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The performative university: 'Targets', 'terror' and 'taking back freedom' in academia

The performative university: 'Targets', 'terror' and 'taking back freedom' in academia
The performative university: 'Targets', 'terror' and 'taking back freedom' in academia
This special issue assembles eight papers which provide insights into the working lives of early career to more senior academics, from several different countries. The first common theme which emerges is around the predominance of ‘targets’, enacting aspects of quantification and the ideal of perfect control and fabrication. The second theme is about the ensuing precarious evocation of ‘terror’ impacting on mental well-being, albeit enacted in diverse ways. Furthermore, several papers highlight a particular type of response, beyond complicity to ‘take freedom back’ (the third theme). This freedom is used to assert an emerging parallel form of resistance over time, from overt, planned, institutional collective representation towards more informal, post-recognition forms of collaborative, covert, counter spaces (both virtually and physically). Such resistance is underpinned by a collective care, generosity and embrace of vulnerability, whereby a reflexive collegiality is enacted. We feel that these emergent practices should encourage senior management, including vice-chancellors, to rethink performative practices. Situating the papers in the context of the current coronavirus crisis, they point towards new forms of seeing and organising which open up, rather than close down, academic freedom to unleash collaborative emancipatory power so as to contribute to the public and ecological good.
Alternative organisation, business schools, critical management studies, higher education, performativity, universities
1350-5076
363-377
Visser, Max
e2ca2622-4072-4ca2-9dfd-1dcab3d71178
Jones, David
01e78d44-2e35-4045-a156-f8aca4499cfb
Deem, Rosemary
07f0aa3f-6c46-48f3-83ea-ba542b068519
Stokes, Peter
3abba5b3-abb3-4e77-bc90-b224680fc981
Rodgers, Peter
78e39552-3d65-4b44-b0e1-10043ba3ff5d
Tarba, Shlomo
a6b9e9eb-3075-4598-b9e2-612fb17a0151
Visser, Max
e2ca2622-4072-4ca2-9dfd-1dcab3d71178
Jones, David
01e78d44-2e35-4045-a156-f8aca4499cfb
Deem, Rosemary
07f0aa3f-6c46-48f3-83ea-ba542b068519
Stokes, Peter
3abba5b3-abb3-4e77-bc90-b224680fc981
Rodgers, Peter
78e39552-3d65-4b44-b0e1-10043ba3ff5d
Tarba, Shlomo
a6b9e9eb-3075-4598-b9e2-612fb17a0151

Visser, Max, Jones, David, Deem, Rosemary, Stokes, Peter, Rodgers, Peter and Tarba, Shlomo (2020) The performative university: 'Targets', 'terror' and 'taking back freedom' in academia. Management Learning, 51 (4), 363-377. (doi:10.1177/1350507620927554).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This special issue assembles eight papers which provide insights into the working lives of early career to more senior academics, from several different countries. The first common theme which emerges is around the predominance of ‘targets’, enacting aspects of quantification and the ideal of perfect control and fabrication. The second theme is about the ensuing precarious evocation of ‘terror’ impacting on mental well-being, albeit enacted in diverse ways. Furthermore, several papers highlight a particular type of response, beyond complicity to ‘take freedom back’ (the third theme). This freedom is used to assert an emerging parallel form of resistance over time, from overt, planned, institutional collective representation towards more informal, post-recognition forms of collaborative, covert, counter spaces (both virtually and physically). Such resistance is underpinned by a collective care, generosity and embrace of vulnerability, whereby a reflexive collegiality is enacted. We feel that these emergent practices should encourage senior management, including vice-chancellors, to rethink performative practices. Situating the papers in the context of the current coronavirus crisis, they point towards new forms of seeing and organising which open up, rather than close down, academic freedom to unleash collaborative emancipatory power so as to contribute to the public and ecological good.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 22 June 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 22 June 2020
Published date: 1 September 2020
Additional Information: Funding Information: The authors would like to thank all their reviewers without whom this special issue would never have been possible. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article. Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2020.
Keywords: Alternative organisation, business schools, critical management studies, higher education, performativity, universities

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442409
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442409
ISSN: 1350-5076
PURE UUID: 08e6bc3e-2ff5-4210-92ad-d71040d71dd2

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Jul 2020 16:39
Last modified: 18 Nov 2022 18:13

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Contributors

Author: Max Visser
Author: David Jones
Author: Rosemary Deem
Author: Peter Stokes
Author: Peter Rodgers
Author: Shlomo Tarba

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