School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Russell Yocum


employee behavior, higher education, staff, human resources, grounded theory, currency, personal currency


Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this grounded theory study was to create a model that illustrates different types of personal currency among staff at Freedom One University (a pseudonym) and how that currency is being used, by exploring motives for this behavior and gathering information on awareness of this behavior. A constructivist grounded theory approach was utilized as it allows for the analysis of data to construct what is needed from the next set of gathered data (Cooney, 2011). Through grounded theory, a reason for an event, or possibly the cause for an event will become clear, which a theory will explain (Corbin & Strauss, 2015). This research and its findings fill a gap in the literature by way of empirical report of university culture centered on a metaphor of currency. The theories guiding this research are those that have an impact on, what (self-determination theory) (Ryan & Deci, 2000) motivates adults to make decisions within a peer culture, and why an informal rewards system (social learning theory) (Bandura, 1977) contributes to staff using their skills, personality, and influence to persuade the employee’s environment. The data analysis strategy used in this study is borrowed from Braun and Clark’s thematic analysis which reminds this experimenter to be strict about explaining the reasons for every action performed (Braun & Clark, 2006). A question of this study is, “How is one to influence, compel, be awarded favor, be liked, socially bond with peers, obtain advancement, or receive favors at work, in an environment where money is not a suitable form of exchange?” This research generated a model that shows what types of currency staff are using on campus at Freedom One University and which of their talents and skills are being traded with one another.