AN EMERGING GROUNDED THEORY OF FACULTY HIRING PROCESSES IN UNIONIZED COMPREHENSIVE UNIVERSITIES
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Title of dissertation: AN EMERGING GROUNDED THEORY OF FACULTY HIRING PROCESSES IN UNIONIZED COMPREHENSIVE UNIVERSITIES
Andrew D. Lounder, Doctor of Philosophy, 2015
Dissertation directed by: Professor KerryAnn O'Meara
Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
Growth in part-time faculty workforces in U.S. higher education since 1970 has been remarkable. Part-time faculty growth as a percentage of the whole has occurred most rapidly in comprehensive universities in recent years and carries with it important implications for student instruction. Comprehensive universities are of critical importance to the realization of higher levels of educational attainment by underserved and nontraditional college populations. The purpose of this study is to understand instructional faculty hiring processes in comprehensive universities. The study is derived from an application of grounded theory research methods within and across three university settings. Analysis shows administrators at all levels of the organizational chart (i.e., department chair, dean, and provost) follow a cycle of activities that results in both direct and indirect (or systemic), outcomes in faculty hiring. First, they scan the environments in which they are situated for possible risks to their work including faculty hiring. Second, they perceive risks, including risks of opportunity, from their own viewpoints. Third, and of central importance, they assert decision role changes in response to the risks they perceive. That is, they take action. Finally, they establish ownership of new decision responsibility. A visual model depicting the grounded theory is shared. Findings position faculty hiring as an outcome of rule following decisions and risk response rather than rational choice. Part-time faculty hiring is found to function as an organizational release valve, which circumvents role tension of the sort experienced among department, college, and university administrators in full-time faculty hiring. Implications for university-level faculty hiring policy and practice, as well as for future research, are discussed. One conclusion is that university decision makers should be more strategic about faculty hiring by aligning the process with desired outcomes.