In the context of faculty hiring, most schools employ various levels of scrutiny on the path toward making offers. Most, if not all, schools will use some form of committee vetting process, and the committee will ultimately make a recommendation to the faculty. Committees will rely to a greater or lesser extent - depending on the level of the hire and the faculty by-laws - on external references. Even deans have some input in the process because they are the ones who, in the final analysis, extend offers and negotiate contract terms with candidates, thereby perhaps enhancing or lessening the likelihood that a candidate will accept an offer.
I've become interested in what degree of deference is accorded to these different levels and types of review throughout the processes at different schools. Some schools seem to rely heavily on external review letters even in pre-tenure lateral hires. Some schools require few external letters even when making a tenured hire. Some schools require detailed written recommendations from committees to the full faculty whereas others rely on a verbal report from the committee chair.
Do these differences suggest differences in the actual level of deference given to committees and external reviews, or are they different ways of getting to the same result? For example, in a school where the committee is not required to provide a written recommendation to the faculty, is there likely to be more deference to the committee (or perhaps less) than in a school where the committee is required to make a detailed written recommendation to faculty including copies of external review letters?
My interest stems from the fact that I came from a system years ago in Australia and the UK, where the dean himself/herself made all the offers to candidates, perhaps on the advice of a committee and with some limited input from faculty, but with no faculty votes on the issue of hiring. I'm wondering if we'd get very similar results by defering more to deans and/or committees with a lot less work and angst on the part of the faculty as a whole. I like the idea of faculty governance and of faculty having a say in who ultimately gets to become a colleague. But I'm also wondering if there are large efficiency costs and if the results are significantly different at the end of the day from a system where faculties defer more to committees, deans and/or external reviewers.