Perceived Fairness of Faculty Governance: A Study of 51 Countries

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Higher Education


The present research considers the possibility that guidelines emphasizing academic freedom and faculty self-governance (i.e., those articulated by AAUP and UNESCO) might compete against national norms in shaping faculty fairness perceptions of institutional policies. We investigate the extent to which expectations of academic freedom and faculty self-governance are universal across countries. Grounding our hypotheses in tenets of organizational justice, we assess faculty’s perceptions of academic freedom, hiring, tenure/contract renewal, promotion, and performance appraisal policies. Survey data were collected from 954 faculty members working at institutions of higher education in 51 countries. Results suggest that institutional policies that comply with academic freedom and faculty self-governance guidelines are perceived as fairer than policies that do not comply. Furthermore, the strength of the relationships between fairness and academic freedom, promotion, and performance appraisal policies does not differ between countries. However, our findings do indicate country-level differences in the strength of the relationship between fairness and policies regarding hiring and tenure/contract renewal. We discuss the implications of our findings for university policy. Balancing adherence to fair employment practices, respecting academic freedom, and honoring cultural norms require institutes of higher education worldwide to make difficult decisions. Our research suggests that when designing policies and practices related to the recruitment, hiring, and promotion of faculty, higher education administrators consider the expectations of academic freedom and faculty self-governance.


Academic freedom; Distributive justice; Faculty governance; Procedural justice; Professional values


Higher Education



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