December 23, 2008

42% consider leaving!

When 42% consider leaving their job at a certain university, then you do know there is a problem - a managerial problem.

December 22, 2008

A senseless system graduates without honours

The 2008 university Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), whose results have been announced with a mixture of fear, loathing and exhaustion, is a classic example of the self-defeating performance-management drive that is overwhelming the public sector.

RAE results determine the research funding allocated to institutions by the Higher Education Funding Council, according to a formula that changes each time. The official line is that the assessment - 2008's is the sixth since 1986 - is a success. It is "important and valuable", to quote one vice-chancellor, in providing an accepted quality yardstick and a means of promoting UK universities abroad. Others argue that it helps to ensure accountability for £8bn of public funding, the largest single chunk of university income. That sounds plausible: but as usual it conveniently airbrushes out other costs and consequences.

The first and most obvious of these is colossal bureaucracy. Government blithely assumes that management is weightless; but the direct cost of writing detailed specifications and special software, and assembling 1,100 panellists to scrutinise submissions from 50,000 individuals in 2,500 submissions, high as it already is, is dwarfed by the indirect ones - in particular, the huge and ongoing management overheads in the universities themselves. As with any target exercise, the RAE has developed into a costly arms race between the participants, who quickly figure out how to work the rules to their advantage, and regulators trying to plug the loopholes by adjusting and elaborating them.

The result is an RAE rulebook of staggering complexity on one side and, on the other, the generation of an army of university managers, consultants and PR spinners whose de facto purpose is not to teach, nor make intellectual discoveries, but to manage RAE scores. As in previous assessments, a lively transfer market in prolific researchers developed before the submission cut-off date at the end of 2007, while, under the urging of their managers, many university departments have been drafting and redrafting their submissions for the past three years.

Meanwhile, the figures themselves can be interpreted in so many different ways that even insiders find them hard to comprehend. How many parents will know that, because the rules and ranking system has changed so much since 2001, it's difficult to identify performance trends? That departments nominally teaching the same subject may figure under different assessment panels, so here too direct comparison is difficult? That some numbers are bafflingly rounded, while from the figures given it is impossible to calculate how many of a department's staff have been submitted for the assessment exercise, and thus its "real" research strength?

Not surprisingly, as the monster has become increasingly unwieldy, the intervals between the ever more onerous audits has steadily lengthened. After a gap that has stretched to seven years this time, RAE 2008, the last of the present format, is expiring exhausted - although it will rise again in 2013 as a system based on 'metrics', or citations, that promises to be equally controversial.

In the meantime, though, many thoughtful academics believe that much damage has been done. On a systems view, you can't optimise one part of a system without affecting others. In the university context, what suffers from the research obsession ("publish or perish") is teaching, especially undergraduate teaching. It's not much use students choosing a university with internationally known researchers if the researchers are too busy to teach. A teaching assessment exercise turned out to be too nightmarishly bureaucratic even for this government and has been abandoned.

Within research, there is little doubt that target pressure has distorted priorities, forcing researchers to work within the tight guidelines of a few established publications, discouraging unconventional views and making unpredictable discovery all but impossible.

Somewhat ironically, the narrow horizons have a particularly perverse effect in economics and business studies, where, judging by today's melted-down financial sector, "paradigm shifts" are needed more than anywhere else. They are unlikely to emerge, however, from learned journals that effectively privilege research for research's sake over usable knowledge and are light years away from the concerns of inquiring managers.

Finally, the RAE is a potent symbol and vehicle for the bullying top-down managerial culture that has steadily eroded both the quality of working life and results in much of the public sector. This management style has given us Baby P and HM Revenue and Customs on the one hand, and General Motors and the financial collapse on the other. Universities should be part of the search for alternatives, not a reinforcement for today's bankrupt model.


December 19, 2008

About academic management...

I recently attending a bullying and harassment policy briefing session for academics in management roles at my university. The point of the session was to ensure that managers stayed just on the right side of the law, given that (in the words of the session leader) "there is a very thin line between bullying and management."

