I have just read a post to the Critical Perspectives on Work, Management and Organization email list which I thought deserved to be escalated – a message on the closure of Keele’s Economics and Management Programme (see below for a previous post on this topic) which I felt deserved a wider audience, notwithstanding its cynicism and pessimism. So here it goes:
‘What can we do to help Keele, Who knows? We’ll probably do nothing. We’ve done nothing about the managerialization / commercialisation of higher education, other than publish papers about it! We’ve done nothing serious or meaningful to resist QAA or RAE and ironically in publishing about these evidently dangerous developments we’ve wilfully added to our respective B schools’ RAE scores and of course our own individual research profiles / career prospects. That’s what we do best – or worst – depending on your point of view. The previous email responses to the Keele crisis almost seem to suggest we see ourselves as a collective interest group. Are we? We are, I suppose, we’re against managerialism but only in terms of the sharing of our theories and theoretical concepts and perceptions of what is seemingly going on in HE or in any industrial or business sector. But would a Foucauldian or Nietzscheian reading, or the thoughts of Lacan, Laclau, Mouffe, Derrida, Lyotard (see any ‘special edition you care to consult) help us understand, address or fight to challenge the situation now facing colleagues at Keele. Possibly! I dread to think someone may unashamedly soon write a paper about this situation from one of these standpoints. And make no mistake, when the dust settles, he or she, or they, probably will. And why not, how else will he, she or they get to that sun bleached Californian CMS venue next summer!
Sorry for the cynicism, but the fight was lost long ago. I refer you to a quote from a book by Joseph Boskin and Robert Rosenstone ‘Seasons of Rebellion’ (1972: 121):
“We are surrounded by solemn, pretentious arguments about what Marx, or Machiavelli or Rousseau really meant, about who was right and who was wrong – all of which is another way the pendant has of saying “I’m right and you are wrong”. Too much of what passes for theoretical discussion of public issues is really a personal duel for honour or privilege – with each discussant like the character in Catch-22 who saw every event in the world as either a feather in his cap or a black eye – and this while men and women were dying all around him”…’ (Frank Worthington, email to Critical-Management email list, 18 December 2007)
Let’s hope our joint effort at escalating messages makes the escalator go upwards, not downwards.