The abundance of dual-career couples in academia has led many universities to implement partner-hiring policies and practices to extend a job offer to a candidate’s/employee’s partner to either recruit or retain the target hire. Most of the existing research in this area has focused on institutional policies and practices, with less attention given to the experiences of couples who have received such accommodations. The present study used a grounded theory method and qualitative interviews to analyze the process and perceptions of target hires and accommodated hires working in U.S. postsecondary institutions. Participants shared barriers they experienced, strategies employed to optimize their experience, and identified ways institutions can improve partner hiring processes.


hiring, professoriate, spousal hire, partner accommodation, organizational sense making, grounded theory

Author Bio(s)

Elisabeth Day McNaughtan, PhD, teaches in the college of media and communication at Texas Tech University. Her courses focus on interpersonal, small group, and leadership communication. Her research centers on the experiences of women in leadership roles. Jon L. McNaughtan, PhD, is an associate professor and department chair in the College of Education at Texas Tech University. His research seeks to enhance understanding of the roles and experiences of college leaders as they strive to empower and support employees and students. The majority of his scholarship is viewed through the Positive Organizational Scholarship lens. If you have any questions or are interested in discussing this study, please direct correspondence to jon.mcnaughtan@ttu.edu

Cameron C. Brown, PhD, is an associate professor in Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy at Texas Tech University where he trains the next generation of clinicians, educators, and researchers. He focuses his research on systemic health and well-being where he specifically looks at the intersections of physical, mental, and social health. Lastly, he is a licensed marriage and family therapist at a local mental health clinic in Lubbock, Texas.

Grant R. Jackson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Texas Tech University. His research centers on higher education leadership, teaching, and how often abstract principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging can be put into practice. Much of his research focuses on intergroup dialogue experiences that bring together people from different groups to effectively navigate difficult and controversial issues together.

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