From: Poll points to distrust of 'petty' managers

December 18, 2008

Poll points to distrust of 'petty' managers...

"Wholly ineffective and probably incapable of running a whelk stall," was one of the less flattering opinions of managers expressed in a survey of higher education staff.

Other responses included a lecturer's description of university leaders as "top-down petty bureaucrats whose main interest is in making money", and a professor's complaint that "at senior level the quality of management and leadership is unacceptable - there is a serious lack of accountability".

The comments were made to researchers who investigated levels of trust in higher and further education institutions. They presented their results last week to the Society for Research into Higher Education.

Around 40 per cent of respondents identified problems with the management culture of their institution, with a majority of these feeling that their leaders had "high concern for the task, low concern for the people".

Of the 145 participants, 65 had significant concerns about poor leadership and a lack of values among managers, with one programme leader from a London university citing "countless examples of middle and senior managers who lack breadth of view and are defensive".

"They tend to miss out on opportunities, put down people with things to offer, demotivate people around them (and) foster ineffective practices," they said.

There were also a significant number of respondents who were positive, with a third of those surveyed saying their managers had "high concern for outcomes and high concern for people".

The paper, by Jill Jameson of the University of Greenwich, concludes that a significant number of academics feel they are living in an era of increasingly managerialist attitudes, while "values-based" leadership is lacking.

"Academic staff found it hard to trust coercive managers: they could, and did, by contrast, resist 'new managerialist' trends," says the report.


December 16, 2008

Why adjunct is a dirty word

If you didn’t know it was, you haven’t known any adjuncts personally. It is amazing what people will say about adjuncts, even to their faces.

But here’s why:

The average adjunct is not as qualified as the average new full-timer. (I’m not addressing the folks hired back in the 60’s, when the market was entirely different.) And I’m not just talking about them receiving less institutional support, though that’s certainly true. Full-timers are recruited nationally, and vetted by search committees, deans, and vice presidents. It’s not unusual to get hundreds of applications for a single position, even at the cc level. When we hire someone to the tenure track, we’ve chosen the best of hundreds. Adjuncts are hired locally, ensuring a far smaller pool. They’re often chosen based on their availability for a given time slot. Yes, some of them are excellent instructors. Yes, sometimes we luck out and find really good people whose life circumstances steer them to us. (That was me, back in the mid-90’s.) But the idea that, on average, the best of hundreds aren’t any better than the best who live within a thirty minute drive and are available on Tuesdays at 12:30 just doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Absolutely the chances are good that the best of hundreds will be better than the best who live within an hour and a half drive. (I’m in Houston, after all.) That does not mean, as Community College Dean makes clear, that some aren’t good. Some are good. Some are excellent.

But we are regularly treated as if we are “the one living within driving distance who agrees to go to X campus.”

Even when we are not. Even when we have a PhD and more teaching experience than the full-timers. Even when our evaluations are glowing and our classes fill up immediately upon opening.

It reminds me of how doctors often treat their patients. Many doctors routinely treat their patients as if they are idiots and do not recognize their own symptoms. This happens even when the patients are bright, well-educated, and self-aware. The doctors do it because they have the expectation that the patient won’t be intelligent.

Maybe the academy has that same expectation. They expect the adjuncts to be poor teachers, place holders, cogs in a giant wheel that are interchangeable… And they get those things, to the detriment of the students. Maybe the colleges should give more and expect more from their adjuncts.

If students perform well when confronted with high expectations, shouldn’t teachers work the same way? We’re just older folks (usually). If adjuncts are expected to be underqualified, high graders without significant content in their courses, then that’s who they will become.

I work at three colleges with very different community cultures.

At one college everyone is introduced as Dr. if they have received one and by their first name as not. This is even when you are giving your name to colleagues. At this college, my PhD counters my adjunct status, as does the fact that relatively few of the faculty are adjuncts.

