Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Tenure at Academic Institutions

My friends, John Chilton and Phil Miller, have an on-going discussion about tenure at Market Power. Phil Miller says, in part,

Getting the chance at tenure is one of the benefits of the job. Generally speaking, assistant professors are willing to take a lower rate of pay to have the chance at tenure. If tenure were abolished, many would likely move out of academia if they were not compensated with a higher salary. I imagine this is especially true of professors from disciplines that are well-represented in the private sector (economics, finance, engineering, chemistry, medicine, etc.)

John Chilton comments, in part

My university doesn't have tenure. It has rolling contracts. Once on a rolling you get an in depth review every x years, at which point if you get terminated you still have a guaranteed y more years.

I don't want to be at a place where others want tenure. I'd be glad if contracts were at will. Deans and Presidents could use the threat of firing faculty to good effect.

For my own part, I'd be happy if universities got rid of tenure. Tenure does little or nothing to protect academic freedom, and it is silly to make a decision after four - six years about whether you think a person is going to be productive for the next 25 - 40 years. Unlike The Emirates Economist, though, I would not be all that eagre to teach at a non-tenure institution if nearly all the others had tenure -- that would create a strange and thin market.

Meanwhile, Alan Adamson, my co-blogger at Curling, works for IBM. Nobody has tenure in that labour market. The discussion at Phil's blog is good.

Update: and Bill Sjostrom's views on academia are absolutely priceless.
Who Links Here