CoConspirator Todd’s post on the growth of administrative staff at universities raises a further question for me. Considered as a public choice/incentives question, what are the rational incentives of university administrators regarding faculty tenure? We have had some interesting discussions here at VC on the policy considerations on tenure – I’ll weigh in on them at some point, but not today – but in this post I have another kind of question.
If the study to which Todd links is correct, and administrative staff is growing in this way, along with an accumulation of administrative power within universities, what are the incentives of university administrators with respect to the institution of faculty tenure? Would they tend to disfavor tenure because it empowers faculty potentially vis a vis administrators? Because administrators would prefer to see faculty as employees or, perhaps, simply independent contractors? Rather than a potentially competing source of university governance on the traditional (and somewhat mythical, at least in the past few decades) “collegial” model? Or are their incentives something else altogether?
That is, I am asking a very specific question regarding the rational incentives of university administrators. (Please comment only if you have something that goes to that question, and please, no rants or off-topic disquisitions.)