Planning for academic excellence: Tenure and professional considerations

Adam E. Nir*, Ronit Zilberstein-Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Based on role theory suppositions, the following study explores how role stress which follows occupational insecurity influences the professional considerations of pre-tenure faculty. In-depth interviews were conducted with ten Israeli pre-tenure and six tenured faculty members working at three different Israeli universities in the faculties of humanities and social sciences. The findings reflect pre-tenure faculty's stress, following their difficulty in determining to what extent individual professional conduct meets the institutional standards of excellence that make one eligible for tenure. Moreover, it was found that such circumstances encourage pre-tenure faculty's tendency to 'play safe,' which was evident in their inclination towards conservatism dominating their professional considerations. Conversely, tenured faculty who experience stress which results from their struggle for recognition and professional fulfilment reported they are less worried regarding their professional future, and are therefore more willing to take risks and become involved in more profound and speculative ventures. It is suggested that providing support through mentorship and periodical formative assessments are likely to make new faculty's role stress more manageable. In addition it is argued that tenure and the security it provides is an important feature of academic life, and a major means for sustaining faculty members' motivation to pursue new endeavours.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)537-554
Number of pages18
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2006


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