Legitimacy of universities
- Written by Malcom Gillies
Quotations from a review in T.H.E. by Malcolm Gillies of the book by Rakesh Khurana (2007) "From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: the social transformation of American Business Schools and the unfulfilled promise of management as a profession" (Princeton University Press).
The whole review can be found in the Times Higher Education, 12 February 2009, page 56
Click here to read the review
Malcolm Gillies is Vice-Chancellor and President, City University London, U.K.
"The cradle of capitalism, the [American] business school sought to legitimise business as a profession to rival medicine or law. It was deflected from this path, [first] by the on-rush of social science methodologies and [then] by increasing recourse to models of investor capitalism."
"Business schools, originally founded to turn out generalist administrators, have ended up producing managers whose self-interest is deliberately aligned with that of shareholders [whom they serve as agents]. In so doing, these schools have lost their legitimacy and inhabit a moral void. ... [Khurana writes that the managers they trained had] 'no permanent commitment to any collective interests or norms,' and so 'represented the antithesis of the professional.'"
"Published at the end of 2007, 'From Higher Aims to Hired Hands' is even more relevant amid today's economic shambles. Those higher aims are of professional duty, stewardship, custodianship and social responsibility. The hired hands to which he refers belong to the short-lived 21st-century CEO, buying and selling corporations' assets while endowed with stock options and golden parachutes. What was, even as late as 2007, dismissed as a case of a few corporate bad apples has since been exposed as a pyramid of illusion, deceit, fraud and roguery. The question is increasingly being asked: where were these people trained - and train others?"
"[This book] is an insightful work of sociology and history ... but it is not merely about business schools. ...For Khurana, the return to higher aims is an urgent task for all in universities. ...Hierarchies of intellect have now been replaced by hierarchies of revenue, in which business stands supreme."
"Much of Khurana's story is familiar in UK higher education. ...The dilemma is the same: which stakeholders to serve - students, faculty, industry, governments, philanthropists? ...The quest for a new legitimacy is transatlantic, both for universities and for business schools."