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Academic capitalism and the entrepreneurial university: some perspectives from the Americas

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Abstract

Since the Worldwide Financial Crisis of 2008, higher education institutions around the world have been forced to change their financial practices to focus on the bottom line. One such approach is academic capitalism, the heart of which is the entrepreneurial university which views faculty members as producers of capital (not educators), students as consumers (not learners), and business/industry, accreditors, and NGOs as valued business partners. This article defines academic capitalism, reviews the research literature, presents perspectives of academic capitalism in the Americas and discusses the implications of academic capitalism for Latin America. The article ends using anthropophagi to assess what is useful about academic capitalism for Brazil.
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Academic capitalism and the entrepreneurial university:
some perspectives from the Americas
Capitalismo acadêmico e universidade empresarial: algumas perspectivas
das Américas
El capitalismo académico y la universidad empresarial: algunas
perspectivas de las Américas
Patrícia Somers1
Universidade do Texas em Austin, professora associada no Departamento de Liderança e
Política
Cory Davis2
Universidade do Texas em Austin, Senior Grants Specialist
Jessica Fry3
Universidade do Texas em Austin, assistente de pesquisa
Lisa Jasinski4
Universidade Trinity, Assistente Especial do Vice-Presidente de Assuntos Acadêmicos
Elida Lee5
Universidade do Texas em Austin, Diretora de Ecácia da Organização
Abstract: Since the Worldwide Financial Crisis of 2008, higher education institu-
tions around the world have been forced to change their nancial practices to focus
on the bottom line. One such approach is academic capitalism, the heart of which is
the entrepreneurial university which views faculty members as producers of capital
(not educators), students as consumers (not learners), and business/industry, accredi-
tors, and NGOs as valued business partners. This article denes academic capitalism,
1 Doutora pela Universidade de New Orleans; Mestre em Artes pela Universidade de Illinois.
2 Mestre em Artes pela Universidade de San Francisco; doutoranda no Programa de Liderança em Ensino
Superior da Universidade do Texas em Austin.
3 Doutora pelo Programa de Programa de Liderança em Ensino Superior da Universidade do Texas em
Austin; Mestre de Artes, Educação pela Universidade de Pennsylvania.
4 Doutora pelo Programa de Liderança em Ensino Superior da Universidade do Texas em Austin; Mestre
de Artes pela Universidade do Wisconin.
5 Doutora em Administração de Ensino Superior pela Universidade do Texas em Austin; Mestre em Edu-
cação, Currículo e Instrução pela Universidade do Texas em Austin.
http://dx.doi.org/10.18593/r.v43i1.13088
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reviews the research literature, presents perspectives of academic capitalism in the
Americas and discusses the implications of academic capitalism for Latin America.
The article ends using anthropophagi to assess what is useful about academic capita-
lism for Brazil.
Keywords: Academic capitalism. Entrepreneurial universities. Higher education.
Resumo: Desde a Crise Financeira Mundial de 2008, as instituições de ensino supe-
rior em todo o mundo foram forçadas a mudar suas práticas nanceiras para se con-
centrar em fatores não acadêmicos, o que foi chamado de capitalismo acadêmico. No
centro do capitalismo acadêmico está a universidade empresarial, que considera os
professores como produtores de capital (não educadores), estudantes como consumi-
dores (não aprendizes) e empresas/indústria, credenciadores e ONGs como valiosos
parceiros de negócios. Neste artigo dene-se capitalismo acadêmico, revisa-se a lite-
ratura de pesquisa, discutem-se perspectivas do capitalismo acadêmico das Americas
e discutem-se as implicações do capitalismo acadêmico para a América Latina. No
artigo naliza-se com o uso da antropofagia para avaliar o que é útil sobre o capita-
lismo acadêmico para o Brasil.
Palavras-chave: Capitalismo acadêmico. Universidades empresariais. Educação su-
perior.
Resumen: Desde la Crisis Financiera Mundial de 2008, las instituciones de educa-
ción superior de todo el mundo se han visto obligadas a cambiar sus prácticas nan-
cieras para centrarse en la línea de fondo no académicos, que se llama capitalismo
académico. En el corazón del capitalismo académico está la universidad emprende-
dora, que considera a los profesores como productores de capital (no educadores),
estudiantes como consumidores (no aprendices), y negocios / industria, acreditadores
y ONGs como valiosos socios de negocios. Este artículo dene el capitalismo acadé-
mico, revisa la literatura de investigación, discute perspectivas del capitalismo aca-
démico en las Américas y discute las implicaciones del capitalismo académico para
América Latina. El artículo termina utilizando antropofagia para evaluar lo que es
útil sobre el capitalismo académico para Brasil.
Palabras clave: Capitalismo Académico. Universidades Empresariales. Educación
Superior.
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Academic capitalism and...
