Higher Education

, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 687–699 | Cite as

Employability, managerialism, and performativity in higher education: a relational perspective

  • Senia KalfaEmail author
  • Lucy Taksa


This article combines Bourdieu’s concepts of field, habitus and cultural capital with Lyotard’s account of performativity to construct a three-tiered framework in order to explore how managerialism has affected the academic habitus. Specifically, this article examines the adoption of group assignments as a means of developing teamwork skills in one Australian case study organisation. On a macrolevel, by viewing the employability imperative as one manifestation of managerialism in the higher education field, we argue that managerialism has created a performative culture in the case study organisation evidenced by an increasing emphasis on performance indicators. On a mesolevel, by examining how academics use group assessments to respond to demands made by governments and employers for ‘employable graduates’, we highlight the continuity of academic habitus. Finally, on a microlevel by drawing on alumni reflections regarding their experiences of group assessments at university, we are able to shed some light on their evaluation of this pedagogical tool.


Managerialism Performativity Employability Higher education Teamwork 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marketing and Management, Faculty of Business and EconomicsMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Management, Faculty of Business and EconomicsMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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