David Graeber on corporatization

The increasing interpenetration of government, university and private firms has led everyone to adopt the language, sensibilities, and organizational forms that originated in the corporate world.

Although this might have helped in creating marketable products, since that is what corporate bureaucracies are designed to do, in terms of fostering original research, the results have been catastrophic.

My own knowledge comes from universities, both in the United States and Britain.  In both countries, the last thirty years have seen a veritable explosion of the proportion of working hours spent on administrative tasks at the expense of pretty much everything else.

In my own university, for instance, we have more administrators than faculty members, and the faculty members, too, are expected to spend at least as much time on administration as on teaching and research combined.  The same is true, more or less, at universities worldwide.

The growth of administrative work has directly resulted from introducing corporate management techniques.  Invariably, these are justified as ways of increasing efficiency and introducing competition at every level.

What they end up meaning in practice is that everyone winds up spending most of their time trying to sell things: grant proposals; book proposals; assessments of students’ jobs and grant applications; assessments of our colleagues; prospectuses for new interdisciplinary majors; institutes; conference workshops; universities themselves which have now become brands to be marketed to prospective students or contributors; and so on.

As marketing overwhelms university life, it generates documents about fostering imagination and creativity that might just as well have been designed to strangle imagination and creativity in the cradle.

via Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit – The Baffler.

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