Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Jay Dee

Second Advisor

Katalin Szelényi

Third Advisor

Karen H. Hunter


Do pre-tenure faculty have a voice at the workplace? As newer members of the academy, pre-tenure faculty members have much to contribute to their universities, but many are afraid to speak up because of implications for their tenure review. This qualitative study examined the organizational, relational, and individual factors that influence pre-tenure faculty's sense of voice, based on theories of organizational voice and silence. I interviewed 25 pre-tenure assistant professors at three public research universities and analyzed the data using a thematic analysis approach.

The findings indicate that the participants' pre-tenure status had a significant influence on their sense of voice. They wanted to contribute to improving their departments and institutions, but were cautious about the implications that speaking up would have on their tenure review. The organizational factors that influenced their sense of voice were departmental size, departmental climate, leader behavior, voice hierarchy, and academic discipline. Their relationships with department leaders, senior faculty, pre-tenure peers, and institutional colleagues shaped their sense of voice. Individual factors that influenced their sense of voice were gender, job options, prior work experience, age, and leadership experience.

Input from pre-tenure faculty is important for the success of higher education organizations. By understanding the factors that influence sense of voice for pre-tenure faculty, we can work toward fostering their voice. Recommendations for further research and for practice are also discussed.


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