1 INTRODUCTION
One criticism of higher education in the United States is its spiraling cost
of higher education. With public subsidies at low levels, the average tuition at a public
4-year university is $3,980 USD/year (COLLEGE BOARD, 2015). Contrasted with
that gure is $56,000 USD for total cost (tuition + books + living expenses) at the
most expensive private university. As a result, the debate on how to reduce costs
for students and their families focuses on the twin objectives of reducing costs and
obtaining new revenue in the form of patents, grants, contracts, gifts from corporations
and individuals, fees for services, and other entrepreneurial activities. Collectively,
these activities are labelled academic capitalism, a term developed by Slaughter
and Rhoades (2009). They dene academic capitalism as “the pursuit of market and
market-like activities to generate external revenue.” With the emphasis on generating
revenue, academic capitalism forces universities to become more entrepreneurial and
corporate; thus the term entrepreneurial university. In the entrepreneurial university, the
emphasis is on generating income and cutting costs. Faculty, sta, and administrators
who excel with this approach are rewarded.
The move to the entrepreneurial university has been the trend in higher
education institutions in Brazil, and in Latin America in general. Globalization, with
the prioritization of the Knowledge Society, and with the focus on the development
of high level human resources, focuses on universities. In Brazil, the 1996 legislation
provides for exible higher education institutions in all sectors and supports an
expansion of the higher education system, especially in the private for-prot sector.
This article reports mainly the literature on academic capitalism and
presents, perspectives, data and examples of academic capitalism from the Americas,
and discusses the implications of academic capitalism for Latin American universities.
We end with a discussion of academic capitalism in Brazil.
2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Much has been written about universities operating within a contemporary
neoliberal economic framework, including the specic rise of what Slaughter and
Leslie (1997, p. 6) termed the “academic capitalist knowledge-learning regime.”
Slaughter and Leslie argued that universities behave like businesses in the commercial
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marketplace and the inuence of market forces on post-secondary education is stronger
than ever before. Slaughter and Leslie mark the beginning of academic capitalism as
the eect of the neoliberal ideology of President Ronald Reagan in the U.S. of the
1980s. Reagan’s neoliberal state was, rst and foremost, concerned with advancing
the interests of select large corporations and private individuals, rather than the greater
good of society (BALTODANO, 2012), breaking with the philosophy of education as a
public good to benet all citizens. Neoliberal policies promote privatization, industrial
deregulation, commercialization, accountability for public agencies, and seek to
promote the so-called “new knowledge economy” (SLAUGHTER; RHOADES,
2009). Within a neoliberal context, higher education has been transformed eectively
from a public good to a commodity that can be sold to benet the narrow interests of
wealthy individuals and corporations. The 2008 global recession amplied critiques
concerning college aordability (SLAUGHTER; RHOADES, 2016), reinforcing the
belief that post-secondary education is a costly private good.
Rather than a single policy or trend, academic capitalism is a framework
implemented by a network of actors through federal and state governmental policies,
public attitudes, and university practices. Academic capitalism aects nearly every
part of a university and every stakeholder – including students, faculty members,
administrators, university advisors, and society at large. We maintain that these
changes have caused many negative eects.
One indication of the trend is the rapid rise of educational costs for students
and their families (SPELLINGS, 2006). A signicant reduction in public support for
higher education is the leading cause for this increase (PRIEST; ST. JOHN, 2006;
WINSTON, 1997, p. 279). Also contributing to rising costs, Slaughter and Rhoades
(2004, p. 279) argued that universities have not done enough to reduce expenses,
as they initiate market/market-like strategies to “exploit the commercial potential of
students” and have proted from an increase in non-instructional auxiliary services.
Prior to the 1980s, in the United States, many poor and middle-income students
benetted from federal and state grant aid to pay for college; now these programs
have been replaced by loan programs which require students accrue considerable debt
to nance their education (SELINGO, 2015). In the book Academically Adrift, Arum
and Roska (2010) argued that decades of rising educational costs have not led to gains
in student learning. Taken together, the net eect of academic capitalism is a more
expensive and lower quality education.
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Academic capitalism and...
Faculty members and researchers are another population negatively
inuenced by the neoliberal academic capitalist regime. The face of the faculty has
changed signicantly; for example, the number of part-time and adjunct faculty
has increased while the number of tenured positions has declined (AMERICAN
ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS, 2014). Across the United States,
faculty members have had limited wage growth and faculty unions have reduced
bargaining power (DONOGHUE, 2008; SLAUGHTER; LESLIE, 1997). Concurrently,
the number of highly-paid administrators and administrative professionals, called
“administrative bloat” have increased (BOK, 2002; CHACE, 2013). The lasting eect
of these shifts in the workforce is an erosion of shared governance and increasing
tension between faculty and administrators (BOWEN; TOBIN, 2015; GERBER,
2014; GINSBERG, 2013; GONZALES, 2012). Graduate student funding has also
been negatively inuenced and many graduate students face increasingly limited
prospects to secure full-time employment in the professoriate.
