Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology


Jefferson Miller

Committee Member

Casandra Cox

Second Committee Member

Donna Graham


Arkansas, Cooperative Extension Service, County Extension Agents, Employee Retention, Employee Turnover, Job Embeddedness Theory


The Cooperative Extension System (CES) has had a long-standing problem with the retention of its county Extension agents (CEAs), who are in charge of running various programs in over 3,000 counties within the United States. When a CEA leaves a county, voluntarily or involuntarily, the community members are left without that leader, and their needs go unmet, which was proposed to increase voluntary turnover among CEAs even further. Arkansas CES has had its problems with turnover, and studying this issue through the lens of Job Embeddedness Theory was identified as a gap in the literature.

Job Embeddedness Theory is a relatively new theory that seeks to understand why employees stay in a job, rather than the traditional theories that seek to understand why employees leave their jobs. The quantitative survey was sent to all 197 CEAs employed by Arkansas CES, and 162 returned usable surveys.

The study found that Arkansas CEAs have a medium-high overall mean job embeddedness score (3.61 out of 5 on a Likert scale), which results from their high levels of fit within their community and organization, the high acknowledgment of what they would have to sacrifice if they left their job, along with the low amount of links within their community and organization. The majority of Arkansas CEAs were young (< 49 years old), female, and had spent 10 years or fewer in their county. Despite the high number of female CEAs, male CEAs had a consistently higher job embeddedness score across all dimensions. The most concern is the low number of links within the organization and the decrease in scores after approximately 10 years in the same county.