Managing to be different? Strategic imagination or ‘strategic’ imitation?

  • Monday, 14 Mar 2016 18:00 - 20:00
  • Chancellor's Hall, Senate House
  • Gary Rhoades, University of Arizona

Chair: Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research)

Introduction of the speaker: Professor Michael Shattock, UCL Institute of Education

The annual Burton R Clark lecture on higher education has been established by the UCL Institute of Education on the basis of a generous donation by Adele Clark, widow of the late Burton R (‘Bob’) Clark (1921-2009).

Are universities characterised more by imagination or imitation in their strategies? In representing themselves to prospective international students are universities pursuing distinctive niche markets, or are their efforts characterised more by isomorphic patterns within and across national boundaries as they seek prestige and/or revenue?

In the national and global competition for international students, amid local demands for greater efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability, Professor Rhoades pursues these questions in comparative case studies of universities in South Africa, the UK, and the US.

What he finds in the case studies is that while within and among countries there are significant variations among universities in goals, there are also significant particularities to their paths. Imitative dimensions are at play, but so too are imaginative strategies in what are market-like activities in form and content.


Watch a video of the lecture:

Gary Rhoades

Gary Rhoades is Professor and Director of the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education. From January 2009 to June 2011 he served as General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors. Rhoades’ research focuses on the restructuring of academic institutions and professions. His books include Managed professionals: Unionized faculty and restructuring academic labor (SUNY Press, 1998) and (with Sheila Slaughter) Academic capitalism and the new economy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004). Rhoades is working on an updated book on faculty, tentatively titled, Organizing ‘professionals’: Negotiating the new academy. He is also beginning a book on management, tentatively titled, Managing to be different: Strategic imagination or strategic imitation.

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