The corporatization of research in Australian higher education

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The recent public policy trend emphasising markets and economic logic among public sector institutions, including universities, has led to the introduction of greater managerialism and formal demonstrations of efficiency and effectiveness. Such moves require a definition of inputs, outputs and outcomes as a means to rendering these activities visible and measurable. In Australian universities, recent changes to higher education policy (particularly research and science policy) have tightened control by Federal Government over academic professional activities and increased the drive to render professional activities calculable (simple, standardized) for the allocation of scarce resources. This paper focuses on the narrowing of definitions in two particular areas, namely, research publication and the funding of postgraduate research degree completions. The paper argues that such policy strategies reinforce selectivity of styles of research, types of research problems undertaken, and favour the research approaches of some disciplines over others (that is, "big" science over "small" science and science over humanities and social science). A further consequence is tighter central control over both higher education institutions and academic professionals. Academics experience a drive to define their activity as either teaching or research, as opposed to teaching and research. This policy drive leads to a narrowing of professional activity into discreet categories. A further consequence of this drive on the part of the Federal Government may be the definition of higher education institutions into one of three categories, as either "teaching" or "research" universities, with a third group predominately "teaching" but undertaking some "research". As with other performance-based funding mechanisms, this may lead to a significant re-allocation of resources and standing amongst Universities in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-741
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002

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