Adjuncts by the Numbers

The use of adjunct and non-tenure-track faculty has clearly been on the rise at American business schools, as shown by data drawn from AACSB International’s Salary Surveys.

IN THE 2005-2006 ACADEMIC YEAR, non-tenure-track instructors in the business school accounted for 12 percent of faculty; ten years later, that number stood at 18.3 percent. Not only that, their salaries rose significantly during that period of time, from US$54,900 to $78,300. The numbers of non-tenure-track faculty in other categories (which include professor, associate professor, and assistant) also rose during the decade, but only incrementally.

But what’s notable is that, during this same period of time, the numbers of full-time tenure-track faculty at business schools dropped across the board. For instance, full-time tenure-track professors went from being 33.2 percent of the school’s faculty roster to 29.1 percent. Full-time tenure-track instructors all but disappeared during the decade, representing only .2 percent of faculty by 2015. (While AACSB’s survey does not specify the responsibilities of these two groups, generally speaking, full-time tenure-track instructors are likely to focus on teaching, not research.)

It’s more difficult to gauge how the use of non-tenure-track faculty has changed at business schools globally in the past ten years, as European schools generally don’t follow the tenure model. Among a small sampling of non-U.S. schools, mostly Canadian, reliance on non-tenure-track faculty actually dropped between 2005 and 2015.

While the experiences are different for universities in different regions of the world, one thing is clear: Business schools are constantly changing their faculty ratios in the hopes of finding the perfect mix.


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