Addressing Social Loafing on Faculty Committees
Journal of Legal Education, vol 67, no. 1, 2017
21 Pages Posted: 4 May 2016 Last revised: 9 Nov 2017
Date Written: May 3, 2016
Scholarly productivity reaps tangible internal and external rewards, while the "reward" for excellent faculty committee work performance often is additional committee work. Some faculty members perform substantial institution-sustaining committee work while others are institutional service work “social loafers”. This essay suggests this traditional workload distribution model may be unsustainable. Innovations in legal education are resulting in increased committee work while reductions in full-time faculty at many schools leave fewer faculty members available to do that work. Those currently doing the lion's share of the work may be unable, or unwilling, to take on additional committee work responsibilities. This article examines methods for avoiding an institutional governance crisis. Grounding the discussion in social science literature, it explores ways to engage more faculty members in committee work by creating accountability structures via smaller committees and evaluation of committee work contributions. It posits that evaluating committee work sets normative standards, potentially changing cultural expectations about institutional committee work participation. The appendix contains a sample committee work contribution evaluative rubric. The article also discusses an equitable solution to disparate committee workloads – providing those who consistently take on significant committee work responsibilities with a temporary release from committee work. This kind of workload release could help level the playing field and allow those who carry heavy committee workloads the opportunity to engage more fully in their scholarship. Throughout, the article discusses the implications of failing to address committee workload inequities and proposes ways to engage more faculty in the work necessary to maintain thriving self-governing educational institutions in today's changing legal environment.
Keywords: faculty, committee work, administrative work, higher education, work equity, faculty governance, faculty committees, universities, colleges, peer evaluation
JEL Classification: M54, Z00, J44, K00, J24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation