Faculty Constitutions in the Ivory Tower: Exploring the Balance of Power between the Professoriate and the Administration
by Matthew Woessner, Pennsylvania State University, and Jessica Kehler, Temple University
The presumption that rules and institutional structures profoundly influence an organization’s behavior is deeply rooted in the study of governance. Whereas social scientists have explored the link between institutional structure and political power at the national, state, and local level, there is virtually no quantitative research on how competing constitutional frameworks influence power in an academic setting. The researchers theorize that, given academics’ relatively limited input into institutional decision making, faculty respondents will perceive they have greater influence when they exercise direct control over faculty representatives. Merging a database of academic constitutions with faculty survey responses from the North American Academic Survey (NAAS), the authors find that, even when controlling for institutional size, budget, and academic mission, some features of academic constitutions are strongly correlated with perceptions of faculty power. In general, more representative constitutions are strongly associated with faculty influence. However, contrary to the underlying theory, faculty employed at schools where an administrator is designated as the chair or president of the academic senate feel they are more influential than those that elect their own leader. The results suggest a new and potentially important line of inquiry for political researchers.