While the faculty workforce has been negatively inuenced by academic
capitalism, the secondary consequences to society are even more severe. Academic
capitalism threatens the core tenets of academic freedom – a founding principle that
ensured an investment in pure research to advance the interests of society. The total
investment in federal grants to promote scientic research remained stagnant since
the 1980s (SLAUGHTER; RHOADES, 2004). The line has been blurred between
the university campus and the marketplace. Faculty members must compete with one
another for limited research funding and often, research projects with commercial
potential are more likely to receive funding. Within the prevailing academic capitalist
framework, support for faculty research has been diverted away from the arts and
humanities and toward science and technology disciplines where breakthrough
discoveries can be patented and sold (SLAUGHTER; RHOADES, 2004). Many
business leaders now serve on the governing boards of private universities where
they advise administrators and promote policies to further advantage their commercial
interests (SLAUGHTER; RHOADES, 2016). Due to the changes in research funding,
universities no longer operate as independent agencies to promote the social good
faculty members must adapt their research agendas according to the priorities of
granting agencies and large corporations.
As Slaughter and Leslie (1997, p. 6) warned, the political and economic
changes that enabled the growth of academic capitalism are “global and structural;
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they are not likely to disappear and allow us to return to business as usual.” Whereas
it is unlikely that the damage will ever be fully reversed, we argue that public re-
investment in higher education may be a rst step in beginning to curb this harmful
trend. By shining a light on data on research and teaching at one public research
university in the United States, we seek to bring awareness and ultimately action to
these troubling concerns.
One particularly troubling organizational tool used by academic capitalists
is disruptive innovation, which uses technology to restructure entire industries and
decrease costs dramatically to enroll new student-customers. For example, online
university courses appeal to many students due to the perception of being a more
convenient, less rigorous, and less expensive alternative to traditional education. In the
United States, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and online-only institutions,
many of which are for-prot, have emerged to ll the gap left by traditional colleges
and universities by serving non-traditional or low-income students. Christensen and
Eyring (2011, p. 47) asserted that disruptive innovation is making “a complicated and
expensive product [in this case, a college education] simpler and cheaper” in order to
attract a “new set of customers.”
Originally, Christensen and Eyring (2011) dened “disruptive innovation”
as a technology-based theory for the business world; however, they have since applied
it to education. According to this theory, disruptive innovation has the potential
to take over an existing industry such as higher education. Christensen believes
institutions like the University of Phoenix will be “the leader of tomorrow”, while
half of the traditional colleges in the United States could face bankruptcy in 15
years (GOLDSTEIN, 2015, p. 2). Lepore (2014) insists Christensen’s theory, which
originated in the computer disk-drive industry, is historically awed and should not be
applied to colleges and universities.
Using Harvard University as the example for The Innovative University,
Christensen and Eyring (2011) asserted that the modern university should include a
mix of face-to-face and online learning. Institutions failing to disrupt this way will
inevitably face hardships, while those that “marry the benets of the on-campus
experience and online learning” will experience growth “beyond what they imagined”
(CHRISTENSEN; EYRING, 2011, p. 51). This is done by making drastic philosophical
changes that attack centuries of educational tradition, such as cutting down on full-
time, tenured faculty members and employing contingent faculty willing to commit
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to faster and cheaper degree oerings; establishing “heavyweight innovation teams”;
and cutting back on the number of graduate programs oered, and oering “no frills”
four-year university degrees for $10,000 USD (LEPORE, 2014; CHRISTENSEN;
EYRING, 2011).
While Lepore (2014) argues that this type of system pertains more to
business start-up companies and not universities, the strategy of disruptive innovation
has been adopted by many prestigious research universities, because some leaders
argue that higher education should be held to the same standards as other industries –
those that do not innovate and disrupt will cease to exist (SELINGO, 2012).
Supporters of Christensen and disruptive innovation believe online degrees
and other cost-cutting methods will reinvent higher education, but empirical research
has yet to back up this theory. The next section of this article presents a case study of a
research university that employs a strategy of innovative disruption by hiring cheaper
academic professionals to replace tenured faculty members and reduce costs.
3 ACADEMIC CAPITALISM AND THE RESEARCH UNIVERSITY
In the U.S., faculty salaries account for just under 17% of a university’s
budget (IPEDS, 2015). Academic capitalism suggests that some faculty work can be
accomplished by much cheaper academic professionals who do not have the salaries,
academic freedom, and other job protections of the faculty. In the U.S. the “other
professional” category (i.e., academic professionals) is the fastest growing job title in
universities (SNYDER; DILLOW, 2011). In fall of 2011, nearly 25% of employees
at the most prestigious and productive Research Intensive (R1)6 universities in the
U.S. were categorized as other professionals (Table 1). Since the 1970s, full-time
faculty positions at American universities decreased by 26% and full-time tenure-
track positions dropped by 50%. Further, full-time, non-tenure track faculty jobs
increased by 62%, with a 76% increase in part-time instructional sta. Fully 70% of
6 The Carnegie ClassicationTM is the framework for recognizing and describing institutional type in U.S.
higher education. The category doctoral universities includes institutions that awarded at least 20 research/
scholarship doctoral degrees during the current year. Doctoral universities are further dened by their
research productivity R1: Doctoral Universities have the highest research activity; R2: Doctoral Uni-
versities have a higher research activity; and R3: Doctoral Universities have a moderate research activity.
