Brendan Foley

Publication Date


Faculty Advisor

Dr. Natalie Nelson-Marsh


Communication Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


This study uses narrative inquiry and semi-structured interviews to discuss the nature of tenure’s influence on identity. The location used for this project was a private institution in the pacific northwest of the United States and follows six professor’s experience gaining tenure, the barriers and boundaries they faced, and how that shaped their identities and relationships. The body of theory that grounds this paper comes from critical/postmodern-paradigm Organizational Communication Theory and Identity Negotiation Theory. This study expands the knowledge of boundary work, uses Identity Negotiation Theory in organizational contexts, and co-construction of identity. The findings indicate that there are three main platforms tenure takes place in: teaching, research, and service. All of these aspects have boundaries co-created by other stakeholders in the university that create a trend of concertive control over the expected behavior and identities of the candidates. The professors explain their agency and adaptation to both fit in and push the mold on the expected performance of tenure, and how it achieving it was a stressful, but authentic process.

Author Supplied Keywords

Identity, Boundaries, Co-construction, Identity Negotiation Theory, Organizational Communication, Concertive control tenure, Relationships, Stress


Identity (Psychology); Teachers--Tenure; Communication in organizations--Research

Publication Information

CST-475A Communication Studies Senior Project.

Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

Document Type

Student Project