The Death of Socrates: Managerialism, metrics and bureaucratisation in universities (2016)

Yancey Orr, Raymond Orr, The Death of Socrates Managerialism, metrics and bureaucratisation in universities, Australian Universities Review, vol. 58, no. 2 September 2016

Abstract

Neoliberalism exults the ability of unregulated markets to optimise human relations. Yet, as David Graeber has recently illustrated, it is paradoxically built on rigorous systems of rules, metrics and managers. The potential transition to a market-based tuition and researchfunding model for higher education in Australia has, not surprisingly, been preceded by managerialism, metrics and bureaucratisation (rendered hereafter as ‘MMB’) in the internal functioning of universities in the last decade. This article explores the effects of MMB on the lives of academics, the education of students, and the culture and functioning of universities. By examining some of the labour activities of academics, work scheduling and time use, we demonstrate that MMB reduces the efficiency and quality of academic teaching, research and administration. Even more worrying, by qualitatively assessing the language, values and logic increasingly present in the academic culture of higher education in Australia, we show that MMB does not simply fail to improve universities or accurately assess academic achievement, it replaces the core values of education with hollow bureaucratic instrumentalism.

Keywords: bureaucratisation, managerialism, metrics, transvaluation of values

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