What is Happening to Our Universities?

29 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2016

See all articles by Ben Martin

Ben Martin

SPRU, University of Sussex; University of Cambridge - Judge Business School - Centre for Science and Policy (CSAP) and Centre for Business Research (CBR)

Date Written: January 1, 2016

Abstract

In recent decades, many universities have been moving in the direction of a more hierarchical and centralised structure, with top-down planning and reduced local autonomy for departments. Yet the management literature over this period has stressed the numerous benefits of flatter organisational structures, decentralisation and local autonomy for sections or departments. What might explain this paradox? And why have academics remained strangely quiet about this, meekly accepting their fate? The paper critically examines the dangers of centralised top-down management, increasingly bureaucratic procedures, teaching to a prescribed formula, and research driven by assessment and performance targets, illustrating these with a number of specific examples. It discusses a number of possible driving forces of these worrying developments, and concludes by asking whether academics may be in danger of suffering the fate of the boiled frog.

Keywords: universities, managerialism, bureaucracy, assessment, performance indicators, audit culture, boiled frog

Suggested Citation

Martin, Benjamin R., What is Happening to Our Universities? (January 1, 2016). SWPS 2016-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2745139 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2745139

Benjamin R. Martin (Contact Author)

SPRU, University of Sussex ( email )

The Freeman Centre, Jubilee Building
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BN1 9SL
United Kingdom
01273 873562 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/people/lists/person/1716

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School - Centre for Science and Policy (CSAP) and Centre for Business Research (CBR)

Top Floor, Judge Business School Building
Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

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