“The Last in the Food Chain”: Dignity of Polish Junior Academics and Doctoral Candidates in the Face of Performance Management

  • Michał ZawadzkiEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)


The main aim of this chapter is to explore the relation between performance management at Polish university and the dignity of junior academics as well as doctoral students. Dignity is a feature that allows a human to fully accomplish his humanity. It signifies the ability to sense one’s own worth, as well as respect both for oneself and for other people. On the one hand, following the reasoning of Immanuel Kant, dignity is a moral category that does not require any preconditions to be fulfilled: it belongs to every human by the very reason of being a human. On the other hand, dignity is not only an immanent feature of the human, but it also represents a potentiality that should be updated, that is perfected in action. There is a growing number of critics who claim that modern changes of the university, based on the market fundamentalism and performance management paradigm, undermine the academic dignity, culture, ethos and trust and weaken the cultural mission of the university. The current fashion to reform the public sector in Poland using the market and overeconomized model of New Public Management leads to implementing a performance-based imperative for managing academia and reinforces the negative results of the managerial revolution that began within the higher education institutions already in the mid-twentieth century. I focus on the following question: how instrumental, neoliberal reforms of the university affect the academic dignity, which is dependent on the autonomy, freedom, humanistic quality of management processes, discursive and deliberative communication, research and teaching courage, space for resistance and nonconformity? I present the first reflections concerning the in-depth interviews I made with Polish doctoral candidates and junior academics who decided to go away to Sweden. So far, there have been no research projects about performance management and dignity of academics at Polish universities, which means that we are dealing with a significant cognitive gap in the humanistic management discourse.


Performance Management Doctoral Student Temporary Contract Doctoral Candidate Postdoctoral Researcher 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Culture, Jagiellonian UniversityKrakówPoland

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