It was inevitable that Tom Garvin’s piece, “Grey philistines taking over our universities”, in the Irish Times of Mayday (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0501/1224269475580.html) would excite reaction among educators and academics. The cause of at least some of what distresses Tom is the phenomenon of managerialism.
Now, it needs to be emphasised that universities are not uniquely plagued by this problem. Managerialism started in the private sector. It flourished in a society that had reduced thinking and management – particularly management – to a basket of easily learned and often repeated pieties. It then infected the public sector via business consultants. It is characterised by extraordinary salaries, new and extraordinary job titles, unnecessary work in the creation of new information flows and jargon. It will be hard to eradicate because considerable numbers are now employed in a layer of waste and because their best defence is that they express themselves in the language of efficiency, innovation and management, while being destructive of all three.