October 1994 // Volume 32 // Number 3 // Research in Brief // 3RIB1

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Job Satisfaction of Kenya's Rift Valley Extension Agents

This article reports on a study of the factors underlying the job satisfaction of Kenya's Rift Valley Extension Agents. A questionnaire was used to collect this information from a sample of 325 agents, stratified by rank and gender. Factor analysis indicated that eight factors explained 24% of the variance in job satisfaction and included: evaluation, dependable supervisors, work incentives, pay, praise and work location, housing and transportation, job security, and administration and supervision. Agents' personal characteristics were not found to contribute to their job satisfaction. Kenya Extension supervisors should give attention to these factors in working with their agents.

N. L. McCaslin
Associate Professor
Department of Agricultural Education
The Ohio State University
Internet address: nmccasli@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu

John Mwangi
Provincial Extension Supervisor
Rift Valley Province

Because employees work harder and perform better if satisfied with their jobs, knowing the factors related to agents' job satisfaction can help prevent staff frustration and low job satisfaction (Beder, 1990; Watanabe, 1991; and Grossnickle & Thiel, 1988). Current information on job satisfaction of Kenya's Rift Valley Extension agents was lacking, and this study was designed to identify agents' personal characteristics (gender, age, marital status, formal education and years of service) and underlying factors of job satisfaction and relative importance.

The questionnaire used in this descriptive, correlational research included 105 job satisfaction and 10 personal characteristic items. Each item had a five point Likert-type response scale as follows: l = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Uncertain, 4 = Agree, and 5 = Strongly Agree. The questionnaire was found to have content validity by 11 professionals, some of them with 10 years experience in Kenya's Extension Service. The reliability coefficient for the questionnaire was .79. The agents were also asked as a group in each district to identify factors that affected their work motivation and job satisfaction.

From an accessible sampling frame of 2,087, a random sample of 325 agents, stratified by rank and gender (i.e., Agricultural Assistants, Assistant Agricultural Officers and Agricultural Officers), completed the questionnaire--about 85% of them as scheduled. A follow-up of the remaining 15% raised the response rate to 100%.

On average, agents were 34.6 years old and had worked for 9.6 years, 85% were married while 14.5% had never been married, .5% were either divorced or widowed, 77% were male, 86.5% had worked from one to 15 years, 41% had not been promoted, 50.9% had been promoted once, 6.5% had been promoted twice, 1% had been promoted three times, and .3% had been promoted four times. Their age ranged from 24 to 55 years, their total years in service from one to 33, and their qualifications ranged from a post-secondary agricultural certificate to a master's degree. Agricultural Assistants had the longest number of years of service (10.5 years) followed by Assistant Agricultural Officers (8.5 years) and Agricultural Officers (5.2 years). All Agricultural Officers had 10 years or less of service. Agricultural Assistants had worked longest in their current positions (5.5 years), while agents in the other two ranks had served for 3.9 years in their current positions.

Factor analysis indicated that eight out of 21 initial factors identified by the researchers from the literature and personal experience were significantly related to the agents' job satisfaction and explained 24% of the variance. Listed in decreasing order of importance, the factor names and percent of variance that each factor explained were: evaluation (7.4%); dependable supervisors (5.3%); work incentives (2.8%); pay (2.2%); praise and work location (1.8%); housing and transportation (1.6%); job security (1.5%); and administration and supervision (1.3%). Because evaluation was the most important factor related to job satisfaction, continuous, accurate, and objective staff evaluation is essential in improving agents' job satisfaction, performance, and productivity. Therefore, as Vroom (1964) recommended, staff performance should be assessed accurately, based on standards that employees perceive to be fair, achievable, and equal for all. The study supported Herzberg's (1972) findings regarding the importance of good relations with one's supervisor, equal treatment for all employees, administrative support, effective supervision, good pay, and job security. Tying pay to individual performance, providing job security, and showing concern for the agents should increase their job satisfaction.

Agents' personal characteristics were not as important for their motivation as were job satisfaction factors. Therefore, Extension managers could do a better job of improving agents' morale and job satisfaction by giving less consideration to personal characteristics and more attention to the job satisfaction factors identified in the study.

The open-ended questions, administered in group interviews, revealed that most agents believed their promotions were more related to years of service than to individual performance. This perception caused them frustration and lowered their job satisfaction. They felt that selecting agents on merit for promotions and further training, paying adequate allowances for travel, hotel accommodation and subsistence, and providing health insurance would greatly improve their job satisfaction. Though generalizable only to Kenya's Rift Valley Extension agents, these findings may be useful to Extension managers whose agents have similar basic training and terms of service.


Beder, H. (1990). Reasons for nonparticipation in adult education. Adult Education Quarterly, 40(4), 207-218.

Grossnickle, D.R., & Thiel, W.B. (1988). Promoting effective student motivation in schools and classroom. A practitioners perspective. Columbus: The Ohio State University library microfiche.

Herzberg, F. (1972). Work and the nature of man. New York: New American Library.

Vroom, V.H. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Watanabe, S. (1991). The Japanese quality control circle: Why it works. International Labor Review, 130(1), 57-79.