The scheme also has categories for Master’s colleges and universities, liberal arts colleges, community
colleges, specialty schools and tribal (Native American) colleges.
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all employees who teach in American universities are now o the tenure track and
part time (AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS, 2014).
Table 1 – R1 universities in fall 2011, by percent of academic professionals
Research 1 Institution Total Employees Other Professionals Percent
Arizona State University-Tempe 12006 3732 31.08%
Boston College 4601 866 18.82%
Boston University 12213 2211 18.10%
Brandeis University 2289 520 22.72%
Brown University 4870 988 20.29%
California Institute of Technology 3989 1095 27.45%
Carnegie Mellon University 7577 1850 24.42%
Case Western Reserve University 5705 1841 32.27%
Clemson University 6282 1528 24.32%
Colorado State University-Fort Collins 9593 2684 27.98%
Columbia University in the City of
New York 19324 3805 19.69%
Cornell University 12873 2548 19.79%
CUNY Graduate School and University
Center 2299 295 12.83%
Duke University 18976 7087 37.35%
Emory University 11994 4519 37.68%
Florida International University 5954 1431 24.03%
Florida State University 9580 2198 22.94%
George Mason University 6032 971 16.10%
George Washington University 6827 2535 37.13%
Georgetown University 6518 1104 16.94%
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main
Campus 10526 4121 39.15%
Georgia State University 6402 1278 19.96%
Harvard University 18969 4271 22.52%
Indiana University-Bloomington 11473 2664 23.22%
Iowa State University 8586 2037 23.72%
Johns Hopkins University 21119 7102 33.63%
Kansas State University 6357 1819 28.61%
Louisiana State University 8855 2639 29.80%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 14570 2341 16.07%
Michigan State University 14404 4975 34.54%
New York University 18643 3225 17.30%
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Research 1 Institution Total Employees Other Professionals Percent
North Carolina State University at
Raleigh 11627 3281 28.22%
Northeastern University 5616 1428 25.43%
Northwestern University 9629 3104 32.24%
Ohio State University-Main Campus 30643 11522 37.60%
Oregon State University 6397 1193 18.65%
Pennsylvania State University-Main
Campus 18126 4015 22.15%
Princeton University 6788 2117 31.19%
Purdue University-Main Campus 15163 2529 16.68%
Rice University 2963 716 24.16%
Rutgers University-New Brunswick 11235 3085 27.46%
Stanford University 16653 4350 26.12%
Stony Brook University 5561 1186 21.33%
SUNY at Albany 3554 858 24.14%
Syracuse University 6546 962 14.70%
Temple University 9109 2069 22.71%
Texas A & M University-College
Station 10866 2765 25.45%
Texas Tech University 6557 879 13.41%
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville 15520 2602 16.77%
The University of Texas at Arlington 5697 558 9.79%
The University of Texas at Austin 24765 4688 18.93%
The University of Texas at Dallas 4253 971 22.83%
Tufts University 5791 1462 25.25%
Tulane University of Louisiana 5338 488 9.14%
University at Bualo 6294 1513 24.04%
University of Alabama at Birmingham 9761 3388 34.71%
University of Arizona 15161 5407 35.66%
University of Arkansas 6032 1666 27.62%
University of California-Berkeley 15957 4259 26.69%
University of California-Davis 16167 3821 23.63%
University of California-Irvine 9965 2371 23.79%
University of California-Los Angeles 22803 6802 29.83%
University of California-Riverside 5223 1094 20.95%
University of California-San Diego 15873 4702 29.62%
University of California-Santa Barbara 6417 1403 21.86%
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Research 1 Institution Total Employees Other Professionals Percent
University of California-Santa Cruz 4888 1229 25.14%
University of Central Florida 6822 1501 22.00%
University of Chicago 11478 3715 32.37%
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 9436 1978 20.96%
University of Colorado Boulder 9818 924 9.41%
University of Connecticut 11519 4321 37.51%
University of Delaware 5820 1255 21.56%
University of Florida 18070 3528 19.52%
University of Georgia 13236 3839 29.00%
University of Hawaii at Manoa 6150 1613 26.23%
University of Houston 6761 2079 30.75%
University of Illinois at Chicago 15282 5715 37.40%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Cham-
paign 16436 3273 19.91%
University of Iowa 13060 4706 36.03%
University of Kansas 10261 2784 27.13%
University of Kentucky 13627 3194 23.44%
University of Louisville 7924 2482 31.32%
University of Maryland-College Park 13451 2661 19.78%
University of Massachusetts-Amherst 7975 1376 17.25%
University of Miami 11697 1392 11.90%
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 24674 7603 30.81%
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 22608 4308 19.06%
University of Mississippi 3878 881 22.72%
University of Missouri-Columbia 19681 4297 21.83%
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 8423 1902 22.58%
University of New Mexico-Main
Campus 10156 2621 25.81%
University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill 15472 4514 29.18%
University of North Texas 5525 978 17.70%
University of Notre Dame 6634 1901 28.66%
University of Oklahoma-Norman
Campus 7508 1785 23.77%
University of Oregon 6074 1201 19.77%
University of Pennsylvania 16771 4668 27.83%
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh
Campus 14928 4716 31.59%
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Research 1 Institution Total Employees Other Professionals Percent
University of Rochester 10133 1772 17.49%
University of South Carolina-Columbia 8542 2907 34.03%
University of South Florida-Main
Campus 7778 1786 22.96%
University of Southern California 19144 6060 31.65%
University of Utah 11114 2954 26.58%
University of Virginia-Main Campus 10169 2630 25.86%
