and their teaching experience in years (M = 11.04, SD = 12.72) would indicate that this group is both mature in years and in teaching experience. The study by Feather and Rauter involved FTC teachers with a mean age of 28.67 years (SD = 6.39) and teaching experience of 2.06 years (SD = 4.30). This is a marked difference and may reflect the cohort of FTC teachers emanating in the rural sector. The more mature FTC teacher may handle the prospect of job insecurity more confidently than younger graduates. As such, the levels of job insecurity may not reveal as strongly.

Hypothesis three was rejected as the results of the zero-order intercorrelations between OCBs and job insecurity proved to be almost zero (-.09). Although FTC teachers reported significantly higher levels of job insecurity, in light of teacher shortages these levels may not have been perceived as serious enough to warrant involuntary or compulsory OCBs (Feather & Rauter, 2004; Vigoda-Gadot, 2006). Ratings of job insecurity for both permanent and FTC teachers were both below the mid-point of 9 in the questionnaire devised by Feather and Rauter.

Hypothesis five was accepted. These findings supported those obtained by Feather and Rauter (2004). They also supported the multitude of research describing the correlational relationship between job satisfaction and organisational commitment (Elangovan, 2001; Mathieu, 1991; Rayton, 2006; Yousef, 2002). The findings of Elangovan are of particular interest here in relation to the difficulties that rural schools face in retaining staff. Elangovan investigated the relationships between job stress, job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and the intention of employees to leave the organisation.

Hypothesis six found strong correlations between all of the work values: skill utilization, variety and influence with job satisfaction. These findings again support the study by Feather and Rauter (2004). Multiple hierarchical regression of job satisfaction by the three work values revealed some support. The prediction of job satisfaction by the work values of influence, skill utilization, and variety resulted in a total of 27%, however only influence and skills utilization predicted significant changes in the regression equation. In view of Elangovan's (2001) study, and the corroboration of these correlations by Feather and Rauter (2004), this finding is worthy of consideration by principals of rural schools.

If: Job Satisfaction >>>> Organizational Commitment >>>> Lower Turnover

it would appear that the ability of a teacher to carry out the three work values discussed may play an important part in developing a degree of job satisfaction. Whilst the correlations for organisational commitment with influence, skill-utilization and variety were also significant, it could be argued that these are the result of emergence through job satisfaction. For the principal and school, allowing FTC teachers to operate with a degree of personal control, to utilize their skills regularly, and to be involved in a variety of tasks on the job, would be a valid way to increase job satisfaction, and hopefully enhance the establishment of organisational commitment and identification.

There were limitations to this study. Firstly, the cross-sectional group was small in number. A larger group size would have increased the study's validity (Anastasi & Urbina, 1997), however obtaining a larger group of participants proved problematic. The directives of the DEECD requested the researcher to arrange a suitable time through the principal to attend the school and to personally explain the purpose, procedure, and confidentiality of the research. Since rural schools are, well, rural, there was much time spent travelling and a limit of finances added to restrict the number of schools visited.

Further, an attempt was made to collect data from "like" rural schools; schools with similar populations, rurality, remoteness, ethnic diversity and socioeconomic demographics. Whilst trying to minimize confounding variables, the resultant restrictions in available schools proved detrimental to the collection of a larger sample size.

This study aimed to replicate the work of Feather and Rauter (2004) who investigated differences in work attitudes and values between permanent and involuntary contingent teachers. It was felt that this study should alter the demographics of the teaching cohort by selecting teachers from the rural sector, since the difficulties faced by these schools in attracting or obtaining replacement teachers may accentuate any differences. Added to this are further difficulties which occur for principals in secondary schools where teachers who have specialist teaching areas, such as technology and LOTE, are often difficult to attract and retain (Craven, 2000). Significant differences emerged. One of the major findings of this study was the high proportion of FTC teachers who were more maturely aged and the low numbers of what might be called young graduates in rural secondary schools. It appears that many of the vacancies being currently filled in rural schools are by older teachers who have possibly retired and returned to teaching on a fixed-term contract. There is much research discussed which highlights the proportion of FTC teachers who are young graduates (Smith, 2007). Future research may need to make allowance for an evident shift in the demographics of FTC teachers, especially in rural schools.

