Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paul Wienir

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard MacDonald

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Renstrom


Status inconsistency has been extensively investigated as an explanatory variable since the pioneering research of Lenski (1954). A wide range of substantive outcomes have been examined as dependent variables. The findings have been disparate. While a number of studies have found support for the concept, a substantial body of negative results have been reported.

Recently, a controversy has developed in the literature. On one side of the controversy are those who feel the concept has little value as an explanatory variable--adding nothing beyond status alone. Supporters of the concept see it as an important explanatory variable and a determinant of a number of substantive outcomes. Wilson and Zurcher (1978, 1979a, 1979b) have recently proposed that many of the negative findings may be due to methodological inadequacies, and they suggest new techniques better able to detect status inconsistency effects.

This research examined the explanatory usefulness of status inconsistency in relation to a substantive area of great interest to social scientists in the past decade--the rise of collective bargaining and unionism in higher education. This rapid rise of collective bargaining and the accompanying dramatic change of attitudes among professors has stimulated a great deal of research.

A number of variables have been examined as possible correlates or determinants of collective bargaining attitudes. Status variables have been found to be among the most important determinants of collective bargaining attitudes in higher education. The importance of status inconsistency has not been examined, however, in spite of the fact that status inconsistency has been found significantly related to outcomes of a similar nature and the theory strongly suggests its possible importance in relation to collective bargaining attitudes. The importance of the research lies in its departure from previous research. It examines for the first time the significance of status inconsistency in relation to collective bargaining attitudes. It is also important to the status inconsistency controversy because of its utilization of the newest methodological techniques to detect status inconsistency effects in this important substantive area.

The study employed three distinct dichotomous measures of status inconsistency based on the status variables of rank, education, and seniority. Seven dependent variables in three categories were examined: attitudinal, behavioral, and attitude change. Three control variables were employed: age, sex, and college. Two separate samples of data were examined, based on responses of faculty at Western Michigan University. The data was analyzed using Hopes Diamond Table techniques and regression analysis based on the Hope model.

The findings indicated little support for the status inconsistency hypotheses. While substantial directional support was indicated in the diamond tables, the regression analysis with controls indicated only two significant findings. Rank-seniority inconsistency was significantly related to the change in attitudes toward the use of strikes and both rank-seniority and rank-education inconsistency was significantly related to vote for certification of a collective bargaining agent, but in a direction opposite to that predicted. Important to the status inconsistency controversy was the fact that the explanatory value of status variables alone was no more important than status inconsistency variables.

The research concluded with discussion of complex nature of the status inconsistency phenomena. Based on the implications of this research suggestions were made which might improve the conceptualization and measurement of the variable and the ability of further research to detect status inconsistency effects.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access