University of Washington-Seattle
Campus 21755 9665 44.43%
University of Wisconsin-Madison 21154 7478 35.35%
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 4992 1204 24.12%
Vanderbilt University 24982 8065 32.28%
Virginia Commonwealth University 7511 897 11.94%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State
University 10275 1880 18.30%
Washington State University 7371 1730 23.47%
Washington University in St Louis 13964 2924 20.94%
Wayne State University 7782 2627 33.76%
West Virginia University 8373 1647 19.67%
Yale University 15789 2221 14.07%
Average 24.78%
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (2018).
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the national
data system for universities in the U.S., identies eight classications of employees:
1) executive, administrative, and managerial, 2) faculty (instructional/research/public
service), 3) instruction/research assistants, 4) other professionals (support/service),
5) technical sta and paraprofessionals, 6) clerical and secretarial sta, 7) skilled
crafts persons, and 8) service/maintenance. Other professionals (support/service) are
dened as “sta employed for the primary purpose of performing academic support,
student service, and institutional support, whose assignments would require either a
baccalaureate degree or higher or experience of such kind and amount as to provide
a comparable background.” (INTEGRATED POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION
DATA SYSTEM, 2015). These jobs include computer software engineers, counselors,
academic support specialists, business operations specialists, human resources,
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convention planners, nancial analysts, database administrators, health educators,
directors, librarians, therapists, and registered nurses, among many other job titles.
Lee, Somers and Fry (2016) investigated the duties of other professionals at a
research university (for purposes of the study called Entrepreneurial Research University
or ERU) in the U.S. They surveyed 1,036 non-faculty professionals to determine their
involvement in three areas of core faculty work: research, teaching, and public service.
This included faculty-like work such as publishing in peer-reviewed journals, applying
for grants, designing curricula, sitting on committees, and collaborating with industry.
Of the 759 respondents, 78% participated in at least one of the three elements of faculty
work. Forty percent reported involvement in teaching, 40% in research, and 47% in
public service. The majority of other professionals who participated in teaching or
public service as part of their employment said that these duties accounted for less than
25% of their time. Other professionals who participated in research reported this being
either less than 25% or more than 80% of their job duties.
The study found that a large number of professionals at ERU were directly
participating in the production of research, teaching, and/or public service. Their
duties were less supportive or administrative and more aligned with faculty-like work,
particularly with research and public service. These results described the duties and
roles of the fast growing job category of other professionals at research universities. To
meet the demands of academic capitalism and the morphing mission of universities,
other professionals are recruited to supplement the core missions of the university
through faculty-like job duties, replacing full-time tenured faculty.
The ultimate irony of the Lee, Somers, and Fry (2016) research is that it
demonstrates the destructive eect of academic capitalism on the elite R-1 institutions.
Since R-1s are the vaunted model on which various world-wide rankings are founded,
other types of universities are forced to adapt market-like behaviors in the wild hope
of reaching the top of the rankings. On the other hand, these non-R1 institutions have
generally fewer resources, missions that focus on teaching and public service, and a
dierent mix of students. While marketization harms the academic and public service
spirit of R-1 universities, it can overextend or bankrupt other types of institutions.
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4 APPLICATION TO LATIN AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES
From the data presented in this article, it is clear that the expansion and
internationalization of higher education in the U.S. are accompanied by marketization
of the academy. Internal and external forces have pushed Latin American universities,
regardless of their mission, toward marketization as well. At private universities and
many public universities, these students pay tuition and take out student loans to pay
educational costs. In order to propel Latin American universities to the top of the
world rankings, additional funds are needed regularly to modernize facilities, purchase
new technologies, and hire “superstar” faculty members. This “academic arms race”
to climb the ladder of international rankings is costly and has high stakes for Latin
American universities, often resulting in choices that only satisfy the “neoliberal”
ranking metrics instead of other domestic or regional development priorities
(ORDORIKA; LLOYD, 2015, p. 387). Universities that fall short in the international
rankings, regardless of their mission or metrics, are viewed critically by governments,
the public and the media. Thus, university/industry partnerships, technology/patent
transfers, and government/NGO grants and contracts, and other means of bringing in
new revenue are required. When accompanied by a corresponding decrease in funding
for instruction, universities must hire itinerant faculty members and charge tuition to
meet the full cost of instruction.
