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June 19, 2009


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I realize this isn't exactly the question you're addressing, but your post made me wonder whether the costs/benefits of post-tenure incentives are more or less important than pre-tenure costs/benefits. Over the last few years, I've been surprised by how much the tenure system distorts the work and behavior of pre-tenure folks. And it does so in truly perverse ways, shaping the substance of scholarship and teaching, exactly the things that tenure is suppose to insulate. I agree with you that people have other incentives to be productive at that stage in their careers, so the benefits might be especially weak and the costs even less justifiable. Furthermore, if many or most people are relatively more productive in their pre-tenure years than thereafter, then the question of costs/benefits at that stage is even more important. All that aside, I wonder what the pool of entry-level candidates would look like if tenure were not available.

Kim Krawiec

Thanks for the comments, anon. Your experience regarding the distorting effects of tenure during the pre-tenure years seems to be one that is shared by at least some others. I came across several discussions along those lines as I was poking around the net prior to that posting. I'd be interested to hear more from you or others about the ways in which the tenure system had this effect pre-tenure. Pressure from senior, tenured co-workers regarding what to teach and/or write? Risks you didn't, or maybe did, take in anticipation of outside reviews?

Matt Razor

Kim, I'm not sure if it just me or my computer but I can't open the link to your post "My Tenure’s For Sale. How About Yours?." This is a very interesting topic and would love to read more on.

Thank you,
Matt Razor

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