Leadership and Cooperation in Academia

Leadership and Cooperation in Academia

Reflecting on the Roles and Responsibilities of University Faculty and Management

Edited by Roger Sugden, Marcela Valania and James R. Wilson

Across the world academic institutions are being questioned by their stakeholders and pressured to change. Answering these questions requires that academics and professional managers in universities think about their work, its value and organisation. The book highlights the need for space and stimulus to reflect on the responsibilities, roles and expectations that they identify for themselves, and that others place upon them – then, they might be better able to understand and to act. Similarly, policymakers and higher education commentators need the space and stimulus to reflect on the role of universities. This book will provide this space and an invaluable contribution to the stimulus.

Chapter 5: Sense and sensibility in academia

Thomas Docherty

Subjects: business and management, management and universities, education, management and universities, politics and public policy, leadership

Extract

The governance of the modern University or Academy is, to some extent, haunted by an issue whose roots lie in the Enlightenment, where philosophers struggled to regulate the competing claims of sense (the operations of reason and intellect) and those of sensibility (the physical sensations of life as it is lived). One social model proposes the University as the site of Reason, of intellectual work untrammelled by the distractions of material accident; at the same time, the contemporary economic model sees the University as necessarily fully embroiled in the realm of ‘life-as-it-is-lived’, the life of productivity and of material wealth-production. One contemporary answer to the problem of how we ‘regulate’ the claims of sense and sensibility is to find a new vocabulary: we no longer explore these issues, but rather we ‘manage’ them. Within this construction of management, we thus find ‘reasonable’ modes of behaviour that nonetheless address the question of economy; and the result of this is the so-called ‘Value-for-Money’ agenda. VfM operates, in standard form, by a concentration on ‘the three Es’: we begin by making Economies (i.e. we cut funding); we then address Efficiency (i.e. we maximize output while minimizing input); and, miraculously, we thereby improve Effectiveness (i.e. we achieve more despite the funding cut). Central to this is the idea of endlessly improving efficiency.

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