Understanding the changing faculty workforce in higher education: A comparison of non-tenure track and tenure line experiences


  • Molly Ott Arizona State University
  • Jesus Cisneros University of Central Arkansas




non-tenure track faculty, organizational commitment, job characteristics


Non-tenure track faculty are a growing majority in American higher education, but research examining their work lives is limited. Moreover, the theoretical frameworks commonly used by scholars have been critiqued for reliance on ideologically charged assumptions. Using a conceptual model developed from Hackman and Oldham’s (1980) Job Characteristics Model (JCM) and prior research on faculty workplace experiences, this study considers the extent to which full-time non-tenure track and tenure line faculty share a professionalized approach to their jobs, working conditions, and how this is associated with their organizational commitment. Findings demonstrate important consistencies in full-time faculty views of their workplaces and jobs across appointment type. Satisfaction with resources, rewards, autonomy and feedback had a significant positive relationship with odds of organizational commitment for all faculty groups. Overall, the results suggest being removed from the tenure track is not associated with faculty viewing their jobs in a substantially different way than those in tenure line positions, which underscores the importance of conceptualizing full-time faculty work as an integrated whole.


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Author Biographies

Molly Ott, Arizona State University

Molly Ott is an Assistant Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and Coordinator of the Higher Education program. Her interests encompass higher education administration, organizational leadership and power, and the workplace experiences of postsecondary faculty. She earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Michigan and holds a master’s degree in Educational Policy and Leadership from Marquette University and a bachelor’s of business administration degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Jesus Cisneros, University of Central Arkansas

Jesus Cisneros is an Assistant Professor of College Student Personnel Services and Administration at the University of Central Arkansas. His research takes a critical approach to education policy, practice and participation by exploring the way queer politics and identity interact/ relate with various axes of inequality. He obtained his Ph.D. in Education Policy and Evaluation from Arizona State University, his M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M University, and his B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from New Mexico State University.




How to Cite

Ott, M., & Cisneros, J. (2015). Understanding the changing faculty workforce in higher education: A comparison of non-tenure track and tenure line experiences. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 90. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.1934