A labour of love? Academics in business schools

Clarke, Caroline; Knights, David and Jarvis, Carol (2012). A labour of love? Academics in business schools. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 28(1) pp. 5–15.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scaman.2011.12.003

Abstract

This paper contributes to a growing literature on new public management in relation to academia in general but more specifically UK business schools. Following interviews with a range of staff in universities, we explore the impact that auditing and monitoring interventions have made on academics and their identities. In some senses, academic identities would appear to have changed as a result of managerialist practices of audit, league tables, research assessments, and other measures of accountability for performance. In exploring our data we were struck by the extent to which our respondents drew upon various narratives of love in accounting for their experiences and so we sought to frame our analysis around conceptions of romantic, unconditional and pragmatic love. We also found that with few exceptions, our respondents were complicit rather than resistant to new public management demands for audit, accountability and performance and we sought to understand this in terms of the management of academic identities. Despite their compliance, however, considerable disquiet and dissatisfaction was expressed such that the romantic notion of a ‘labour of love’ where work is an end in itself is being stretched to its limits as academics are increasingly subjected to loveless or isntrumental demands.

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