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Competitive Accountability in Academic Life

The Struggle for Social Impact and Public Legitimacy

Richard Watermeyer

This book considers how a culture of ‘competitive accountability’ in UK higher education produces multiple tensions, contradictions and paradoxes that are destabilizing and deleterious to the work and identities of academics as research scientists. It suggests the potential of a new discourse of scientific accountability, that frees scientists and their public communities from the absurdities and profligacy of ‘performativity’ and ‘managerial governmentality’ encountered in the REF and an impact agenda – the noose of competitive accountability – and a more honest and meaningful public contract.
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Chapter 8: Paradoxes of competitive accountability

Richard Watermeyer

Extract

This final chapter reflects on three specific characteristics of REF impact which illuminate the influence of competitive accountability in producing undesirable behaviours and motivations among academics and their institutions. These are used as a conceptual foundation that leads to ten paradoxes which unpick the efficacy of competitive accountability as that which informs and defines academic praxis in the contemporary UK university.

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