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Journal Article

Who Becomes a Tenured Professor, and Why? Panel Data Evidence from German Sociology, 1980–2013


Lutter,  Mark
Transnationale Diffusion von Innovationen, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Lutter, M., & Schröder, M. G. (2016). Who Becomes a Tenured Professor, and Why? Panel Data Evidence from German Sociology, 1980–2013. Research Policy, 45(5), 999-1013. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2016.01.019.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-D554-0
Prior studies that try to explain who gets tenure and why remain inconclusive, especially on whether non-meritocratic factors influence who becomes a professor. Based on career and publication data of virtually all sociologists working in German sociology departments, we test how meritocratic factors (academic productivity) as well as non-meritocratic factors (ascription, symbolic and social capital) influence the chances of getting a permanent professorship in sociology. Our findings show that getting tenure in sociology is strongly related to scholarly output, as previous studies have shown. Improving on existing studies, however, we show specifically that each refereed journal article and each monograph increases a sociologist's chance for tenure by 10 to 15 percent, while other publications affect odds for tenure only marginally and in some cases even negatively. Regarding non-meritocratic factors, we show that network size, individual reputation, and gender matters. Women get their first permanent position as university professor with on average 23 to 44 percent fewer publications than men; all else being equal, they are about 1.4 times more likely to get tenure than men. The article generally contributes to a better understanding of the role of meritocratic and non-meritocratic factors in achieving scarce and highly competitive job positions in academia.