Corporatization of Higher Education

Professor Henry A. Giroux

Henry A. Giroux is one of the leading theorists of education whose sharp reflections on critical pedagogy and the politics of neo-liberalism have given us refreshingly new insights. In this piece we notice how he conceptualized the notion of ‘corporate time’—its utility and instrumentality, and the way in the ