Governing Australia's Universities: The Managerial Strong-Arming of Academic Agency

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Zipin, Lew (2006) Governing Australia's Universities: The Managerial Strong-Arming of Academic Agency. Social Alternatives, 25 (2). pp. 26-31. ISSN 0155-0306


Through performance criteria tied to funding mechanisms, the Australian federal government exerts unprecedented degrees of control over resource-starved universities, submitting them to accountability demands and ‘market’ logics. A result has been severe decline in the autonomy not only of universities from external governance, but of academic staff from internal university governance. Ascending modes of managerial governance – associated with corporatising trends in many public sector institutions – are especially pernicious in the Australian university sector. As senior executives become more muscular, there is concomitant weakening of traditional governance bodies, such as academic boards, and even some powers of councils to whom managers are accountable. In consequence – as analysed in this article – academic working lives are regulated increasingly less by ‘representative’ bodies and processes, and more through everyday regimes of practice and relation that induce subconscious mentalities – tacitly internalised self-governing principles – which Foucault accordingly calls governmentalities. This paper explores how certain govern-mentalities emerge from strong-handed managerialism; how they are underpinned by institutionalised bullying; and how they operate to weaken the autonomy and agency of academics, channelling their practices and muting critical-ethical resistance.

Additional Information

Online ISSN: 1836-6600

Item type Article
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Historical > FOR Classification > 1301 Education Systems
Historical > FOR Classification > 1399 Other Education
Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Keywords ResPubID22264. Australian universities, university performance, university governance, managerial governance, management, academic agency, tertiary education, higher education, education policy, government influence, government control, bullying, academic autonomy
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