Purpose – This paper aims to investigate the relationship between psychological empowerment, job satisfaction, and burnout among vice-principals (VPs) in primary schools.
Design/methodology/approach – A total of 103 VPs at 103 different primary schools in Germany were surveyed with a questionnaire that assessed the four dimensions of psychological empowerment (competence, meaning, self-determination, and impact), emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Participants also reported demographic data, including days absent from work over the past year. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was employed to test the proposed hypotheses.
Findings – Regarding the consequences of empowerment, SEM revealed a strong indirect relationship with emotional exhaustion via job satisfaction. The direct relationship between empowerment and emotional exhaustion did not reach statistical significance. Of the dimensions of empowerment, competence and meaning were the strongest predictors of the outcomes. Emotional exhaustion and days absent from work were positively related.
Practical implications – Job related burnout can cause serious consequences for the individual and the school, because VPs have a central role in the functioning of primary schools. Since the empowerment dimensions competence and meaning have the strongest influence, measures should be implemented to foster them. Because job satisfaction is highly related to emotional exhaustion, it could serve as an early alert system. For this reason, VPs should be surveyed at regular intervals regarding their job satisfaction.
Originality/value – The study is the first that examines the relationship between psychological empowerment, satisfaction, and burnout among VPs in schools.