Tenure and Contract Systems: An Overview
This chapter reviews the literature pertinent to faculty employment policies and organizational change theories. It demonstrates that Academic tenure is the modal system of faculty employment in American higher education. The chapter examines speculation about the “how” and “why” of change from tenure to contracts or contracts to tenure. Pundits and researchers have offered rationales for possible reasons of change in faculty employment policies toward or away from tenure. Many different organizational theories have been applied to higher education, including rationalism, the political model, the collegial model, strong leader model, institutional isomorphism, the paradigm-shifting model, and loose coupling. Commentators offer a host of hunches about the reasons for abandoning or instituting tenure, but without research on the issues, the hypotheses about changes to faculty appointment policies must be gleaned indirectly from the literature. The chapter examines rationales surrounding academic freedom, job security, campus governance, and other areas of concern.