The New Culture Wars in Australian University Workplaces

  • Paul Adams
Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)


Much has been written about the structural changes in university workplace culture and about the transformation of universities as institutions of learning more generally. The first wave of corporatisation is now well-entrenched, and many University Councils look like the board of directors of multinational companies. The new second wave of corporatisation is attempting to transform academic “culture” by transforming the nature of work itself and by making staff behave and work as individual contractors. It aims to achieve these changes by making university staff more flexible and insecure, by aligning staff to corporate management through performance management schemes and by intensifying workloads, by destroying governance and collective endeavour and by undermining union agreements because they protect staff too much from change. These changes are dystopian. In this chapter I look at what is wrong with these changes and how they undermine both traditional liberal concepts of the university and shared agency. We need broad alliances of staff, students, the unions and the public to fight these changes.


Corporatism Culture Insecure work Performance management Governance Academic freedom Unions 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Adams
    • 1
  1. 1.Victoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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