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Centralisation and devolution through corporate managerialism in American and Australian Universities

Currie, J. and Vidovich, L. (1997) Centralisation and devolution through corporate managerialism in American and Australian Universities. In: 1997 Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, 30 November - 4 December 1997, Brisbane, Australia


Commentators in Australia and the United States have observed that the shift in power in universities from academic departments to administration has been accompanied by a number of changes, leading to 'corporate managerialism'. As a result, managers make the most important decisions and make them quickly. These managers also restructure their institutions to mould them into streamlined operations which allow only a few people in the whole organisation the information base to make decisions. At the same time, these managers devolve administrative tasks to divisions and departments where Executive Deans have increasing power. The result is that academics have a lot less control over their institutions. This paper narrates the views of 253 academics interviewed in six American and Australian universities from 1994-1997 about how these changes have affected their universities. It explores how various forms of managerialism are applied in these universities and how academics try to resist them. It also comments on how some universities have managed to maintain forms of democratic decision-making at certain levels but have lost consultative mechanisms about major changes. It concludes by discussing why participatory forms of democracy are important in universities and suggests ways of increasing them.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Australian Association for Research in Education
Copyright: 1997 AARE
Conference Website:
Notes: Appears In: 1997 AARE Conference papers (Paper code: CURRJ97123)
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