Further, the reliabilities of some of the instruments used in this study did not prove strong. Additional research in the areas of job insecurity, variety, and OCBs may need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the scales used in this study.


This study found some support for the previous study by Feather and Rauter (2004). FTC teachers displayed significantly higher levels of job insecurity and OCBs were related to work variables of organisational commitment and organisational identification. However the concept of OCBs presenting to a higher degree in FTC teachers did not result. In the current labour market, where many schools, and especially rural schools, are struggling to fill vacancies, FTC teachers did not display higher levels of OCBs. It is argued that the current employment climate has shifted since the Feather and Rauter study and that FTC teachers are operating currently on voluntary, as opposed to involuntary contingent work arrangements.

This study also revealed a probable change in demographic of the FTC teacher in rural Victorian secondary schools. The FTC teacher is older, more experienced, and possibly a member of the 'unretired' cohort who have retired and then returned to teaching. Many schools may highly value the experience and self-confidence of such individuals since they are most likely members of the local community and may possess a high degree of organisational commitment. This group may prove to be a major asset to principals struggling to staff their schools.

Finally, this study suggests the need for schools to foster the inclusion of new teachers into their community. It is argued that retention will not occur without development of organisational commitment. Job satisfaction must not be seen as the means to retain teachers, but as a process through which commitment may develop. Also, work values of influence, skill-utilization and variety may improve the levels of job satisfaction of teachers, and in so doing, promote the association of commitment to the school.

It is argued that research on teachers in metropolitan schools may not be transferable to the rural sector. Whilst Roberts (2004) reported that many students from rural areas 'go home' following their teacher training, it is proposed that rural schools need to be proactive in assisting new members of their teaching staff to 'create a home'. Such recognition and understanding may lead to better retention of FTC teachers and an overall increase in the productivity of the school.


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David Lierich and Christine O'Connor

University of Ballarat
Table 1--Frequencies of Responses to Reasons for Continuing in
Teaching Given by Permanent, FTC and All Teachers

Reason given                    Permanent   FTC   All teachers

Pay                                10       10         20
Holidays                           13       12         25
Job Security                       19        8         27
Make a Difference                  19       13         32
Enjoy Teaching                     29       13         42
Like Children                       8       10         18
Unqualified for anything else       2        4         6
Other                               1        2         3

Table 2--Mean Scores and Standard Deviations (SDs) of Work
Variables for Permanent and Contract Teachers and Results of

                                      Mean Scores

Variable              Perm     SD      FTC       SD     df      t

Job Insecurity        7.17    2.67     8.58     3.41    57   -1.78 *
Org Commitment         40     9.61    35.83    10.97    57    1.55
Org Identification   22.89    4.12    20.29     5.53    57    2.07 *
Job Satisfaction     23.49    4.98    23.88     6.15    57   -0.27
Influence            15.51    4.00    13.29     3.92    57    2.11 *
Variety               9.57    1.96     9.83     2.60    57   -0.44
Skill utilization    14.94    2.36    14.67     3.12    57    0.39
OCBs                 37.86    4.04    36.42     3.91    57    1.36

* p < .05 (one-tailed test). OCBs = Organisational citizenship
behaviours. FTC = Fixed-term contract.

Table 4--Comparison of Cronbach Alphas for this Study and the
Feather and Rauter(2004)Study

Variable              This Study   Feather & Rauter (2004)

Job Insecurity          (.67)               (.86)
Org Commitment          (.88)               (.85)
Org Identification      (.89)               (.85)
Job Satisfaction        (.80)               (.76)
Influence               (.81)               (.79)
Variety                 (.66)               (.81)
Skill utilization       (.81)               (.88)
OCBs                    (.65)               (.70)
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Author:Lierich, David; O'Connor, Christine
Publication:International Employment Relations Review
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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