Managerialism and the Transformation of the Academy


As we enter the twenty-first century, a new set of unexamined assumptions that may be labelled managerialism is coming to dominate university life. In spite of the changes that have been taking place, semantics have largely remained stable. As a result, there has been little recognition of a need to examine the transformation carefully and critically. This paper seeks to explicate the changes, show how they express a common managerialist philosophy and critically analyze them. It does so by dividing the topics to be discussed into two sections: People and Program. The first section shows how conceptual assumptions in regard to central components of the university have changed. Students are now thought of as consumers, administrators as managers, trustees as directors and faculty as employee stakeholders. These conceptual renderings are consistent with and support a managerialist philosophy. The second section shows how a previously accepted bright line between education and training has broken down so that what we thought of as education has become little more than ornamentation for what are basically training programs. In addition, the training programs have achieved a semantic victory by persuading us to refer to them as education. The program change is fully consonant with the people changes. The academy has become one more instance of the general management philosophy that dominates our societies. We have lost our role as autonomous critics and uncritically become a component of the larger arrangement.

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    This is a revised version of a paper presented at the conference Philosophy of Management 05 at St Anne’s College, Oxford 6–10 July 2005 organised by this journal.

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    It is interesting to note that in 1970 John Ladd made quite similar arguments about organisations from a thoroughly philosophic perspective. See: John Ladd ‘Morality and the Ideal of Rationality in Formal Organizations’ The Monist 54 no 4 (October 1970)

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    The most helpful reference for much of AGB’s documentation comes from the Internet. The address is: p 1

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    In a recent issue of this journal, two authors present an interesting argument indicating that this result is not necessary. See Arthur Krentz and David Cruise Malloy ‘Opening People to Possibilities: A Heideggerian Approach to Leadership’ Philosophy of Management Volume 5 Number 1 2005 pp 25–44.

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Enteman, W.F. Managerialism and the Transformation of the Academy. Philos. of Manag. 6, 5–16 (2007).

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