Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Persistence and Uncertainty in the Academic Career

I did only a quick browse of this paper (a lot of statistical analysis which I don't quite get). The abstract was .... "abstract" enough that I dove into the paper and looked for some main points that the authors was trying to make. One point that I got was in the conclusion/discussion of the paper:

An ongoing debate involving academics, university administration, and educational policy makers concerns the de nition of professorship and the case for lifetime tenure, as changes in the economics of university growth have now placed tenure under the review process [3, 6]. Critics of tenure argue that tenure places too much financial risk burden on the modern competitive research university and diminishes the ability to adapt to shifting economic, employment, and scientifi c markets. To address these changes, universities and other research institutes have shifted away from tenure at all levels of academia in the last thirty years towards meeting sta ff needs with short-term and non-tenure track positions [3].

For knowledge intensive domains, production is characterized by long-term spillovers both through time and through the knowledge network of associated ideas and agents. A potential drawback of professions designed around short-term contracts is that there is an implicit expectation of sustained annual production that e ffectively discounts the cumulative achievements of the individual. Consequently, there is a possibility that short-term contracts may reduce the incentives for a young scientist to invest in human and social capital accumulation. Moreover, we highlight the importance of an employment relationship that is able to combine positive competitive pressure with adequate safeguards to protect against career hazards and endogenous production uncertainty an individual is likely to encounter in his/her career.
In other words, moving away from tenureship won't give you more productive personnel.\


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