Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Michelle Violanti

Committee Members

David Schumann, Lisa Fall, John Haas


Future public relations practitioners may not be as well-equipped as their predecessors due to a faculty shortage. The shortage “is severe because we are faced with a critical gap between available qualified full-time faculty and an enrollment of students that continues to climb year after year” (B. F. Neff, personal communication, September 7, 2006). Additionally, low salaries, limited training, inadequate number of Ph.D. programs and stricter faculty requirements has contributed to this shortage. How do we persuade more practitioners to transition to the classroom? The purpose of this study was to look at the practitioner/professor transition experiences to provide answers to the question above. An examination of the messages, motivators and obstacles was studied using in-depth interviews. Twenty public relations faculty representing ten states were asked to discuss their transitional journeys. Using Strauss and Corbin’s (1998) coding paradigm, five themes evolved in the analysis including mentoring, love of academe, rewards, calling and obstacles. Findings indicated that practitioners turned professors made the career transition based on perceived self-efficacy and self-determination. Those who are considering a transition from one career to another, particularly one with less tangible benefits, can be explained by not only self-efficacy as a predictor of “career decision-making intentions and behavior” (Betz & Voyton, 1997, p. 180), but also by self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985). In addition to the fulfillment of the three psychological needs of self-determination theory--competence, autonomy and relatedness--the study found an additional need, situation, also had to be met. Self-efficacy and self-determination theory with the added element of situation, presents a good model for determining success and fulfillment in career transitions.

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