This academic capitalism by accretion and subtraction is prevalent in higher
education in the U.S. However, the implications are dierent for institutions in Latin
America. Universities in both regions face similar challenges: decreasing funding,
mission creep, and the pressure to compete internationally with the top research
universities (BERNASCONI, 2008). However, while there are exceptions, in general
Latin American universities do not have the kind of university-industry partnership
opportunities that abound in the U.S. (BERNASCONI, 2008).
Much like their North American counterparts, universities in Latin America
were founded to serve as a public good through a commitment to study and solve
social, economic and political problems. With this goal, the typical characteristics
of the Latin American public university in the 1960s and 1970s were no tuition
charges, self-governance through democratic proceedings involving faculty, students,
alumni, and sta, full state funding for university operations, autonomy of university
governance and academic freedom from political powers (BERNASCONI, 2008, p.
34
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33). This autonomy from politics allowed public universities to play a central role in
“transforming society” as agents of social change.
The Latin American university model changed from the 1970s through the
end of the 20th century. External factors such as military dictatorships, economic crises,
and neoliberal politics threatened the university’s place in society as the autonomous,
publicly funded, critical social conscience. During that time, Latin America moved
from an elite access model (up to 15% of 18-22 year-olds enrolled in higher education),
to the massication stage (up to 35%) or a universal access stage (more than 35%)
(AROCENA; SUTZ, 2005). The rapidity of the enrollment expansion placed a burden
on institutions to increase programming and nancially support a greater number of
students. The expansion led to a deterioration of the quality of programs as well as
a diversication of the kinds of programs and institutions (BERNASCONI, 2008).
The growth of enrollment, expansion of extant institutions, and the creation of new
institutions required increased state nancial support, which, particularly in the middle
of the ination and political unrest of the late 20th century, was not readily available. Out
of necessity and with the encouragement of organizations like the World Bank, many
Latin American universities initiated tuition charges for public university students,
moving away from the traditional model of no tuition (BERNASCONI, 2008).
Globalization and international rankings put pressures on Latin American
universities to adopt more capitalistic practices to increase their rankings. One of the
challenges with the existing university ranking systems is that they are based on a
narrow set of criteria that reinforce an Anglo-Saxon model of higher education above
other alternatives (ORDORIKA; LLOYD, 2015). The traditionally free, public higher
education model focused primarily on domestic economic and social development
issues is not valued in a rankings formula that privilege research output and academic
reputation (ORDORIKA; LLOYD, 2015).
Rankings have become an important part of higher education as universities
use them to demonstrate their value and to inuence potential students and their
parents. An alternative to changing the traditional, free higher education system is to
create new criteria for the rankings calculus. For instance, the Comparative Study of
Mexican Universities (produced by the National Autonomous University of Mexico)
provides information on 3,000 institutions through an interactive database, but
deliberately does not assign institutional rankings (ORDORIKA; LLOYD, 2015).
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Academic capitalism and...
Dias and Seram (2015, p. 335) identied three factors that aected
Brazilian public universities since the 1990s: academic capitalism, innovation, and
research productivity. These are reected in the “fourth mission of the university”,
model 2 knowledge production, entrepreneurialism, obsession with rankings and the
mercantilization of knowledge. Based on what they label the “neoliberal fable” of
Reagan and Thatcher, Dias and Seram indicated that little critical discussion has
transpired of how these activities have inuenced the social role of the Latin American
university. They concluded that Brazilian universities should critically debate the
role of the public university and prevent these institutions from becoming more than
diploma, publication and patent mills.
Leite (2010, p. 228) suggested universities have responded to trends and
mandates from the Global North by adopting the Guaraní tradition of anthropophagy:
Instead of copying foreign ideas there is a tendency to create
new ones and re-elaborate them with an anticipatory view and
an accent of Global South localism. A critical mass and part
of the political class adopts the neo-liberal [educational] policy
initially, and then immediately afterwards it commits anthropo-
phagy – it digests what it nds useful, regurgitates what does
not concern it, and absorbs what will do some good.
The alternative of becoming caught up in the academic arms race for higher
rankings through increased entrepreneurial activities can result in “underdeveloped
universities” that shun their mission to provide a public good (RHOADES et al., 2004,
p. 326). Instead of emulating academic capitalism, Rhoades and colleagues suggested
an alternative strategy where universities might nd success by emphasizing their
strengths. They present the example of the largest private university in Mexico, the
Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), to demonstrate
how a university has incorporated aspects of a western model with the traditional
public service mission of Latin American universities. ITESM focuses on professional
degrees and undergraduate education. It narrowed its mission by purposefully limiting
involvement in research and doctoral programs. The anthropophagic strategy allows
ITESM to maintain commitment to the community while meeting the standards for
accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Brazilian higher education experienced an increase in academic capitalism
in the 1990s with the increase of private for-prot institutions. These for-prot
institutions were designed for workforce and technical training, moving higher
36
Patrícia Somers et al.
