32 SES 08, Diversity Development in/of Higher Education Organizations
Since World War 2, the role of the university has changed profoundly from being what one could term instruments of exclusion (Do, 2008) exclusively reserved for those beforehand privileged. Today universities to a higher degree are universities for the mass providing education for perpetually increasing amounts of students. Reflecting on this in terms of inclusion and exclusion one could readily arrive at the conclusion that University education has been democratized and a class struggle has been won.
However, this democratization has not only opened the university for those not included before(sic) whether this was the case because of ethnicity, gender, class or lack of funds. The sheer increased amount of students have organizational effects on the university (Bramming & Elkjær, 2017). From being more loosely coupled systems with covert organizational processes and intricate power relations (Cohen, March, & Olsen, 1972) to more resembling traditional private organizations with recognizable hierarchical structures, bureaucratic processes and professional management (Brunsson & Sahlin-Andersson, 2000; Seeber et al., 2015).
Simultaneous to the process where university educations become an increasingly common good the enrolled students are segmented by the organizational processes including them in the first place. Paolo Do (2008) refers to this process as a differential inclusion where segmentation does not happen outside the university but in the processes of being within.
When universities function like (or try to emulate corporate organizations), it seems that a great deal of the different kinds of corporate processes and technologies are taken in rather uncritically: managerial interventions, funding structures, teaching and research audits to mention some.
Diversity management is one other such corporate maxim in the time of the ‘new’ economy’ revolving around perpetual change, learning and human capital as the contemporary and future sources for value creation. In the words of Akseli Virtanen:”What defines economy and our experience of it today is that the bare humanness of human beings, that general potentiality and linguistic-relational abilities which make human beings human has entered economic production ‘as such’”(Virtanen, 2005). When organizations – and even societies as we see it in the Bologna declaration – crave value today it is precisely in terms of competences: more creativity, more entrepreneurship, more changeability, more learning and more knowledge in general – but also more ‘employability’ understood as ability to transform the before mentioned competences into productivity(Bloom, 2013; Kalfa & Taksa, 2012). As mentioned in the call for this network meeting: “Diversity management aims to use diversity as resource” or to put it more bluntly: if we are all the same kind, not much learning and creativity is expected to happen.
However, revisiting the starting point of this abstract universities at a glance seem to be in the unique position to reap the (corporal) fruits of diversity through the inclusion of more and more different types of students. Within newer critical management studies research (See for example: Alvesson & Willmott, 2002; Fleming & Sturdy, 2008; Gay, 2007; Haslam, Postmes, & Ellemers, 2003; Johnsen & Gudmand-Høyer, 2010; Johnsen, Muhr, & Pedersen, 2009; Lazzarato, 2004; Virtanen, 2005) it is a central point that the organization provides a lifeworld – a scene on which the drama of creating self’s and identities are played out. This means that the central question to ask ourselves within the study of organizational education is not whether or not to work with diversity, but how to understand the term inclusively.
The research question for this paper will therefore be, to understand the organizational space as performative practices when the organization has plenty of visible diversity, but strives for real inclusion. That is when we not only focus on visible aspects of diversity, such as race, gender, age, and physical ability, but also diversity of thinking, knowing and doing.
Methodology This paper will be a conceptual paper connected to a research project I am currently performing together with Professor Bente Elkjær, which is investigating education as an organizational task. This paper is inspired by performativity research by stressing that (organizational) life is processual and performative, open-ended and multiple, practiced and of the everyday (Beyes and Steyaert 2011:3). According to this view performativity theory is closely connected to ‘non-representational theory’ (Thrift, 2007) a term highlighting the essentially performative rather than representational nature of words and things. One obvious and intuitive condition of performativity is that categories are not natural or pre-given, but practiced. The mechanics of performativity, however, are less obvious and subject to different interpretations. Most performativity approaches would agree that reality is understood as incessant creation or practice (Barad, 2007; Beyes & Steyaert, 2011; Butler, 2010; Nash, 2000; Thrift, 2007). This approach resonates with the research question stated above, as it conceptualizes the organizational spaces as practiced life worlds wherein students create and are created. The organization – knowingly or by inference – creates possibilities and impossibilities for being and becoming which can be more or less inclusive both understood as democratic inclusiveness and inclusiveness of real diversity.
