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Teacher-principal relationships: Exploring linkages between empowerment and interpersonal trust

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Purpose - To investigate relationships between teacher empowerment and interpersonal level trust in the principal. Design/methodology/approach - Trust is a fundamental element in well-functioning organizations. Studies of empowerment, a motivational construct, have suggested that empowering employees is a key factor in managerial and organizational effectiveness. An instrument was constructed to measure perceived teacher empowerment and level of interpersonal trust in the principal. Established measures of psychological empowerment and affect-and cognition-based trust were adapted for use in the study. Elementary school teachers in an urban school district in the USA completed the survey instrument. Findings - Teachers who perceived that they were empowered in their work environments had higher levels of interpersonal trust in their principals. Teachers who found their work personally meaningful, and who reported significant autonomy and substantial influence in their work environments had higher levels of interpersonal trust in principals. Research limitations/implications - This investigation was delimited by the study sample. Research on the empowerment-trust relationships should be extended to include middle and high schools, and schools in different regions with a broader range of demographics. Practical implications - Principals should consider suggested strategies that can strengthen teachers' perceptions of empowerment, reinforce trustworthy behaviors, and support beliefs in the honesty, integrity, and reliability of supervisors. Originality/value - The study compliments the limited base of data-driven research in education and the non-profit sector that focuses on significant intervening variables associated with trust in organizations.
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Keywords: Empowerment; Principals; Teachers; Trust; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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