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A theory of tenure-track contracts


  • Bruce Cater
  • Byron Lew
  • Barry Smith


This paper offers an explanation of the use of tenure-track contracts in academia. It argues that, because the results of academic research cannot be sold, a professor's profitability depends on the market value of the instruction he or she provides. But because that value depends directly on the extent of his or her observable research accomplishments, a profit-maximizing university will dismiss a professor who fails to initially establish a strong research record, but will tolerate a professor who fails to augment a record that is already strong.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Cater & Byron Lew & Barry Smith, 2008. "A theory of tenure-track contracts," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 203-218.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:16:y:2008:i:2:p:203-218
    DOI: 10.1080/09645290801939629

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    Cited by:

    1. Cater, Bruce & Lew, Byron & Pivato, Marcus, 2009. "Why tenure?," MPRA Paper 14823, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    research; instruction; tenure;


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