On (and off) the hot seat: An analysis of entry into and out of university administration

John M. McDowell, Larry D. Singell, Mark Stater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The authors investigate economists' decisions to enter and exit department chair positions in researchintensive economics departments of elite universities during the postwar era (1948-1989). They use the American Economic Association Survey of Members as well as phone surveys to determine which, and at what point in their careers, faculty assume administrative positions. The theoretical model predicts and empirical results confirm that a faster rate of knowledge depreciation in an economist's field of study reduces the entry and exit rates for the chair position. Moreover, among those who have exited the position of chair, longer terms of past chair service and faster knowledge depreciation accelerate the timing of movements into upper-level administration. The findings suggest that administrators are to some extent made and not born, and that the growing specialization and technical nature of many professions could affect who chooses administrative careers and at what point in their careers they choose them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)889-909
Number of pages21
JournalIndustrial and Labor Relations Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Academic administration
  • Career timing
  • Competing risks
  • Duration modeling
  • Knowledge depreciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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