Intellectual collegiality and leadership in the neoliberal reflexive university

Carroll, Jillian (2016) Intellectual collegiality and leadership in the neoliberal reflexive university. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Since the introduction of neoliberal governance to higher education in Australia, following the 1988 Dawkins Reforms, the traditional concept of collegiality has been reconfigured. The implementation of new public management (NPM) governance and control techniques have resulted in power now being consolidated in the executive of higher education institutions. In their role as producers for the knowledge economy, universities are now subject to both global and domestic market forces and the directives of external governmentality. This means Vice-Chancellors, academic managers and research and teaching academics are continuously acting reflexively to accommodate and satisfy external requirements. For example, the implementation of neoliberal core policies such as ‘student choice’ in 2012, or demand led provision of university student places, has resulted in long term planning becoming more difficult for both Vice-Chancellors and academic managers. They are now consumed with the need to continuously adjust their plans to respond to the latest market crisis or governmental policy initiative issued to optimize market efficiency or assure quality standards. Given that governance in higher education has shifted from a social liberal framework to a neoliberal framework in Australia since 1988, this thesis employs a Foucauldian analytical framework to analyse how eleven academics, seven of whom are academic managers, located in two departments in a humanities faculty in a well-established university, perceive the managerial discourse. It secondly, seeks to explore the strategies they adopt to respond to this discourse while protecting their disciplinary and values based sub-culture. This process involves holding open ended interviews with these participants in order to identify and analyse their lived experience of the nature of the managerial discourse and its impact on their academic values and practice. The study finds the academic participants interviewed perceive they have limited and declining capacity to influence the managerial discourse. This is due not only to the consolidation of power in the executive but the imposition of an audit culture over the previous collegial culture. Centralized integrated management systems, designed and controlled by the executive in order to assure corporate performance and quality requirements are satisfied, are deployed throughout the organisation. However, despite the academic participants interviewed in this study perceiving that they have little or no power to influence the corporate managerial discourse, these academics emerge as much more than managed academics. Their far more complex identity is a result of their capacity to work as a community of scholars at the departmental level to shape a culture of intellectual sharing and leadership in their respective departments. This strategy continuously reminds them that they are first and foremost intellectuals.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1301 Education Systems
Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Education
Keywords higher education, policy, university culture, identity construction, administration, management systems, governance, services delivery, leadership, resistance, alternative scholaly community, neoliberalism, neoliberal managerial discourse, Australia
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login