Academic Inbreeding and Mobility in Higher Education: Global by Maria Yudkevich, Philip G. Altbach, Laura E. Rumbley

By Maria Yudkevich, Philip G. Altbach, Laura E. Rumbley

Educational inbreeding - appointing one's personal graduates for educational positions - is a debatable yet strangely universal perform across the world. This e-book is the 1st comparative research of the phenomenon - the reasons, implications, and way forward for inbreeding.

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In their work on Japan, based on the qualitative analysis of interviews, they found that “completing both undergraduate and postgraduate education at one university and having all doctoral supervisors from the same university” (Horta, Sato, and Yonezawa 2011, 39) are possible reasons for inbreeding; that is to say, these factors enhance the possibility that an academic job candidate will be hired from within. In general, reasons for inbreeding may be divided into two main groups: internal factors (that relate to the university itself) and external factors (that do not depend on the university itself and are explained by the university’s environment).

However, not all literature on inbreeding supports the conclusion that inbred faculty are discriminated against in terms of slower promotion: in Spain inbred and immobile academics tend to obtain tenured contracts than earlier noninbred faculty; thus, it has been suggested that inbreeding can speed up an academic career at the early career stages (Cruz-Castro and Sanz-Menéndez 2010). Inanc and Tuncer (2012) also found out that in Turkey inbred faculty had longer career paths than those hired from the outside.

We still feel this is the case, yet the deeper analysis afforded to us through this study has given us new perspectives on the very pragmatic reasons why inbreeding may occur and the practical difficulties associated with “undoing” this approach to hiring new faculty. In this sense, inbreeding is often a “symptom” of broader systemic issues and can be understood as a “lesser evil” approach in less-than-ideal environments for academic employment. This highlights a daunting reality: “Fixing” inbreeding would not necessarily solve the much more deeply entrenched difficulties inherent in national higher education systems that are structurally misaligned with the notions of “academic labor markets” (regionally or nationally), or social/professional mobility, or in small country contexts where language barriers make it hard to hire anyone but a local graduate.

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