Blogger Geekmommyprof says that adroit political skills are critical for tenure-track academics. She defines these skills as "the abilities to assess the balance of power and the hierarchy in your institution, understand[ing] what motivates other people and what their agendas are, where their loyaties lie, and work[ing] within those constraints and the constraints of the broader academic system to advance your own academic interests." For example, if a faculty member and "Prof Labhog" both desire additional lab space, "there are things that can tip the scale in your favor," GMP writes, such as your seniority or, conversely, drive to start up a research program as junior faculty. Political prowess is especially important for an academic who seeks funding, GMP writes. Savvy political skills can help a researcher to "get to know" a funding body program manager's agenda, and how it might best be shaped to fit their own research goals. "By listening to what the PM needs you can adjust your immediate proposal goals so that you come up with a proposal that fits very well with the program; it's a win-win situation for both," the blogger writes. In the end, GMP says, "academics are people, and political skills matter in all human interactions."
The Politics of Professorship
May 26, 2010