At one college the twain do not meet. Adjuncts (60 or so) have a four computers/tables office in a building, while the full-timers have individual offices in other buildings. Both the adjuncts and the full-timers have a start-of-school meeting, but the adjuncts’ is at night and the full-timers’ is in the day. Even adjuncts who could attend the full-timers’ meetings don’t because it means coming back to campus without pay. And it just continues that way. They don’t interact. This is CC1, which has offered adjunct certification.

At my third college, the adjuncts are invited (as far as I can tell) to everything the full-timers are. The adjuncts have offices in the same area as the full-timers, though they share an office and the ft have their own. (That’s okay, though, since few of the adjuncts are in the office area at the same time.) People talk to the adjuncts, instead of ignoring them in the halls like at CC1 and CC2. It’s a much more comfortable school to be an adjunct at.

Why am I working at three colleges?

I have been away from teaching college for fifteen years, teaching my children. Now I am trying to get back into teaching. I’ve been working at the local college for a while, teaching a Saturday morning or a Thursday night class. But this year my youngest is attending the local college for dual credit, so I am teaching part-time at several places trying to beef up my experience and my skills. I know that colleges look more at presentations and publications and I have been working on those. I have eight presentations this school year and two publications.

So I am working at several places, getting my feet in doors, hopefully getting to know people, and, next time they hire, I want them to be looking at me first. But when people think of adjuncts as the sweatshop workers, as at one of the colleges I applied for a full-time position, where they never hire their own adjuncts for full-time positions, maybe more adjuncting was not a good choice.


The axe drops on Dr. Larry Reynolds: the REAL reasons

To any experienced journalist there was always a strange subtext to the abrupt removal of Dr. Larry Reynolds from his posts as Head of the Department of Family Medicine and Professor at the University of Manitoba and Head of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's Family Medicine Program.

Something rang wrong in the alleged reasons his contracts were not renewed. And why he was given all of one month's notice to clear out. It took a while, but now we can reasonably conclude the real reasons he was axed. (Yes, we know, technically his contract was not renewed, but essentially he was dismissed from jobs he didn't want to leave without an explanation.)

Watching the university launch a campaign of character assassination against Dr. Reynolds was one thing. But when they breached his legal rights to privacy by leaking bits of his personnel record, it was clear something was up.

Usually institutions hide behind the privacy legislation, deflecting uncomfortable questions with the door-closing statement "It's a personnel matter. We can't comment." So when the university dropped that defence to engage in a smear offensive, a red flag went up.

The reports in the daily newspapers failed to answer the central question: why was Dr. Reynolds fired? Then we read the Manitoban.

There, in the newspaper published at the University of Manitoba, we found the best and most thorough account of the Dr. Reynolds affair.

Reporter Tessa Vanderhart not only left the mainstream reporters eating her dust, she provided us with the clues we needed to find the answers.

There's an old saying in the news business... the timeline tells the tale. And Tessa filled in that timeline.

Brock Wright, the health authority vice-president said performance reviews concluded Reynolds wasn't a "team player." Wright said WRHA evaluations of Reynolds in 2003 and 2004 raised concerns about his ability to work with others.

In announcing the appointment of Dr. Reynolds in 2001, the University of Manitoba noted he had " received the Ian McWhinney Teaching Award for Excellence in Resident Teaching." A quick Google search for the award tells us "This award, named in honour of Dr Ian McWhinney, the first Professor and Chair of a Canadian University Department of Family Medicine (University of Western Ontario, 1968 to 1987), is presented to an outstanding family medicine teacher deemed by peers to have made a substantial contribution to family medicine education."

Obviously Dr. Reynolds played well with others at he University of Western Ontario. His problems with co-workers appear to have surfaced in Winnipeg.

