Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Path from "Running a University Like a Business" Leads Where?

A blog post with some insightful comments about UVA situation ( notes that the folks who pressured the president to resign favor something they call "strategic dynamism."  The blogger notes that it's pretty much all about dynamism and not much about strategy.  That is, it's about action, not planning.

This had me thinking about Karl Mannheim's ideal types of conservative thinking (ranging from bureaucratic conservatism to fascism).  Mannheim characterizes the latter as “active and irrational,” noting that at “the very heart of its theory and its practice lies the apotheosis of direct action, the belief in the decisive deed, in the significance attributed to the initiative of a leading elite.  The essence of politics is to recognize and grapple with the demands of the hour” (Ideology and Utopia 1936 : 134 

Indeed, it's a real danger in higher education when administrators and government boards think that "running a college like a business" means adopting the deference to swashbuckling command and control oriented decisive simplifiers.  The very fact that they cannot see how many different ways there are to be "like a business" is what makes them most dangerous.

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