Freedom and autonomy in the university enterprise

Todd Bridgman (Victoria Management School, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Publication date: 10 July 2007

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to explore notions of enterprise as an instance of organizational change within university business schools, using a theoretical approach drawn from the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. Their concept of articulatory practice is useful for examining the management of knowledge workers across multiple levels of discourse, including policy, practice and processes of identification. Specifically, the paper aims to investigate the articulation of enterprise within government policy on higher education, management practices of directing, funding, measuring and regulating the activities of faculty in ways that seek to promote enterprise, as well as demonstrating how agents can resist attempts at top‐down managerial control through processes of self‐identification.

Design/methodology/approach

An empirical study consisting of an analysis of government reports on higher education along with 65 interviews conducted at six UK research‐led business schools.

Findings

At the level of government policy, the university is recast as an enterprise within a competitive marketplace where the “entrepreneurial academic” who commercializes research becomes the role model. However, management practices and identity processes amongst faculty reveal inconsistencies within the articulation of the university enterprise, to the extent that this idealised identity is marginalised within research‐led business schools in the UK.

Originality/value

The theoretical approach captures the dynamism of hegemonic projects across multiple levels, from policymaking to management practice and the constitution of identity. Laclau and Mouffe's conception of hegemony highlights mechanisms of control, while their assumption of radical contingency illuminates dynamics of resistance.

Keywords

Citation

Bridgman, T. (2007), "Freedom and autonomy in the university enterprise", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 478-490. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534810710760036

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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