September 24, 2007

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

...While the bullying phenomenon does not lend itself to ‘robust conclusions with regard to causality’, I have postulated that the reason why the incidence of bullying in universities is becoming more pronounced may be correlated with the move to corporatisation. The perception on the part of managers that they are the new elite whose role is to increase productivity and maximise limited resources through constant surveillance and auditing has contributed to the normalisation of a corrosive form of leadership.

Di Martino suggests that we tackle the causes, rather than the effects of violence at work by developing a preventive, systemic and targeted approach. This is all very well in theory, but it would require rolling back the corporatist phenomenon and reinstating principles of collegiality to allow a range of voices to be heard. I am sceptical about such a rollback, at least in the short term. Not only is it apparent that governments are expecting universities themselves to assume greater responsibility for their operating costs, the new managerialism has created a class of powerful players with a substantial investment in its retention.

Thus, while initiatives, such as the development of codes of practice by occupational health and safety bodies and unions, are contributing to the emergence of a new public discourse, such
codes are incapable of addressing the factors that have contributed to the political economy of the corporatist university. Educative and prophylactic measures are highly desirable, but they can go only so far in an unstable and uncertain climate, where students are customers and academics are productive units, whose value is assessed primarily in terms of the competitive dollars they generate. 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

From: Corrosive Leadership (Or Bullying by Another Name): A Corollary of the Corporatised Academy? By Margaret Thornton, La Trobe University, Australia.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just received a response to my grievances which can be falsified by only looking at the contradictory statements made.

They claimed that I asked that no one should ask me to do a certain type of work, then in another paragraph they claimed that I volunteered to carry out that type of work and that no one asked me to do so!!!

They then claimed that I refused to do that type of work without giving my manager any reasons. But then they claimed that I disclosed my tragic personal circumstances to my manager without stating to him that those circumstances were the reason for not carrying out that work, although they admit that such disclosure was done immediately after refusing to do the work. They stated that my manager, who subsequently reported me for refusing to do that work, was "supportive" of my circumstances.


I think with this logic, I just won the case.