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Regular version of the site

Article

The impact of trust and information networks on teachers’ job satisfaction

Kybernetes. 2019. Vol. ahead-of-print. No. ahead-of-print. P. 1-31.
Veretennik E. V., Kianto A.

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of how two types of informal social networks – those related with instrumental purposes of information sharing and those related with expressive purposes of interpersonal trust – impact teachers’ job satisfaction.

Design/methodology/approach This paper utilises social network analysis (SNA) degree and betweenness measures and job satisfaction scales from the Job Diagnostic Survey to collect longitudinal data from employees in one of the vocational schools in Saint Petersburg, Russia via structured interviews. Data on a total of 354 ties were analysed for 40 ego networks in 2018 and 33 ego networks in 2019.

Findings The obtained results partially confirm the positive effect of teachers’ position in instrumental and expressive networks on job satisfaction. More centrally positioned teachers were more satisfied with peers and colleagues. They fell more secure in regards to job security, given the unique and multi-faceted knowledge they possess. Structural diversity of the network, as well as the category of a teacher (core subject or vocational subject), are found to explain the uneven evolvement of network size. The authors argue that the decrease in network size can be treated as a positive externality of changes in an informal network. The variation in teachers' experience seems to explain both job satisfaction and network composition.

Research limitations The paper is based on a case study and its findings are limited to one particular organization. Nonetheless, the proposed SNA application is of potential value for similar organisations in terms of enhancing their capacity to benefit from networks. This study utilizes a structured interview to collect network data and job satisfaction data. However, overt observation or secondary data on written communication (e-mail, reports) may provide additional insights about the sought impact in the context of school.

Practical implications Both teachers and managers benefit from the results of the paper. Educational policymakers and schools' administration can exploit the bird's eye view on an organization that SNA provides. By identifying focal employees and their attitude towards school, one receives an opportunity to prevent structural holes, organizational conflicts and uneven distribution of workload. Novice teachers can nurture their well-being by enhancing personal and instrumental social networks at the start of their career. Experienced teachers benefit from social cooperation as it fosters the exchange of experience and skills, which is vital for job retention.

Originality/value This research extends our understanding of the role of different kinds of social networks in teachers’ job satisfaction. The article provides new insights into the SNA application to vocational schools and developing economies. Authors address teachers’ informal networks both from ego and complete network analyses to provide the holistic, yet detailed view. The use of longitudinal data advances the understanding of how personal and group networks develop over time.