Wright huffed that "a number of people complained Reynolds breached the WRHA's respectful workplace policy." The Black Rod found the WRHA's respectful workplace policy whose essence is this:

2.2 Harassment – abusive and unwelcome conduct or comments that are inappropriate, demeaning or otherwise offensive behaviour that creates an uncomfortable, hostile and/or intimidating work environment. Types of behaviour that constitute harassment may include, but are not limited to:
2.2.1 Unwelcome remarks, slurs, jokes, taunts, or suggestions that are related to a person’s ancestry, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, source of income, political belief, physical or mental disability;
2.2.2 Unwelcome sexual remarks, invitations, or requests (including persistent, unwanted contact after the end of a relationship);
2.2.3 Displays of sexually explicit, sexist, racist, or other offensive derogatory material;
2.2.4 Written or verbal abuse or threats;
2.2.5 Leering (suggestive staring) or other offensive gestures;
2.2.6 Unwelcome physical contact, such as patting, touching, pinching, hitting;
2.2.7 Patronizing or condescending behaviour;
2.2.8 Humiliating staff in front of co-workers;
2.2.9 Abuse of authority that undermines someone’s performance or threatens her or his career;
2.2.10 Bullying;
2.2.11 Vandalism of personal property; and,
2.2.12 Physical or sexual assault.

Nobody has alleged Dr. Reynolds was accused of pinching his secretaries' asses or praising them on their mini-skirts. Nobody has claimed he told politically incorrect jokes. "So a priest, a rabbi and a GP go into a bar..." Or that he stole anyone's lunch money, keyed anyone's car or bitch-slapped anyone in the washroom.

In fact, a quick look at his public writings demonstrates the exact opposite. He's written about "Improving interpersonal skills" in the context of doctor-patient interactions.

"Effective communication is the hallmark of effective clinicians. When confrontations arise, it is natural to become defensive. Unfortunately, this usually shuts down the conversation."

Here's some of his advice to new doctors on "Coping with family medicine put-downs"

"In crafting responses to put-downs, we should acknowledge the issue but challenge the stereotyping or injustice and promote dialogue."

So it looks like Brock Wright is talking about sections 2.2.7, 2.2.8, and 2.2.9. That means Dr. Reynolds made some enemies powerful enough to affect his career.

It didn't take long to identify some suspects. And with the WHO came the WHEN.

In 2003, a student was failed by the University of Manitoba School of Medicine. The reason? He informed his Obstetrics and Gynecology instructors he would refuse to perform or refer for any abortive procedure. He appealed the denial of his degree three times without success. The matter became public in March, 2004 when his final appeal was denied.

A story in sa, "He is being supported by several pro-life doctors in Manitoba, who are concerned about the university's intolerance."

It's not hard to imagine that one of those doctors was Dr. Larry Reynolds.

Reynolds was a regular contributor to pro-life publications. He sat on the editorial board of Vital Signs, the newsletter of Canadian Physicians for Life. And while still with the University of Western Ontario he was quoted in a story in Vital Signs headlined "No Duty to Refer."

"Dr. Larry Reynolds, Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, has often experienced the tension of counseling a woman requesting an abortion. He explains that as he believes abortion to be harmful to both mother and baby, he cannot participate in any way, including referring the woman to another physician who performs abortions.

"Some have argued that this means that we are imposing our beliefs on vulnerable women. Of course, this is not the case. We are maintaining our own moral conscience in refusing to become a mere instrument of someone else's moral decisions. If we do anything less than this, we allow ourselves to become mere objects. That same argument also promotes the idea that women are helpless victims dependent on physicians to rescue them. Women are strong independent moral beings and deserve to be treated as such, as do physicians."

CJOB Radio News reported on the student's fight for a degree, including this explanation from the University.

"Dr. Brian Magwood Associate Dean at the Faculty of Medicine told CJOB that university policy states that students are obligated to tell patients about all treatment options which fall within the medical standard of care."

Who's Dr. Bryan Magwood? We asked the same question.

Bryan Magwood is the Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education, at the U of M's Faculty of Medicine. He directs the Medical Humanities Program. A pediatrician, his specialty is Intensive Care Medicine and Clinical Ethics.

