Managerialism and the neoliberal university: Prospects for new forms of "open management" in higher education
Peters, M. A. (2013). Managerialism and the neoliberal university: Prospects for new forms of ‘open management’ in higher education. Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, 5(1), 11–26.
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The restructuring of state education systems in many OECD countries during the last two decades has involved a significant shift away from an emphasis on administration and policy to an emphasis on management. The "new managerialism" has drawn theoretically, on the one hand, on the model of corporate managerialism and private sector management styles, and, on public choice theory and new institutional economics (NIE), most notably, agency theory and transaction cost analysis, on the other. A specific constellation of these theories is sometimes called "New Public Management," which has been very influential in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. These theories and models have been used both as the legitimation for policies that redesigning state educational bureaucracies, educational institutions and even the public policy process. Most importantly, there has been a decentralization of management control away from the center to the individual institution through a "new contractualism" - often referred to as the "doctrine of self-management" - coupled with new accountability and competitive funding regimes. This shift has often been accompanied by a disaggregation of large state bureaucracies into autonomous agencies, a clarification of organizational objectives, and a separation between policy advice and policy implementation functions, together with a privatization of service and support functions through "contracting out". The "new managerialism" has also involved a shift from input controls to quantifiable output measures and performance targets, along with an emphasis on short-term performance contracts, especially for CEOs and senior managers. In the interests of so-called "productive efficiency," the provision of educational serviceshas been made contestable; and, in the interests of so-called allocative efficiency state education has been progressively marketized and privatized. In this paper I analyze the main underlying elements of this theoretical development that led to the establishment of the neoliberal university in the 1980s and 1990s before entertaining and reviewing claims that new public management is dead. At the end of the paper I focus on proposals for new forms of "the public" in higher education as a means of promoting "radical openness" consonant with the development of Web 2.0 technologies and new research infrastructures in the global knowledge economy.
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