Public Employee Quality in a Geographic Context: A Study of Rural Teachers

Jacob Fowles, J. S. Butler, Joshua M. Cowen, Megan E. Streams, Eugenia F. Toma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Recruiting high quality employees is one of the key functions of public human resource managers and a critical component of effective public service delivery. This is particularly true in education but little is known about public sector or teacher hiring patterns in areas that are predominantly rural, poor, and isolated from other locales. This article begins to fill that gap. We find that rural educational agencies employ the new teachers of lowest observed aptitude, implying that organizational outcomes associated with these districts may differ in systematic ways that reinforce longstanding gaps in quality. As such, human resources strategies for increasing the attractiveness of geographically and culturally isolated regions for high quality public service are needed. These strategies are likely to require different policy prescriptions than those utilized to enhance the attractiveness to employees in urban areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-521
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The Spencer Foundation (Grant No.201000055) provided funding for this research under the project title Teaching Careers in Rural Schools.


  • education policy
  • personnel/human resource management
  • policy analysis
  • public management issues
  • training and development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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