Nate points out a journal I haven’t seen before – Worlplace – in the latest issue that are some really nice essay, including thing one – “Theses on College and University Administration: A Critical Perspective” by John F. Welsh (.PDF) – here’s a taste:

Thesis 3: The Peter Principle does not operate in higher education. Certainly, administrators find their level of incompetence, usually sooner rather than later, but that does not preclude their upward movement in the hierarchy. The Peter Principle is based on the assumption that the performance of roles at the apex of the organization requires superior competence. In higher education, competence matters only at the base of the organization to achieve the teaching, scholarship, and service missions of colleges and universities. Competent performance in the organization is necessary only by departmental administrative assistants, faculty, and students. Beginning at the level of departmental chair and proceeding upward, “effective administration” is largely a non sequitur as far as the academic life of colleges and universities is concerned.

Thesis 5: Accountability, therefore, is not a reciprocal or interactive dynamic within colleges and universities. Accountability is a one-way process of surveillance and subordination of faculty, students, and staff to the policy dictates of political and economic elites. Colleges and universities are not sanctuaries and they are not autonomous. They are elements of the state capitalist system. As such, they both reflect and reinforce the basic organizational principles of state capitalism: organizational resources are mobilized to expand the control of the state over individuals and groups in order to maximize profit, and to ensure political order through obedience to political and corporate authority. The reduction of management and leadership skills in higher education to the

service of the state and private capital provides an organizational field for corrupt and predatory behaviors to emerge and flourish.

Thesis 7: Strategic management, personnel evaluation, assessment, and public relations are the primary means by which administration expands its control over faculty, students, and staff. “Accountability” is the fixed idea that legitimates predation and the expansion of administrative control.

Thesis 17: Faculty senates and collective bargaining units have little function in higher education beyond the ritual subjugation of faculty to administrative, economic, and state power. Targets of administrative abuse are either left to their own resources to fight the organization, or they are forced to band with other targets in spontaneous and unmediated forms of rebellion that do not fit neatly within the universe of administratively sanctioned behaviors.

2 thoughts on “Workplace

  1. hi Mikhail,
    I have really mixed feelings about #17. I’m also unsure about the meaning of this phrase: “Faculty senates and collective bargaining units.” It seems to me it could mean either “Faculty senates and faculty collective bargaining units” or it could read “collective bargaining units and faculty senates,” where “collective bargaining units” which would mean all unionized bargaining units. How did you read it?

  2. It seems that it’s the situation I posted about later (about community college firings of a contracted employee who was reinstated but not the adjunct who was fired under the same ridiculous circumstances) – in many places, especially community colleges, faculty senates or any sort of organizations that represent faculty’s interests are very weak (Shahar might know more about it, he’s more on the front lines than I am). AAUP which is a professional organization has only an advisory status in many cases, and only interferes in cases of major abuse of tenure system, but it doesn’t really have any real power, it seems. I read thesis 17 as deflating some of the faculty’s sense of power, because in reality in many cases they can’t make really important decisions…

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