ERIC Identifier: ED284521
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Author: Boyer, Carol M. - Lewis, Darrell R.
Source: Association for the Study of Higher Education.| ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.

Faculty Consulting and Supplemental Income. ERIC Digest.

Faculty consulting has long been recognized as a legitimate expression of the traditional faculty role and mission of most academic institutions. Recently, however, concern about the appropriateness of faculty consulting and other activities producing supplemental income has increased as (1) such activity reportedly has increased, (2) public sentiment toward postsecondary education has changed, and (3) greater accountability has been called for. The central concern appears to be whether faculty consulting and other supplemental income activities result in "shirking. . . (other) university responsibilities. . ." The basis for such concern is not with the earning of supplemental income per se, but with the earning of supplemental income on university time--what some observers perceive as "double dipping."

On one side are those who argue that faculty consulting might result in neglect of students and other university responsibilities, abuses of academic freedom, conflicts of interest, and illegitimate use of institutional resources. On the other side are those who argue that faculty consulting enhances both research and teaching, that conflicts of interest and other abuses are very uncommon, and that faculty consulting benefits both the institution and society as well as the individual.

Until recently, much of the argument both for and against outside professional consulting has been inconclusive because of the anecdotal or speculative nature of evidence that could be brought to bear on the nature, the intent, or the extent of such activity. To complicate matters further, faculty consulting often has been grouped with "other moonlighting activities." To address public and institutional concern about faculty consulting and to inform policy deliberations on such activity, it is important to discriminate between consulting and all other activities that generate supplemental income.

SIX BASIC ISSUES

In view of current economic and demographic conditions as well as forecasts for higher education, the debate and policy concerns about faculty consulting and other supplemental income activities are likely to intensify. Basically, the debate involves six important issues:

--Who are the faculty who consult? --Is faculty consulting increasing? --Are faculty who consult shirking their responsibilities on campus? --Are faculty exploiting their consulting opportunities to substantially increase their total earnings? --Are faculty motivated to consult primarily for economic reasons? --Are most institutional policies and procedures adequate for governing faculty consulting and other activities producing supplemental income?

In addressing these issues, this report has three additional, related objectives: first, to extend existing knowledge about outside professional consulting as a faculty activity--where it is done, how much of it, by whom, and with what benefits and costs; second, to contribute further to our understanding of the role of supplemental income vis-a-vis the division of academic labor both among and within institutions; and third, to contribute to more informed policy development and decision making concerning these matters within colleges and universities.

Who are the faculty who consult? The evidence presented in this report shows that, compared to their faculty colleagues who do not consult, faculty who consult for pay are more likely to be employed in universities than in colleges, to hold higher academic rank, to have higher base saleries, to be among the more distinguished faculty, and to be from one of the professional fields or the sciences.

Is faculty consulting increasing? Data from a number of institutional and national surveys indicate that, contrary to conventional wisdom, faculty consulting does not appear to be increasing appreciably, even though real faculty salaries have significantly declined in the past decade or so. From the research literature, it appears that approximately 35 to 50 percent of all faculty devote some portion of their time to professional consulting over the course of any two-year period, with only 15 to 20 percent consulting during a given academic year. Further, it appears that these proportions have remained relatively constant during the past decade.

Are faculty who consult shirking their responsibilities on campus? The available evidence clearly suggests that those faculty who do consult are, on average, at least as active in their other faculty roles as their peers who do not consult. Faculty who consult, compared to their peers who do not, teach as many courses and devote as much of their professional work time to teaching and research, pay more attention to issues of national importance, publish more, subscribe to more professional journals, are more satisfied with their careers and their institutions, and are at least as active in departmental and institutional governance. only about 5 to 6 percent of all faculty report consulting more than one day per week. In short, it seems that faculty who do consult do so not at the expense of their other institutional governance. Further, only about 5 to 6 percent of all faculty report consulting more than one day per week. In short, it seems that faculty who do consult do not do so at the expense of their other institutional responsibilities.

WHAT MOTIVATES FACULTY MEMBERS TO CONSULT?

Are faculty exploiting their consulting opportunities to substantially increase their total earnings? Sixty to 85 percent of all faculty report receiving some income beyond their base academic salaries. Supplemental income results from all forms of income-generating activities (for example, research and teaching during the summer months as well as consulting) and is earned both within and outside of the institution. The amount represents only about 15 percent of average basic academic salaries. About half of all college and university faculty report having some form of "outside" supplemental income during a given year.

As for consulting specifically, it is estimated that half of all college and university faculty consult for pay at least once over the course of two years, including summers. Less than 10 percent of college and university faculty employed in fields allied with science and engineering report supplemental earnings that represent more than one-third of their base academic salaries. The comparable figure for faculty employed in the humanities is only 4 percent. Overall, however, less than half of all supplemental income has been attributed to professional consulting during the academic year. Moreover, even for those science, engineering, and humanities faculty who actually report consulting activities during the academic year, supplemental earnings represent only 20 to 25 percent of their base academic salaries. It seems, then, that most faculty are not earning large amounts of supplemental income from consulting or other outside professional activities.

Are faculty motivated to consult primarily for economic reasons? Despite the significant decline in real faculty salaries over the past decade, increasing numbers of faculty are not being induced to seek outside professional consulting opportunities to supplement their base academic salaries, nor are they substantially increasing their supplemental incomes. Both the steady proportion of total faculty earnings accounted for by supplemental income and the steady proportion of faculty who consult are consistent with the additional findings that, among faculty who do consult, the percentage of professional work time devoted to consulting is not related to base academic salary. These findings are particularly important because they challenge much of the current conventional wisdom about faculty consulting. Recent popular and policy-related literature, for example, implies that faculty consulting is primarily motivated by economic concerns. In fact, it appears that most faculty are motivated by other important factors, such as potential benefits to their instruction and research, and social demand.

Are most institutional policies and procedures adequate for governing faculty consulting and other activities producing supplemental income? In a large number of academic institutions across the country today, such policies and procedures often fail to formally address many important considerations. Even in those institutions where the policies are fairly specific with regard to limitations, the procedures for implementing the policies and for monitoring the outside professional activities of individual faculty members often are lacking. On the other hand, in some institutions the policies and procedures are unnecessarily restrictive and even unmanageable. In sum, more explicit and carefully developed institutional policies and procedures governing faculty consulting and other activities producing supplemental income are in order.

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH?

The literature on faculty consulting and other supplemental income activities indicated that further research is necessary in at least four important areas. First, communication and collaboration are lacking among the various national agencies collecting similar kinds of survey data on faculty, which in turn has limited the utility and comparability of such data. Second, although the literature does provide a fairly complete picture of the overall incidence and extent of faculty consulting for different time periods, little is known about individual patterns of faculty consulting over time and careers. Third, little is known about whether the opportunity cost of outside professional activities is to leisure (and therefore is borne by the individual) or to the institution. Finally, it is not clear how outside professional consulting influences faculty behavior and activities in the academic institution. The nature and extent to which faculty are influenced in their research priorities and academic objectivity by their outside professional relationships are almost wholly unexplored in the research literature.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Boyer, Carol M., and Darrell R. Lewis. "Faculty Consulting: Responsibility or Promiscuity?" JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION 55 (1984): 637-59

Golomb, Solomon W. "Faculty Consulting: Should It Be Curtailed?" NATIONAL FORUM: PHI KAPPA PHI JOURNAL 69 (1979): 34-37

Patton, Carl V. "Consulting by Faculty Members." ACADEME: BULLETIN OF THE AAUP 66 (1980): 181-85

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