He would be a powerful enemy to someone whose ethics are in direct opposition to his.

As the storm clouds of abortion gathered over Dr. Reynolds, he stepped further into the abyss. The Summer, 2004, issue of Vital Signs published the agenda for the:

Annual National Pro-life Conference
Life 2004 – Alive and Loving It
October 14 – 16
Delta Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Scheduled to speak between 2 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, was Dr. Larry Reynolds. His topic: Issues of Conscience.

If Dr. Reynolds was fighting internal battles within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, he was engaged in a more public fight war elsewhere.

The WRHA had decided to close the low-risk maternity ward at the Victoria General Hospital. Their argument---the number of deliveries at the Vic was declining and doctors couldn't keep up their skills.

Reynolds saw the move for what it was, another slap in the face for general practitioners. Reynolds has always argued that natural childbirth is exactly what GP's should be involved in.

This June he was interviewed by the health reporter for Canadian Press where he let loose on the new attitudes to having a baby. (Record high caesarean rate raising concerns among Canada's obstetricians, Sheryl Ubelacker, Health Reporter, THE CANADIAN PRESS,
Jun. 25, 2008)

"Dr. Larry Reynolds, a Winnipeg family doctor who has been delivering babies for about 30 years, said the number of primary-care physicians who provide maternity care has been declining for the last two decades, especially in urban centres.

Much of that decline can be blamed on a culture of fear that has grown up around childbirth as it has become increasingly medicalized - affecting not only mothers-to-be but also doctors, nurses and other care providers, he said.

"Pretty well everyone's afraid to get involved ... because you're really developing a system based on fear - something bad is going to happen. So why would you want to get involved in something that's risky or where bad things are going to happen?"

Maternity wards used to be places where doctors and nurses enjoyed working, he said, "but they've sort of become 'intensive scare units,' where everybody is often at a higher level of anxiety."

Reynolds, a member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada's maternity and newborn care committee, believes more of his colleagues would embrace maternity care if a shift in societal attitudes were to occur.

A key change would be to stop perceiving birth as a disease to be conquered, "where pregnant women are unexploded bombs and we're the bomb-disposal unit, moving away from that model to birth as a celebration, birth as a life event with appropriate uncertainties."

Dr. Reynolds was passionate about the closing of the Victoria Hospital maternity ward. He took his concerns up the ladder, then off the ladder and directly to the Minister of Health.

With that, he made more enemies. Powerful enemies. Enemies who now could ally themselves with his enemies at the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Reynolds lost the battle of Victoria Hospital. The maternity ward was closed in the spring of 2005. By then, Reynolds knew he was in the eye of a storm.

Tessa Vanderhart filled in the missing pieces in her piece in the Manitoban.

"In 2005, Reynolds was considering whether to seek a second term. He conducted an anonymous survey of his colleagues, who overwhelmingly wanted him to continue. When Reynolds told the dean about the survey, he says they were “less than enthused.” A few days later, a colleague of his saw an advertisement in a newspaper for the position of the head of family medicine at the U of M in a newspaper."

Then she added something curious.

"Reynolds then took a year-long sabbatical, and when he returned he assumed his position. Medicine appointments continue on unofficial one-year terms." He took a year-long sabbatical in his last year of a five year contract? Did he return to finish Year Five? Or was he on year-to-year appointments in '07 and '08 both?

Dr. Reynolds could not be dismissed in 2007.

There was a little something that year called a provincial election. Getting rid of the head of family medicine could turn into an election issue.

And the next year?

From Oct. 11 to 13, 2007, Winnipeg was the site of the Annual Scientific Assembly of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. It was their 50th anniversary.

