Examining junior faculty work-life balance in public affairs programs in the United States

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Journal of Public Affairs Education


Transitioning from doctoral student to assistant professor involves many changes for junior faculty beginning tenure-track careers. Research, teaching, and service demands, on top of adjusting to a new home environment, create tremendous pressures on tenure-lined, junior faculty members to adapt and perform. By understanding influences of junior faculty work-life balance, departments can become more aware of the unique, individual needs to help make their junior faculty successful, both personally and professionally. Drawing on social exchange theory, this study utilizes surveys to junior faculty in all NASPAA-accredited, public affairs programs in the United States. Data are analyzed using structural equation modeling and demonstrates that workload, presence of work-life balance policies, and stress have a significant direct impact on work-life balance satisfaction of junior faculty. The findings from this research have significant implications for universities that want to “care for/tend to” and retain their junior faculty members, as junior faculty success impacts the prestige of the program, school, and university through their scholarly achievements, teaching contributions, and service activities.

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