Managerial madness 2

March 14, 2003

Steven Schwartz's article on outdated university governance illustrates knee-jerk managerialist thinking. Management models imported wholesale from business are ill-adapted to a university context, where conditions of service and career incentives are distinctive. He ignores the need to build a broad consensus and confidence among the collective of academic staff on whom the university's performance depends.

University College London had a long and successful tradition of elected executive deans until a decade ago, when their key executive functions were transferred upwards. This proved so ineffective that the decision has just been taken to return to a system of executive deans.

Crucially, however, they will not be elected, thus destroying the legitimacy on which their relations with academic staff depend.

Philip Burnham
Department of anthropology
University College London

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