Disponível em: www.editora.unoesc.edu.br
education in Brazil towards a “knowledge factory” model centered on training
“consumers” and providing an educational product (MARTINS, 2008, p. 736).
In contrast to the traditional free, public institutions dedicated to humanistic
values and the diusion of knowledge and academic research, these newer for-prot
institutions provided professionalization and training for the growing technology
industry in Brazil. The employment crisis of the 1990s placed additional pressure
on higher education to produce graduates with skills for the workforce, reinforcing a
model of academic capitalism in universities (MARTINS, 2008). The movement of
higher education in Brazil towards academic capitalism should be met with caution
(MARTINS, 2008), since such a transition results in a slow corrosion of the cultural
role of universities in Brazil to serve the public good and the opportunities for students
to obtain degrees at little to no cost.
McCowan (2017) described Brazilian higher education as having a high
degree of classication, oering few interdisciplinary programs, and relying on the
pedagogical strategy of lecture-based courses. These characteristics encourage the
unbundling of services into smaller, more cost eective units. Some universities
award “badges” for each unit that can be “stacked” to make certicates or a degree.
This makes the educational “product” more accessible, attractive professionally, and
aordable for employed adults who seek a degree to enhance their career prospects.
Unbundling can range from outsourcing of services (such as janitorial, printing,
parking, grading papers) to cut costs to developing online lectures by a superstar faculty
member which are integrated into a course taught by an inexpensive graduate student
in an eort to increase revenues. McCowan noted three threats of undbundling: the
loss of connections between teaching and research, the undermining of education as a
public good and issues with extended basic research projects with no quick nancial
return in terms of a patent.
Brazilian institutions can respond to the impending threats of academic
capitalism in several ways. First, the strong traditions of academic autonomy, self-
governance, and academic freedom should be maintained. This is in contrast to
the erosion of self-governance and growth of intrusive management in the U.S.
(BOWEN; TOBIN, 2015). Second, federal universities implemented changes to
salary and retirement benets that could discourage new Ph.D.s from pursuing an
academic career; those perquisites should be restored. Third, industry-university
partnerships should be collaborative, in contrast with the power dierential that
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Academic capitalism and...
favors corporations in U.S. partnerships. Finally, faculty members and institutions
should resist eorts designed to “free” faculty members from less productive student
advising and teaching to focus on much more aggressive grant writing, fundraising,
research and outreach activities.
5 CONCLUSION: THE REAL IMPACT OF ACADEMIC
CAPITALISM
To conclude this article, we briey discuss the academic arms race through
the use of academic capitalism. The inuences are both institutional and individual.
All higher education institutions do not have the same mission or context.
Ordorika and Lloyd (2015) have likened the international rankings of universities to
a “Harvard-ometer”. Ironically, for some universities the only similarity to Harvard
is that both have students, faculty and administrators. To use the same criteria to
compare Harvard with intercultural universities in Mexico, online universities that
provide outreach to less populated areas in Latin America, indigenous institutions,
the multilateral University of Lusophone Afro-Brazilian International Integration
(UNILAB) and University of Latin American Integration (UNILA), and Zumbi dos
Palmares University is unfair and an extreme exercise in isomorphism. Yet, this is
exactly the eect of international rankings.
Lost in all of the discussion about research productivity and industry
collaboration is the philosophy of higher education as a public good equally accessible
for poor, middle-class and wealthy students alike. In the U.S., rst-generation and
low-income college students are often served by regional universities, community
colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities,
and Tribal (Indigenous) Colleges. These institutions provide an important and vital
service to students who might be under-served at Research Universities. Further, the
“value added” for these students can exceed that of the intellectual and pecuniary
gains for students at many elite universities.
Academic capitalism likewise has a profound impact on the faculty.
Gonzales, Martinez, and Ordu (2014) talk of the “striving university” and the
resulting strain on faculty members. A striving university is “prestige-seeking,”
reaching for increased prestige through fundraising, developing selective student
admissions, recruiting and rewarding faculty members, making curricular changes,
38
Patrícia Somers et al.
Disponível em: www.editora.unoesc.edu.br
reallocating resources to favor research and the development of a public relations
program (“branding”) (GONZALES; MARTINEZ; ORDU, 2014, p. 1099). The
singular goal of the striving university is to advance in the rankings and increase
institutional prestige.
