Democracy is best

November 24, 2006

Brian Leftow's opinion article (November 9) and Michael Shattock's book ("Oxford set to vote on ending self-governance", November 9) both seem to support the idea that where there is real democracy and involvement in the running of the university by the peer group, then institutional performance is improved.

Let me add the occupational psychologist's perspective. It can be very difficult to get involved in the running of the institution when senior managemers are distrustful. This produces the inevitable "them" and "us" syndrome and the feeling that the academics' locus of control is so far outside themselves they cannot identify the strategic goals of the institution nor participate in the processes to achieve them. Dissatisfied and disenfranchised staff produce poor work, poor relationships with their students and poor organisational performance. No wonder they languish at the bottom of the league tables.

Karen Powell-Williams.
Westminster University

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