Ineffective university faculty members
Other Names: Erosion of academic research by tenure
Distortion of scholarly work by competition for tenure
Nature: Academics are naturally attracted to the job security offered by life-long tenure, especially in a constantly shrinking job market. But in order to achieve tenure they are under considerable pressure to compete for the limited number of tenured positions. The academic politics involved in achieving tenure can involve intrigue and disreputable behaviour which is detrimental to the quality of academic life. The process encourages conformity rather than the freedom of thought that it was designed to protect. The pressure to "publish or perish" leads to considerable output but of questionable quality. The tenure system creates a privileged class of workers in an economy in which all jobs are increasingly at risk or the subject of rethinking. Consequently there tends to be an accumulation of uncreative and ineffective academics which the tenure system makes it impossible to remove when appropriate.
Claim: Competition for academic tenure wilts the vitality and effectiveness of academics at the expense of students. The process of achieving tenure is in the worst interests of students, since professors have too little time left to devote any creative energy to the teaching responsibilities.
Counter Claim: The academic system of tenure is vital to the protection of free thought and research. Viable research would become extremely difficult if tenure was not there to protect long-term projects. Tenure also protects academics expressing unpopular views.
Problem Type: E: Emanations of other problems
Subject(s): WorkPropertyIneffectivenessDistortionResearchUniversitiesGraduatesEducational content
Date of last update 13.03.1997 – 00:00 CET