March 23, 2007

Corrosive Leadership (Or Bullying by Another Name): A Corollary of the Corporatised Academy?

'The literature reveals that the incidence of bullying is increasing in corporate workplaces everywhere. While the data is scant, it suggests that bullying in universities is also on the increase. Interviews with Australian academics support this finding. It is argued that the trend has to be understood in light of the pathology of corporatisation, which is designed to make academics do more with less. The focus on productivity parallels the harassment to which workers in the private sector may be subjected in the hope that they will work harder and maximise profits. Avenues of redress are considered which show that dignitary harms remain inchoate as legal harms. While common law and anti-discrimination legislation regimes may occasionally offer a remedy to targeted individuals, it is averred that these avenues are incapable of addressing the causative political factors that induce corrosive leadership...

Powerful line managers, whose role it is to exhort greater
productivity from these unruly units, have made themselves indispensable in the transformation of universities as producers and facilitators of the new economy. Hence, the corporatised university, with its over-zealous managerialism, competition for resources and eviscerated notion of academic freedom, is likely to represent an ongoing source of grievance about workplace aggression. A formal avenue of redress will have to be devised to placate this dissonance. However, rather than relying on a traditional model of linear causality, which focuses on linking ‘victim’ and wrongdoer, a new remedial model would be better off addressing the political environment that has engendered the harm. A single-minded focus on psychopathic managers absolves corporations, including universities, from responsibility for the fear, the insecurity and the relentless pressure to be evermore productive that the market message induces.'

Margaret Thornton, Australian Journal of Labour Law, 2004 - Complete paper available online as pdf file.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds interesting - I was unable to access her paper. Came up with an error.

It's useful to move around bullying and view it from different understand how the government is changing universities into businesses...and how effortlessly they are able to do this...academics are too busy bullying each other to notice what is happening...

Aphra Behn