Poll points to distrust of 'petty' managers

December 18, 2008

"Wholly ineffective and probably incapable of running a whelk stall," was one of the less flattering opinions of managers expressed in a survey of higher education staff.

Other responses included a lecturer's description of university leaders as "top-down petty bureaucrats whose main interest is in making money", and a professor's complaint that "at senior level the quality of management and leadership is unacceptable - there is a serious lack of accountability".

The comments were made to researchers who investigated levels of trust in higher and further education institutions. They presented their results last week to the Society for Research into Higher Education.

Around 40 per cent of respondents identified problems with the management culture of their institution, with a majority of these feeling that their leaders had "high concern for the task, low concern for the people".

Of the 145 participants, 65 had significant concerns about poor leadership and a lack of values among managers, with one programme leader from a London university citing "countless examples of middle and senior managers who lack breadth of view and are defensive".

"They tend to miss out on opportunities, put down people with things to offer, demotivate people around them (and) foster ineffective practices," they said.

There were also a significant number of respondents who were positive, with a third of those surveyed saying their managers had "high concern for outcomes and high concern for people".

The paper, by Jill Jameson of the University of Greenwich, concludes that a significant number of academics feel they are living in an era of increasingly managerialist attitudes, while "values-based" leadership is lacking.

"Academic staff found it hard to trust coercive managers: they could, and did, by contrast, resist 'new managerialist' trends," says the report.

john.gill@tsleducation.com.

Please login or register to read this article.

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Viewed

Universities in most nations are now obliged to prioritise graduate career prospects, but how it should be approached depends on your view of the meaning of education. Academics need to think that through much more clearly, says Tom Cutterham

The University of Oxford is top in a list of the best universities in the UK, which includes institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

26 September

Most Commented

Most universities still rely on exams and assessed essays to grade their students. But as the fourth industrial revolution, employability and student satisfaction all rise up the agenda, many experts are suggesting that assessment needs to much more closely resemble real-world tasks. Anna McKie marks the arguments   

23 May

Universities in most nations are now obliged to prioritise graduate career prospects, but how it should be approached depends on your view of the meaning of education. Academics need to think that through much more clearly, says Tom Cutterham

Sponsored