EDEV_503 Week 1_9

I thoroughly enjoyed your analysis of Barnett and agreed with many of your points. I’d like to elaborate on just one of them here: the hidden narrative of control that Barnett overlooks.

Your description of the budget allocation on adjunct staff and the amount of administrative work done by (I presume you mean) full-time staff in Canada is interesting as it represents possible top-down managerial choices that potentially negatively affect those who lack any authority to oppose them. That these are choices is demonstrated by a comparison with Japan. Full-time teaching staff (including tenured and full-time contract staff) saw the teaching burden increase significantly between 1992 and 2007 (Hasegawa, 2015). Furthermore and anecdotally, as more recent figures are not yet available, the increase has sped up since 2010. Reducing the budget distribution on adjunct wages offers a no-cost option to management because there is no extra expenditure needed to increase full-time staffs’ teaching burden. In this respect, Canada and Japan have taken different routes. The administrative demands on full-time staff cannot be compared directly as (based on your characterisation) all full-time staff are required to have administrative duties, and I’m not entirely clear on what you mean by “involved in administrative type positions”. This could mean anything from serving on committees to heading administrative departments. Irrespective of this ambiguity, I agree completely with the interpretation that the balance sheet predicates decisions and the ideology is that of the market.

Moreover, one critical theory interpretation of increasing managerialism, at least in Japan (Fujimura, 2015), may be based in less in the belief in the balance sheet and more in the perception of inefficiency in higher education (c.f. Altbach, 2006, p. 141) whether this perception is valid or not. The notion of academic freedom was a hard-fought victory in Japan (Osaki, 1997), so outside, i.e. governmental, control of the faculty is problematic. A way around academic freedom is to place bureaucrats inside the university as administrators and impose policies on faculty from the inside. Whatever positive narrative is used by scholars such as Barnett (2004), the techniques and aims of the learning organisation (Senge, 1990) will be stretched without a critical recognition of both the negative perception of higher education and the feelings of subordinated (sic) staff in such institutions.


Altbach, P. G. (2006). International Higher Education: Reflections on Policy and Practice. Massachusetts: Centre for International Higher Education. http://doi.org/10.1080/00091380009601750

Barnett, R. (2004). The Purposes of Higher Education and the Changing Face of Academia. London Review of Education, 2(1), 61–73. http://doi.org/10.1080/1474846042000177483

Fujimura, M. (2015). Governance, Administration, and Management. In A. Arimoto, W. K. Cumming, F. Huang, & J. C. Shin (Eds.), The changing academic profession in Japan (pp. 103–118). Cham: Springer.

Hasegawa, Y. (2015). Working Time and Personal Strain. In A. Arimoto, W. K. Cummings, F. Huang, & J. C. Shin (Eds.), The changing academic profession in Japan (pp. 135–148). Cham: Springer.

Osaki, H. (1997). The structure of university administration in Japan. Higher Education, 34, 151–163.

Senge, P. M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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