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What's Happening to Our Universities?

Ben Martin

Working Papers from Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge

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 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I23 I28 J29 J58 L38 M19 O32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-sog
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (6) Track citations by RSS feed

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Working Paper: What is Happening to our Universities? (2016) Downloads
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