The spread of academic labor follows the trend of other professions. The idea of the professional usually evokes a generic image—the old-fashioned family doctor, for instance, who hung out his shingle—but now we have a much more variegated system of alpha and beta practitioners. And rather than the ideal of being independent and roughly equivalent to their peers, most professionals now work in hierarchical bureaucratic structures.Read More
No one should doubt that the future landscape for all professionals, including university professors, is shifting with the times. The "good old days" of earning an advanced degree and then joining the ranks of other aspiring professionals in a given cohort are ending. Yet, the global demand for "alpha" professionals with world-class skills has never been greater. As for the "beta" practitioners, the great stratification now underway globally will likely mean less career opportunity, reduced job security, lower salaries, and ultimately, diminished fulfillment. Understanding the essential qualitative differences between "alpha" and "beta" professionals carries currency in the 21st century.
Source: Williams, J J (2013, December 2), The Great Stratification, Chronicle of Higher Education.