Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed. D.) in Educational Administration and Supervision






School principals -- Salaries etc., Employee motivation



Physical Description

3, vi, 144 leaves 28 cm.


The effective schools research has repeatedly concluded that effective schools are characterized by effective administrators. The desire, then, of local school boards to improve administrator performance has emerged, based upon the assumption that as building principal performance improves, so does teacher performance, and ultimately, student performance. Merit pay has received a great deal of attention in education recently as a means to motivate administrators towards improved performance. Merit pay is supported by the "physical-economic" school of thought which believes that individuals are "economically motivated". In contrast, the "work itself" or "job satisfaction" school of thought believes that individuals are best motivated by factors which affect job meaningfulness. Merit pay is viewed as a "hygiene" factor which may decrease job "dissatisfaction" but does not necessarily result in increased motivation. This dissertation compared the "physical-economic" concept of altered compensation rates or merit pay, to the "job satisfaction" or "work itself" concept of increased job meaningfulness as a means to motivate principals towards improved performance. When given a list of incentives, principals were asked to choose between merit pay and other type incentives. Of the 312 principals surveyed, 244 responded for a 78% return rate with the following results: 28% preference for merit pay at the 5% level; 47% preference for merit pay at the 10% level; 63% preference for merit pay at the 15% level; and, 68% preference at the 20% level. Frequencies tallied and percents derived indicated a consistent preference for merit pay at the 15% and 20% levels irrespective of demographics. These results would seem to indicate that "work meaningfulness" incentives are desirable to principals, but when paired against ever increasing levels of "potential monetary compensation", they lose their attractiveness. Even though merit pay received a popular response from the principals surveyed at the higher levels offered, merit pay's track record is so poor as to suggest that better measurement methods need to be devised before such a program is initiated. According to the literature reviewed, it is doubtful that such an objective and equitable means of measurement is feasible without interfering in a principal's daily routine, thus reducing the principal's effectiveness.


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Portland State University. School of Education.

Persistent Identifier