The Cooperative Extension System has a high turnover rate. Studies indicate a need to improve collaboration and communication efforts between agents to improve their retention. This exploratory study used a social capital lens to investigate agents’ collegial relationships and access to information. Cross-sectional data were collected from a nonrandomized sample of Extension agents from Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension. Results showed agents’ engagement in professional associations depended on their programmatic responsibilities. Few agents were active members of associations that were not linked to their specific program area. Findings pointed to a low level of bridging capital and a higher level of bonding capital since agents had strong ties with colleagues in their own programmatic area. Agents mostly socialized with others in their own program area at statewide events, and most did not seek information from a district or regional director. This may adversely impact information sharing due to an overdependence on homogenous networks. This study suggested the social capital of MSU Extension agents could be more fully developed. Agents may benefit from opportunities to engage in national-level and heterogenous professional organizations to build bridging capital.
Narine, L. K.,
(2019). Exploring the Social Capital of Cooperative Extension Agents in Mississippi.
Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 7(1), 7.
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