Pathways to Green(er) Pastures: Reward Bundles, Human Capital, and Turnover Decisions in a Semi-Profession

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study brings together turnover and job design research to investigate how reward bundling and job fit generate staying and leaving decisions among one particular group of “semi-professionals”: urban schoolteachers with different types of human capital. Using qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), I analyze survey and interview data from 40 middle and high school teachers in one urban school district: 20 stayers and 20 leavers. The analysis identifies combinations or “bundles” of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that work together to motivate staying and leaving decisions. For all stayers, administrative support appears to serve as a compensating differential for the absence of other rewards. For all leavers, reward bundles simultaneously lacking student attachment and collegiality, or combining more stable teacher human capital resources in the school with the lack of administrative support, each promote leaving decisions. Further, results suggest that teachers with different types of human capital react to these bundles differently. This paper explores three of the fourteen bundles specific to teachers with selective college backgrounds, high SAT scores, or National Board Teaching Certification. The findings have implications for semi-professions in which workers carefully weigh their often contradictory set of working conditions and are prone to leave their workplace or occupation for any kind of “greener pasture.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-57
Number of pages35
JournalQualitative Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Motivation
  • Professions
  • Qualitative comparative analysis
  • Teachers
  • Turnover
  • Work
  • Working conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Pathways to Green(er) Pastures: Reward Bundles, Human Capital, and Turnover Decisions in a Semi-Profession'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this