Academic job satisfaction from an international comparative perspective: Factors associated with satisfaction across 12 countries

Peter James Bentley, Hamish Coates, Ian R. Dobson, Leo Goedegebuure, V. Lynn Meek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


In many ways, the academic profession is one of the “key professions” in the knowledge society. Academics hold central positions in the knowledge society through their traditional roles as producers of knowledge and educators of knowledge workers. Universities are also emerging as a key source of innovation and economic and social development, taking on responsibilities previously in the realm of business and government (Etzkowitz et al. 2007). However, the positive and opportunistic outlook of university-driven innovation is contingent upon individual academics successfully adapting to these new roles and balancing competing demands. Across a wide range of studies, job satisfaction has been shown to correlate significantly with job performance, with the strongest correlation found in jobs requiring complexity and autonomy (Judge et al. 2001). Change has always been a key feature of the university and the academic profession, but academics have rarely played a positive role in initiating or supporting institutional reform. Almost without exception, academics defend traditions and the status quo, regardless of whether such traditions serve the long-term interest of the university (Altbach 1980). The university’s durability can be partly credited to the conservatism of the professoriate. Conservatism protects the university from ill-advised change or change for the sake of change. On the other hand, conservatism can also obstruct desirable change. Undoubtedly, the rise of the knowledge society envisages changes to traditional academic roles, and a motivated academic workforce, satisfied with their reconstructed academic jobs, is most likely to produce the greatest benefit to research, innovation and society. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that stakeholders seeking to influence the university’s role in the knowledge society understand what motivates academics in their everyday work. This, of course, is equally true for those in charge of our universities, be they vice chancellors, deans, heads of school or research directors.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJob Satisfaction around the Academic World
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789400754348
ISBN (Print)9789400754331
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

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