Research in Higher Education

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 457-469

First online:


  • Laura L. B. Barnes
  • , Menna O. Agago
  • , William T. Coombs

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between job-related stress and faculty intent to leave academia. The stress variables studied were reward satisfaction, institutional/departmental reputation, time commitment, departmental/institutional influence, and student interaction. We hypothesized that the relationship between these variables and faculty intent to leave academia would be moderated by interest in one's discipline and sense of community — an institutional fit variable. We also investigated the effects of academic discipline, tenure status, and gender on these relationships. Based on data from a national faculty survey of 3,070 full-time tenure-track faculty, results indicated that of the variables studied, the two major correlates of intent to leave academia were time commitment and sense of community; however, time commitment did not moderate the stressor-intent relationship. Though showing significant zero-order correlations with intent, when gender and tenure status were added to the hierarchical regression analyses containing the stressors and moderators, neither variable contributed meaningfully to the prediction of intent. Academic discipline classification (Biglan, 1973) contributed only 2% to explained variance. A prediction model that contained all stressors, both moderators, and the background variables of gender and academic discipline accounted for 25% of the variance in intent to leave academia.