Academic Career Trajectories in Europe and North America



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Academic Career Trajectories in Europe and North America

  • Tenure Track in Decline or on the Rise?
  • Hans Pechar
  • Alpen Adria University, Austria

Different Concerns

Different Concerns

  • North America: decline TT positions
    • tenure-track an obsolete model?
    • how much are research universities affected?
  • Germanic Countries: TT a Role Model?
    • relationship between academic status groups (what is an assistant professor?)
    • transparent career trajectories; reduce risk in early career stages

Different Concerns

  • Different Concerns
  • A Modest Typology
  • Habilitation Model: History
  • Habilitation/Tenure Track compared
  • GER/AT: Reform Initiatives
  • Different Concerns

Tenure, TT, Habilitation

  • UK/SWE/NL: Lecturers/Senior Lecturers have permanent positions (tenure)
    • only a minority is promoted to full professor (SWE: 1/3, UK 1/4)
  • North America: those who enter tenure track are expected to become a full professor
  • Habilitation model: only full professors should have permanent positions
  • Tenure (FRA/UK), TT (US), Habilitation (GER)
  • Source: Kreckel 2012
  • Different Habilitation Systems (CZE/GER/CH/AT)
  • Source: Kreckel 2012

Different Concerns

  • Different Concerns
  • A Modest Typology
  • Habilitation Model: History
  • Habilitation/Tenure Track compared
  • GER/AT: Reform Initiatives
  • Different Concerns

Origin of Habilitation Model

  • Early 1800s: departure from “family university” (academic dynasties)
  • Raising quality standards
    • from preservation of traditional knowledge to creation of new knowledge
    • dissertation written by students, not professor
    • habilitation (‘private docent’) entry qualification for academic career

Chair structure

  • University = Federation of many small principalities
  • One professor/institute - represents the discipline comprehensively
    • Little formal structure, huge discretionary power, strong personal dependence
    • Future academics: apprentices under his supervision

Academic Charisma

  • Research not a profession but charismatic (extramundane) activity
    • “With some talent, effort, and persistence one can become a competent civil servant; one is a researcher by grace of God”
  • Charisma cannot be learned, it has to reveal itself in an appropriate setting

Max Weber on Charisma

  • “Charisma is a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin”

Charismatic Mode of Selection

  • Private docent: no salary, only student fees
    • inner calling: devotedness – sacrifices
    • must not apply – wait for a ‘call’
  • Undermined by expansion

Max Weber on Risk Career

  • “For it is extremely hazardous for a young scholar without funds to expose himself to the conditions of the academic career (...) whether such a private lecturer will ever succeed in moving into the position of a full professor (...) is simply a hazard. (...) I know of hardly any career on earth where chance plays such a role”

Mass HE

  • Most of teaching/research is done by non-professorial faculty
  • Improved social rights but still regarded as ‘qualification position’ (no career track)
  • Conflicts about representation in collegial bodies (struggle for quotas)

Different Concerns

  • Different Concerns
  • A Modest Typology
  • Habilitation Model: History
  • Habilitation/Tenure Track compared
  • GER/AT: Reform Initiatives
  • Different Concerns
  • Tenure Track
  • Rigorous PhD
  • Required mobility (contest mobility)
  • Assistant Prof = independent academic career; trial period in unfamiliar territory
  • Habilitation Model
  • Less demanding doctorate (Habil!!)
  • Internal recruitment (sponsored mobility)
  • ‘Assistant’ = literally, assigned to professor, qualification period within familiar network
  • Tenure Track
  • Tenure: evaluation (up or out); permanent contract dependent on achievement
  • Promotion to full professor at home institution (dependent on achievement)
  • Habilitation Model
  • Habilitation: venia legendi, no permanent contract
  • Application for full professor (required mobility), imbalance: applicants/professorial positions
  • Status Groups - Quantitative Relations
  • AT
  • US
  • Source: Kreckel 2008
  • required
  • mobility
  • AT
  • US
  • Status Groups - Qualitative Relations
  • highly seperated tracks vs flat hierarchy
  • required
  • mobility

Crucial Differences

  • Habilitation: insider orientation below professoriate; juniors remain within familiar networks; selective career step = late (prolongs uncertainty); categorical differences between status groups (impedes solidarity)
  •  
  • Tenure Track: selective recruitment at early stage allows for regular promotion within a career track; gradual differences between status groups (conducive for solidarity)

Different Concerns

  • Different Concerns
  • A Modest Typology
  • Habilitation Model: History
  • Habilitation/Tenure Track compared
  • GER/AT: Reform Initiatives
  • Different Concerns

Germany: Junior Professor

  • Initiated by the federal government in 2002
    • projected: 6000 positions by 2009, in fact 1000
  • without TT (fixed term contract, 6 years)
    • not ‘assigned’ to full professor
  • with TT (promotion to full professor possible)
    • only 6% of all Junior professors (= 60!!)
  • Technical University Munich: TT (2012)

Austrian ‘Tenure Track’

  • Collective agreement (2009): TT terminology without substance
    • assistant professor: university ‘may offer’ a position to ‘promising’ doctoral students
      • 90% of all positions recruited internally
    • full professor ‘call’ required (unbridgeable disjunction)
      • no promotion from associate to full professor
  • Permanent ‘Mittelbau’ possible

Different Concerns

  • Different Concerns
  • A Modest Typology
  • Habilitation Model: History
  • Habilitation/Tenure Track compared
  • GER/AT: Reform Initiatives
  • Different Concerns
  • TT
  • long-term
  • commitment
  • quantitative relation core/periphery
  • TA, RA, sessionals
  • flexibility

Germanic Concerns

  • Qualitative structure of core
    • Some doctoral students = 'core‘
  • Qualitative relations within core
    • cleavage, steep hierarchy
    • below pofessoriate: no commitment, success not projectable, uncalculable
    • extreme 'risk career'

Thanks for your Attention

Further Reading

  • Ben-David, J. (1991). 'The Profession of Science and Its Powers'. In: Scientific Growth. Essays on the Social Organization and Ethos of Science (pp. 187-209). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  •  Busch, A. (1963). The Vicissitudes of the "Privatdozent": Breakdown and Adaptation in the Recruitment of the German University Teacher, Minerva, Vol. 1, pp.319-341
  • Clark, W. (2006). Academic Charisma and the Origin of the Research University. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Kreckel, R. (Hg) (2008): Zwischen Promotion und Professur. Das wissenschaftliche Personal in Deutschland im Vergleich mit Frankreich, Großbritannien, USA, Schweden, den Niederlanden, Österreich und der Schweiz. Leipzig: Akademische Verlagsanstalt.
  •  Metzger, W. P. (1987). 'Academic Profession in United States'. In B. R. Clark (Ed.), The academic profession: National, disciplinary, and institutional settings (pp. 123-208) Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Neave, G. & Rhoades, G. (1987). 'The academic estate in Western Europe'. In B. R. Clark (Ed.), The academic profession: National, disciplinary, and institutional settings (pp. 211-270) Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Schimank, U. (2006). Unsolved problems and inadequate solutions: The situation of academic staff in German higher education. In J. J. F. Forest & P. G. Altbach (Eds.), International handbook of higher education (pp. 115-136). Dordrecht, NL: Springer.
  • Schmeiser, M. (1994). Akademischer Hasard. Das Berufsschicksal des Professors und das Schicksal der deutschen Universität 1870 - 1920. Stuttgart: Klett.


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