A striving university, however, has a much more limited budget than
a Research University. The result is dramatically increased expectations for the
faculty with little support and infrastructure. The faculty members interviewed by
Gonzales and colleagues talked about “being all things to everyone” (GONZALEZ;
MARTINEZ; ORDU, p. 1105). In the striving university, faculty are required to teach
40 students per class, advise students, research, publish, write grant applications,
develop an international reputation and other activities intended to help boost the
university’s rankings. With both new technologies and increased expectations, the
faculty members have very uid lines between their work life and family life: their
challenge is to “outsmart time”. Further, the focus is on publishing in highly selective
journals and doing research that would generate revenue in the form of grants,
contracts and patents. The result is that the aspirations of the striving university have
aected faculty life for the worse.
Faculty members at striving universities also report increased surveillance
of their work outcomes, including the imposition of many measures with which they
disagree. Their accountability is only calculated in narrow quantitative terms, such as
number of publications, impact factor for publications, grant dollars generated and the
amount of revenue generated per faculty member. Some faculty members report the
expected revenue generation is ve times their annual salary per annum.
The unstoppable forces of decreased funding and increased expectations
have required universities around the globe to turn to the philosophy of academic
capitalism to produce a cheaper “educational product” and increase faculty research,
fundraising and business/industry activities. In the United States, all of these
expectations have created a dysfunctional climate for faculty members. However,
Brazil, with its dual approach to higher education may have a dierent trajectory.
The high-quality, free, federal university system stands poised to resist whole-scale
academic capitalism. On the other hand, the private sector, with its monthly tuition
charges that approach the national minimum wage, is very susceptible to putting prots
over people. We recommended that all Brazilian faculty can commit anthropophagy,
resisting the harmful parts of academic capitalism while modifying positive elements.
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Academic capitalism and...
This continues the strong tradition of autonomous public universities that serve the
needs of students and community.
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Recebido em: 07 de março de 2017
Aceito em: 03 de setembro de 2017
Endereço para correspondência: Austin, TX 78712, EUA; pasomers@austin.utexas.edu
... Their examination of the literature found an emerging "academic arms race" to increasing international university rankings, which resulted in the need to hire prominent faculty, improve facilities, and purchase new technology (Somers, Davis, Fry, Jasinski, & Lee, 2018, p. 33). The driving force, according to Somers et al. (2018), is "decreas[ed] funding, mission creep, and the pressure to compete internationally" (p. 33). ...
... This shift toward academic capitalism in Latin America may contribute to isomorphism, not accounting for the local context. Somers et al. (2018) suggested Brazil's "high-quality, free, federal university systems stand poised to resist whole-scale academic capitalism. On the other hand, the private sector…is very susceptible to putting profits over people (p.38)." ...
... Somers, P., Davis, C., Fry, J., Jasinski, L., & Lee, E. (2018). Academic capitalism and the entrepreneurial university: Some perspectives from the Americas. ...
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This paper details the findings of a case study conducted at a 4-year private university in the United States. The study site was outsourcing online learning through university-industry partnerships with online program management providers (OPMs). The case study was conducted to reveal university administrators’ views on (a) working with OPMs to design, deliver, and implement online learning and (b) how online learning became an institutional practice. The study findings indicated that the university’s culture of innovation resulting from institutional support in the form of governances, grants, and services led to university administrators’ decision to outsource. The study findings also indicated that university administrators did not trust OPMs because the OPMs did not meet university administrators’ expectations. University administrators expected OPM staff to (a) have advanced degrees and experience working in higher education, (b) understand the academic discipline for the program they were supporting, and (c) understand higher education practices and policies. Lastly, the study findings revealed that decision-making is an essential process to promote trust and reduce conflicting expectations. Administrators of other institutions can reference these study findings when considering partnerships with OPMs.
... Aproximando o debate ao contexto latino-americano, Somers et al. (2018) destacam que o capitalismo acadêmico é um fenômeno estrutural e global, mas que se expressa de maneira diferenciada no continente por conta do reduzido número de parcerias entre universidades e indústrias. Essa característica protegeria, em alguma medida, o papel das universidades como "agente de mudança social", ainda que sejam pressionadas a cumprir metas típicas do capitalismo acadêmico, como aumentar a sua produtividade e a capacidade de inovação e excelência, visando a sua internacionalização e o bom posicionamento em rankings globais. ...
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... The first contradiction is thus related to the adverse effects of a teaching-oriented faculty on the outcomes for Russel Group universities. According to Somers et al. [Somers et al. 2018], one of the challenges facing entrepreneurial universities is related to a lack of resources that focus on teaching orientation. However, much more is expected from the fac-ulty being more diverse and multidirectional, as they will be able to perform different activities simultaneously (teaching, research, entrepreneurship, engaging with society, etc.) [Mccowan 2017]. ...
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... Thus, academic capitalism is effective from a set of initiatives and behaviors that are economically stimulated to increase the collection of external resources, through the subsumption of available human capital, that is, teaching work (SLAUGHTER; LESLIE, 1997). According to Somers et al. (2018), under the aegis of academic capitalism, universities begin to participate in the competitive market, subjecting their academic production and extension strategies to the demands and needs/pressures of capital. ...
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