Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Sociology

First Advisor

Paul D. Allison

Abstract

The proportion of non-tenure track faculty has grown over the last decade and adjuncts now constitute two-thirds of the academic workforce. Despite this growth, there remain important limitations to our understanding of this new faculty majority. For one, typologies for conceptualizing adjunct diversity are often poorly aligned and make limited use of information valuable for classification. This study addresses these issues by employing the multivariate typological method of cluster analysis. The analysis implied a “natural typology” for adjunct faculty and suggested important nuances for fully recognizing adjunct diversity in higher education. This dissertation also addresses limitations with regard to adjunct job satisfaction and turnover. With lower earnings and less job security, it has typically been assumed that beginning off the tenure line carries with it a greater risk of early career departure. However, the empirical evidence of this has been weak. Using survival analysis and a behavioral measure of career attrition, this study confirmed the risks of beginning off the tenure track. Furthermore, using a structural equation model, this study examined nuances in the satisfaction and turnover intentions of different subclasses of contingent faculty members. Satisfaction with benefits and financial satisfaction are distinct among aspiring academics and career-ending adjuncts and this has important implications with regard to faculty retention policies.

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