"It is poetic that its golden anniversary will be held a stone’s throw from The Golden Boy, one of Canada’s most famed landmarks, perched atop of Manitoba’s Legislative Building.
Each year, Family Medicine Forum (FMF), with the ASA as its central activity, brings together hundreds of family physicians, residents, medical students, other specialists, and colleagues from other health professions who work with family doctors. With a program planned by CFPC members, FMF has become a highly recommended stop on the continuing professional development highway for Canada’s family physicians," read the ASA news release.

Imagine welcoming the country's family doctors celebrating their 50th anniversary and announcing you've just fired the province's chief family doctor.

Uh huh. A one year extension of that contract. But by Thanksgiving, 2008, Dr. Reynolds' luck had run out.

The University of Manitoba wanted him gone because of his high profile in the pro-life world. Imagine how galling it was to see his every article ending with "Dr Reynolds is a Professor in and Head of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Correspondence to: Dr J.L. Reynolds, Department of Family Medicine, University of Manitoba."

There had to be an end to that. The WRHA wanted him gone because he had committed the cardinal sin, he opposed Kim Il- Sung--oops, sorry, Dr. Brian Postl.

Nobody, but nobody is allowed to embarass Dr. Postl in public. Steps had to be taken.

The confusion over the dismissal of Dr. Larry Reynolds stems from the fact there were two separate attacks --- from two separate powerful fiefdoms. The U of M, and the WRHA.

Both turned on stifling his right to speak out on issues of conscience and professionalism.

And the way to stifle him was to attack the credibility he has earned among colleagues and students by painting him as having some sort of personality defect, and by removing him from standing in front of medical students as a role model for family medicine.

And this is what passes as ethical treatment of doctors under the NDP in Manitoba, at the University of Manitoba and WRHA which they fund.

In their haste to eliminate Reynolds, they showed their disregard for family physicians, just as he had always warned. As reported in the Manitoban "the residents he was training are without a professor until the university hires a replacement."


December 10, 2008

Join our Facebook group

Join our Facebook group. Anyone can see the group description, but only members can see the Wall, discussion board, and photos.

The group is called: Bullying of Academics in Higher Education

You can also access the group through: Facebook me!

University of KwaZulu-Natal

We, friends of the University of KwaZulu-Natal,

Affirming our commitment

* to Academic Freedom as a freedom fundamental to the existence of Universities as institutions of critical research and learning, enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa
* to the transformation of universities in the context of post-apartheid South Africa;

Noting that

* the University management instituted disciplinary action against two Professors, Nithaya Chetty and John van den Berg, both highly valued academics, as a result of their publicly initiating a debate about academic freedom at UKZN
* on 11 November a constitutionally mandated Science and Agriculture Faculty general meeting to discuss this issue was cancelled after intervention by the University management
* the University has employed a team of advocates and attorneys, and an outside lawyer as adjudicator, using public funds to prosecute these staff members
* the normal legal costs of an internal disciplinary inquiry at UKZN would bankrupt any university employee;

Believing that

* this disciplinary action was unjustifiable, divisive, and immensely damaging to the reputation of the university
* Professor van den Berg has signed an apology which does not accord with our interpretation of what he is alleged to have done
* the cancelling of the Science and Agriculture faculty general meeting is an unprecedented attack on academic freedom at the University
* this cancellation of a meeting called in accordance with the constitution of the faculty appears to be in line with other attempts to silence members of our university community who are critical of the current climate at UKZN
* the UKZN management has enacted a concerted and long standing campaign to silence any opposition lodged against the University administration or leadership;

Call upon the University Management:

* to withdraw the charges against Professors Chetty and van den Berg
* to remove outside legal representation from the prosecution and adjudication of disciplinary inquiries
* to allow academics, students and other groups to freely meet and to freely express opinions and concerns
* to uphold the internationally accepted standards of academic freedom, the constitutional rights of South Africans for freedom of expression and affirm the role of academic freedom in fostering collegiality, and critical debate, within the university
* to recognize, in accord with the 1997 Unesco declaration on the rights of higher education teachers and the recent Chetty vs Adesino decision, that Academic Freedom must include the right to criticize the management of the University and to discuss these criticisms with the wider interested public and the media


* call on our fellow academics and students, in South Africa and abroad, to support us in creating an open, active and responsive environment at UKZN.


