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Five Faculty Labor Market Dilemmas Facing Community Colleges in the New Economy

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Community College Journal of Research and Practice Volume 35, Number 8, ISSN 1066-8926


Community colleges employ more than one-third of the nation's higher education faculty. Nevertheless, the labor market through which faculty are recruited, selected, hired, evaluated and retained or replaced is one of the least understood aspects of these institutions. Functional management and effective policy both require a clear understanding of the workplace dynamics and employment dilemmas associated with this labor market. This article begins by recognizing that the 21st century economy is being transformed by large scale social, political, and technological developments--developments often referred to as the emergence of a new economy. This new economy is transforming the nature of work and the character of worker-employer relations. Four core ideas in the new economy literature are developed to show how they are creating fundamental labor market dilemmas for community colleges. The concepts are (a) information age technology, (b) globalization, (c) neo-institutional theories of organization, and (d) work spatialization. Analysis of these concepts shows how the transformation of work and of workplace relationships produced by the new economy is creating five troublesome dilemmas for community college management, policy, and research. These dilemmas are examined to build theory and frame policy issues for research and action. The dilemmas involve distinguishing work spatialization from secondary labor market status, separating institutional from bureaucratic forms of control, identifying symbolic and substantive faculty work roles, clarifying managerial control structures and roles, and identifying the career pipelines that bring individuals into this occupation. Responding to these dilemmas shapes college management, frames higher education policy issues, and defines a research agenda for anyone interested in understanding and improving community college performance. (Contains 1 table.)


Mitchell, D.E., Yildiz, S. & Batie, M. (2011). Five Faculty Labor Market Dilemmas Facing Community Colleges in the New Economy. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 35(8), 620-644. Retrieved February 20, 2020 from .

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