ERG SES D 03, Policies of Education
Mats Alvesson in his last book, “The triumph of emptiness”, provocatively asks: “Perhaps, democracy is no longer benefitting from further increases in higher education?” (Alvesson 2013, pp. 97). My answer is: yes. The ability of universities, public and private, to be socially and culturally responsible for democratization processes has been weakened considerably in the last years-both in Europe and USA (Arum, Roksa 2011). Changing academia – at supra-national level (for example Bologna Process in Europe), national level and institutional level – has been connected with adapting the corporate model of university (Tuchman 2011) with a new forms of accountability, growing numbers of ranking lists and performance indicator schemes. Market fundamentalism (Alvesson 2013) as a main pathology of corporate model of university takes effect in the erosion of teaching and learning – the most important functions of academia (Biesta 2013) which decide about the ability to fulfil its cultural, civic mission.
Models popular within the mainstream theories of management and organization, such as evolutionary and teleological are not able to describe such processes of change because of their being situated within the functionalist paradigm and thus operating on the assumption about natural adaptability to social (and market) environments. Instead, cultural models of change (Deetz et al. 2000) particularly the concept of translation of ideas (Czarniawska, Sevón eds. 1996, 2005), seem to be a useful model for the type of change I consider pivotal for the contemporary university.
It is then worth to ask the following question: to which extent corporatization of European universities results from the imitation of American idea of corporate university? Is it a fashion or just a simple isomorphism between universities and corporations? For sure, there is no reason to assume that universities are not following managerial and organizational fashions like everybody else. But if it is a fashion then problem might be very paradoxical. According to the observation made by two well-known theoreticians of fashion, Simmel (1904/1971) and Blumer (1969/1973), fashion is a highly paradoxical process. Its constitutive paradoxes are invention and imitation, variation and uniformity, distance and interest, novelty and conservatism, unity and segregation, conformity and deviation, change and status quo, revolution and evolution. And it is translation, side by side with negotiation, that is used to resolve these paradoxes in each practical action (Tarde 1890/1962).
The main aim of this paper is to describe the process of influencing European university by the ideas connected with corporate model of academia. In that context the main research questions are:
To which extent corporatization of European universities results from the spreading of American ideas of the corporate university? Does it include the process of translation of this idea in order to fit it to the local environment – or maybe changes are introduced by the copy/paste methods and are connected with isomorphism with taken-for-granted corporate model treated as a master idea? What are the consequences – especially in the teaching/learning processes – connected with those changes? How does European higher education provide the possibility to defend the university as a counter institution from the corporatization process and to develop critical thinking in the teaching/learning process?
Alvesson, M. (2013), The Triumph of Emptiness: Consumption, Higher Education, and Work Organization, Oxford, OUP. Alvesson, M, Bridgman, T., Willmott, H. eds. (2009), The Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies, Oxford University Press. Arum, R., Roksa, J. (2011), Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, Chicago, University of Chicago Press. Biesta, G. (2013), Balancing the Core Activities of Universities: for a University That Teaches, in: R. Sugden, M. Valania, J. Wilson eds., Leadership and Cooperation in Academia. Reflecting on the Roles and Responsibilities of University Faculty and Management, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, pp. 32-42. Blumer, H. G. (1969/1973), Fashion: From class differentiation to collective selection, in: D. Midgley, G. Wills eds., Fashion marketing, London, Allen & Unwin, pp. 327-340. Czarniawska, B., Sevón, G. eds. (1996), Translating Organizational Change, Berlin-NY, Walter de Gruyter. Czarniawska, B., Sevón, G. eds. (2005), Global Ideas: How Ideas, Objects and Practices Travel in the Global Economy (Advances in Organization Studies), Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School Press. Deetz, S., Tracy, S., Simpson, J. (2000), Leading Organizations Through Transitions: Communication and Cultural Change, CA, Thousand Oaks, Sage. Kostera, M. (2005), The Narrative Collage as a Research Method, “Storytelling, Research, Society”, Vol. 2, Issue 2, pp. 5-27. Sherman, R. R., Webb, R. B. eds. (2005), Qualitative Research in Education: Focus and Methods, London-New York, Routledge-Falmer-Taylor & Francis. Simmel, G. (1904/1971), Fashion, in: D. N. Levine ed., Georg Simmel on Individuality and Social Forms, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, pp. 294-323. Tarde, G. (1890/1962), The laws of imitation, New York, Henry Holt. Tuchman, G. (2011), Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
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Network 10. Teacher Education Research
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Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
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Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
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Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
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