Also read: Newspaper Coverage

December 09, 2008

Workplace Bullying — State of the Science, 2008

Anybody seeking an overall picture in 2008, of research and scholarship on workplace bullying, mobbing, harassment and abuse, need look no further than the Sixth International Conference on these topics, held in Montreal, Quebec, in the first week of June. It was an extraordinary event, drawing major researchers from about thirty countries.

Have a look at the conference website.

Study the presentation titles on the conference program.

Read the following independent reports on the conference by three members of the research team on workplace mobbing at the University of Waterloo:

"Language Barriers and Bullying," by Hannah Masterman, Research Assistant;

"Theoretical Dialects and Conflicting Perceptions," by Rachel Morrison, Research Assistant; and

"The Birth of a Learned Society," by Kenneth Westhues, Professor of Sociology.

Learn from retrospectives on the conference by leaders of the anti-bullying movement in the United States:

"The WBI Report," by Gary and Ruth Namie, Workplace Bullying Institute, Bellingham, WA (external link);

"Immersion in the Twisted World of Abuse at Work," by David Yamada, Professor of Law, Suffolk University, Boston.

Even if you don't read Spanish, you will enjoy the pictorial record of the conference posted by the delegation from Mexico on the rich website of Marina Parés, Acoso Moral.

Ponder the provocative assessment of current research in Kenneth Westhues's presentation at the conference, "Critiques of the Anti-Bullying Movement and Responses to Them."

Study the outcomes of Court Cases on Moral Harassment in Japan, as reported by the Association Against Workplace Moral Harassment, half a dozen of whose members took part in the Montreal conference.


Coming soon...

All about Kingston University...

Coming soon, a few tales about a certain public official who could not tell the truth when asked a simple question by a reporter: - What did you know and when did you know it?


December 07, 2008

Fairy Tales...

During my studies for my M. Sc., there were rumours about my supervisor having published data obtained by one of his Ph. D. students without that student's knowledge or permission, let alone giving him credit.

During my thesis research, I read some papers written by that supervisor. He could have produced one excellent publication with the data he had but, instead, half of it went into one paper, half into another, and half the data from each of these papers went into a third. Amazing: three papers for the price of one!

The supervisor died a few years ago. His obituary described him in glowing terms, emphasizing his generosity and the sacrifices he made for his students. When I was his student, he was nothing of the sort. I knew him as a work-shy incompetent who freely exploited others to maintain his reputation. Either he underwent a miraculous transformation or somebody wrote fairy tales about him.

El Cid

Bosses admitting that there's a problem? Only in one's dreams

Bosses admitting that there's a problem? Only in one's dreams.

Most of my supervisors, both in industry and academe, saw themselves as perfect as only those who were perfect became supervisors.

At the place where I used to teach, my last supervisor and I had an on-going dispute which lasted several years, a dispute which *he* started and maintained. One year, he conducted a survey in our department about his management style. The questions were posed in such a way that the results could only portray him in the best terms. Mark Twain's observations on statistics were, thereby, verified.

El Cid

December 06, 2008

Survey of HR Professionals - Trends and Remedies

...When asked to identify the factors which impair their organisation's ability to deal effectively with bullying, the most commonly cited factors were management's unwillingness to acknowledge a problem and prevailing management style...


December 02, 2008

Not accountable

... not accountable? A Professor at a reputable university and a recipient of the Brian Mercer Award for Innovation uses his PhD students to do work relating to the commercialisation of his invention but claims in the annual PhD reviews, sent to the Dean of the faculty, that the students did work of academic quality. He then asks one specialist researcher, towards the end of the PhD student's research, to act as a co-supervisor. This gives him the incentive to include the specialist researcher's own work in the PhD student's theses. He spreads the academic work done among the PhD students. An old story, No?!