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This study uses a cross-section national sample of four-year colleges and universities in the United States to examine the variation of part-time faculty employment. Results of this study suggest that higher educational institutions actively design and adopt contingent work arrangements to save on labor costs and to manage their resource dependence with constituencies. Institutions that pay high salaries to their full-time faculty members, have limited resource slack, and are located in major urban areas tend to employ a high proportion of part-time faculty. Furthermore, institutions that have small student enrollment and large proportion of part-time students are found to rely more heavily on part-time faculty employment. Private institutions, on average, have higher levels of part-time faculty than their public counterparts; however, this result does not hold for doctoral and research institutions. Finally, institutions that rely more on tuition and fees revenue tend to employ more part-time faculty. Such a relationship is significantly moderated by institutional quality, suggesting that different institutions may adopt different strategies to attract students and secure their tuition revenues.


Suggested Citation
Liu, X. & Zhang, L. (2007). What determines employment of part-time faculty in higher education institutions? [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations site:

Required Publisher Statement
Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Cornell University.