Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Paper Session #318
Systems, Equifinality, and Faculty Equity at Universities: Unintended Consequences of Performance Metrics
Sunday, May 29, 2022
4:00 PM–4:25 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 153C
Area: OBM
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Douglas Robertson (Florida International University)
Systems, Equifinality, and Faculty Equity at Universities: Unintended Consequences of Performance Metrics
Domain: Theory
DOUGLAS ROBERTSON (Florida International University), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
Abstract: The issue is old: if all you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail. In this case, the hammer constitutes performance metrics. This presentation focuses on unintended consequences of performance metrics on equity issues and faculty appointment types in public metropolitan research universities. The contrasting appointment types are: (a) Permanent (more secure, higher paid, research-oriented, tenured positions), and (b) Contingent (less secure, lower paid, teaching-oriented, non-tenured positions). Appointment types are analyzed by intersectional categories of Gender and Race/Ethnicity. Equifinality within complex dynamical systems, such as universities and organizations in general, refers to taking different paths to similar outcomes. The presentation examines three public metropolitan research universities that have pursued with “lazar focus” selected performance metrics related to funding and rankings. These three universities have achieved significant improvement in a short period. The three paths to exemplary performance in narrowly selected metrics have different outcomes with regard to faculty equity issues. This paper extends an 11-year line of research on intentional systemic change in large organizations, specifically, public metropolitan research universities (e.g., Robertson, 2019, 2020; Robertson & Pelaez, 2016, 2018; Robertson, Pelaez, & Santiago Perez, 2021; also relevant as context, Robertson, 1992).



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