Clay Christensen, a professor at Harvard University's business school, has since his 1997 book The Innovator's Dilemma been widely acclaimed in the business world for his theory of “disruptive innovation” to explain why upstarts derail established companies. A later book applying the ideas to higher education has led many administrators to feature Christensen at meetings and quote him to promote various ideas about change. But an article in The Boston Globe notes that his ideas are increasingly being questioned. A year ago, The New Yorker published a critique. But now an article in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan Management Review (summary available here) offers detailed academic criticism of the disruptive innovation theory. The article questions whether many of Christensen's examples actually prove what he says and cautions business leaders against relying on the theory. In another article in the Globe, Christensen explains why he thinks the theory is still valid.
Campus Equity Week, an annual week of events to draw attention to the treatment of non-tenure-track faculty members, kicks off today. A list of some of the activities -- including film viewings, panel discussions and protests -- may be found here.
Fordham University's English department is winning rave reviews on social media for its take on the recent elections that will make Justin Trudeau the next prime minister of Canada. Among American academics, the joy isn't necessarily about Canadian politics, but Trudeau's major at McGill University. (Update: While Fordham's English department spread the image far and wide, it originated with Damian Fleming, associate professor of English and linguistics at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne.)
Author of new book on the history of the American Association of University Professors discusses how the organization has changed and remained the same over the last century, and what its next 100 years might look like.
The number of postdoctoral fellows in biology and biomedical sciences declined for the first time in more than 30 years, according to a new paper in The FASEB Journal, a publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The study says that even though the number of Ph.D. students continued to grow from 2010-13, the period surveyed, the number of postdocs declined 5.5 percent. “For some newly minted Ph.D. students, eschewing a postdoc may reflect a rational response to a tight academic labor market with low compensation and uncertain prospects for success,” lead author Howard Garrison, FASEB’s director of public affairs, said in a statement.
Garrison and his co-authors found that the number of postdocs in the biological or biomedical sciences at U.S. doctorate-granting institutions increased annually from 1979 through 2010. But the postdoctoral population fell from 40,970 in 2010 to 38,719 in 2013. While men and women and U.S. and foreign postdocs all decreased in number, the sharpest decline was among U.S. men, whose ranks dropped 10.4 percent from 2010-13.
The authors say that the postdoc drop did not coincide with reductions in graduate students or visas for foreign workers, but may be consistent with reductions in the number of research grants, independent labs and job announcements over the same period. A major study last year called for better pay and mentorship for postdocs, who increasingly are expected to do one or more fellowships on their way to faculty positions. Some have dubbed this the “permadoc” trend.
Ben Carson, among the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, on Wednesday renewed his call for federal monitoring of colleges' potential political bias. Appearing on Glenn Beck's radio show, Carson was asked if he favored shutting down the Education Department. Carson surprised his host by saying that he had a job for the department. That job: "It would be to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and to deny federal funding" when such bias is found. His campaign staff did not respond to a request from Inside Higher Ed for a definition of the type of bias that merits denial of federal funds.
The exchange starts at about 3:26 of the video below.
In a rare move of coordinated reproof, leaders of the faculty governance bodies of eight Big Ten universities are rallying around their counterparts at the University of Iowa -- decrying the lack of faculty consultation that went into the university's most recent presidential search. And at Iowa, the protests are continuing.
The Iowa Board of Regents selected the businessman Bruce Harreld as the institution's next president, despite widespread faculty opposition to Harreld's candidacy. Shortly after the selection, the Faculty Senate at Iowa passed a vote of no confidence in the governing board, saying the selection showed "blatant disregard for the shared nature of university governance."
Now leaders of the faculty governance bodies at eight of Iowa's Big Ten colleagues have signed a statement supporting the no-confidence vote. The statement was signed by leaders of the faculty groups at Indiana, Northwestern and Purdue Universities, and the Universities of Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska at Lincoln, Wisconsin at Madison and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Principles of shared governance dictate that the voice of the faculty, which carries out the core mission of the university, is accorded considerable weight in all important decisions of university governance. In appointing Bruce Harreld as the president of the University of Iowa against overwhelming opposition from the faculty, the Board of Regents, state of Iowa, appear to have violated these principles," the statement reads. "We call on the Board of Regents, state of Iowa, to adhere to the principles of shared university governance and to ethical behavior and transparency."
At Iowa on Wednesday, hundreds of protesters interrupted a Board of Regents meeting, chanting, "Resign, resign," and urging board members and Harreld to quit, The Gazette reported. While board members didn't in fact resign, protest organizers said that they would continue their efforts.
A controversial study this year found that, other factors being equal, faculty members seeking new colleagues in science and technology fields prefer female candidates over male candidates. But the Cornell University scholars who did that study have now published a new analysis in which faculty members were asked to evaluate for possible hiring (based on a portfolio of materials) male and female candidates in which the male candidate received slightly higher ratings. In these comparisons, faculty members generally picked the male candidate. “Faculty apparently view quality as the most important determinant of hiring rankings,” write Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams in the study, published in Frontiers in Psychology.