Advance of Academic Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century: An Economic and Philosophical Account of the Challenges Facing the University Today

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The paradox of the modern University is its unique position in society as both a knowledge-based machine and an economic global business model. This book examines the problems of this dual purpose as it impacts relationships between students and faculty; faculty and administrators; administrators and financial supporters as they struggle to find that balance between true purpose and the ever changing role of the modern university to its regional community. The author offers fresh insight and innovative ideas to this vigorous debate.


“In this welcome book, Garth Allen uses his interest in economics and experience to encourage the reader to think again about the nature of the university…the central purpose and form of the university.”
-Dr. Jorge Ferrao,
Rector University of Lurio Nampula, Mozambique

“An energetic and detailed survey of the ways the modern university takes its place in society…as both a knowledge-machine and a business model... I wish I had a text like this when I began my teaching career.”
-Prof. Frederic Will,
University of Phoenix,

"The author approached his topic from a vantage-point both sociological and ethical. This throws up views which are generally stimulating..."
-Prof. G.R. Evans,
University of Cambridge, England

Table of Contents

Foreword Dr Jorge Ferrao
Chapter 1. Introduction: Trust, Risk and Uncertainty: an education

Trust, risk, uncertainty and economic theory
Trust, incomplete information and procedural uncertainty
Chapter 2. The Secret Garden of Assessment and Grading in Higher Education

Grading student’s work: an uncertain business
Time and uncertainty
Choosing a grade: an anxious moment
Bargaining for a grade
Expectation, learning and experience
Ignorance: or taking decisions under uncertainty
Theory and empiricism in grading coursework in higher education
Chapter 3. An Economics of Privacy: Or, How Professors Learn About Their Students

Property rights and forced revelations
The risks of self-revelation: can universities respect non-discreditable disclosures?
Trust, reputation and expectation
Mistrust, due caution and the ‘pressure of time’
Chapter 4. Stress and Strain in Academic Life:

Introduction: grading students, valuing people
Stress, strain and coping: an academic health warning
Economic theory, decision making and assessment in HE
Experiences and perceptions of assessment
Chapter 5. Socially Responsible Transformations

Can universities have a conscience?
Table 1: The UK Citizen’s Charter
Social responsibility, the firm and the university: the games organizations should play
The socially responsible university: virtuous, virtual or fantasy?
Chapter 6. Academic Capitalism in the Global Age: Risk Aversion, Emulation and the ‘Knowledge Society’

Introduction: universities hoping to catch a code?
Which business model(s) or firm(s) to emulate?
Universities in the trusting society
The university, regionalization and globalization: finding the right location
Chapter 7. Education as Industry, Universities as Firms: The Cult of Emulation

Universities at risk and meaning business
The ‘top’, the ‘best’ and the ‘good’ in firms and universities
Model 1: The purpose of universities and firms
Model 2: Convergence in the purpose of universities and firms
Universities treating people well and behaving decently
Firms becoming universities and universities becoming firms
Chapter 8. Universities and Development: Uncertainties in Economic Method, and in Who Does and Should Benefit from the University

Faith in the knowledge society?
Language, mystification and benefit of higher education to regional development
Universities as economic organizations – how can we classify them?
Estimating the impact of universities: can we trust the numbers?
Inputs and outputs in higher education
Graduate labor markets, graduate utilization and graduate retention
Size and quality in higher education
Regional higher education, migration and international trade in higher education
Cluster’s last stand
Community economic development; reversing the lens
What do universities want to do and should they be allowed to do it?
The congruence between a common set of principles and a diverse set of outcomes for a region’s universities
Chapter 9. Collaboration in Higher Education: The Ritualization of Mutual Loathing?

Risky relationships and institutional gambles
Playing with risk
Chapter 10. Grand Designs: Transformation, Regionalism, Moral Certainty and the University

On the ‘Entrepreneurial University’
Regionalism and the third mission
The university and moral uncertainty: in search of goodness
A political economy of higher education
Collaborative empirical and theoretical research: an invitation rooted in trust, with risk but no uncertainty

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