The paper is a conceptual paper outlining (some of) the consequences the organization of modern universities have on inclusion understood as the creation of opportunities for learning and knowledge creation as creating real differences. More and more organizations today are knowledge creating or are claiming to be so. Universities are – or should be- first among these. It is therefore necessary to uncover how corporate functions are performing in the university when striving for new learning and the creation of differential new knowledge. One could speculate that the mass university would draw the university more and more towards standardization and new public management techniques and practices– and fears are that this is indeed what is happening (Bleiklie, Enders, Lepori, & Musselin, 2011). This paper will approach the problematic not as a critique of neo liberalistic organizational forms, but rather will investigate how these new forms are performative.
Alvesson, M., & Willmott, H. (2002). Identity Regulation as Organizational Control: Producing the Appropriate Individual. Journal of Management Studies, 39(5), 619-644. doi:10.1111/1467-6486.00305 Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway - Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham & London: Duke University Press. Beyes, T., & Steyaert, C. (2011). Spacing organization: non-representational theory and performing organizational space. Organization(Published online before print April 7, 2011, doi: 10.1177/1350508411401946 ), 1-17. doi:10.1177/1350508411401946 Bleiklie, I., Enders, J., Lepori, B., & Musselin, C. (2011). New public management, network governance and the university as a changing professional organization. In T. Christensen & P. Lægreid (Eds.), The Ashgate Research Companion to New Public Management (pp. 161-176). Farnham, Surrey, USA: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. Bloom, P. (2013). Fight for your alienation: The fantasy of employability and the ironic struggle for selfexploitation. ephemera - theory and politics in organization, 13(4), 785-807. Bramming, P., & Elkjær, B. (2017). Education as a Core task of Universities – an organizational perspective. Paper presented at the ECER, Copenhagen. Brunsson, N., & Sahlin-Andersson, K. (2000). Constructing organizations: The example of public sector reform. Organization Studies, 21(4), 721-746. Butler, J. (2010). Performative Agency. Journal of Cultural Economy, 3(2), 147-161. Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. (1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative science quarterly, 17(1), 1-25. Do, P. (2008). No Future ephemera - theory and politics in organization, 8(3), 303-3011. Fleming, P., & Sturdy, A. (2008). “Just be yourself!”: Towards neo-normative control in organisations? Employee Relations,, 31(6), 14. Gay, P. d. (2007). Organizing identity: Persons and organizations ‘after theory’. Londres: Sage. Haslam, S. A., Postmes, T., & Ellemers, N. (2003). More than a Metaphor: Organizational Identity Makes Organizational Life Possible. British Journal of Management, 14(4), 357-369. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8551.2003.00384.x Johnsen, R., & Gudmand-Høyer, M. (2010). Lacan and the lack of humanity in HRM. Organization, 17(3), 331-344. doi:10.1177/1350508410363124 Johnsen, R., Muhr, S. L., & Pedersen, M. (2009). The frantic gesture of interpassivity. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 22(2), 202-213. doi:doi:10.1108/09534810910947217 Kalfa, S., & Taksa, L. (2012). Employability, managerialism, and performativity in higher education: a relational perspective. Higher Education, 1-13. Lazzarato, M. (2004). From Capital-Labour to Capital-Life. Ephemera, 4(3). Nash, C. (2000). Performativity in practice: some recent work in cultural geography. Progress in Human Geography, 24(4), 653-664. Seeber, M., Lepori, B., Montauti, M., Enders, J., de Boer, H., Weyer, E., . . . Reale, E. (2015). European Universities as Complete Organizations? Understanding Identity, Hierarchy and Rationality in Public Organizations. Public Management Review, 17(10), 1444-1474. doi:10.1080/14719037.2014.943268 Thrift, N. (2007). Non-Representational Theory - Space | politics | affect. New York: Routledge.
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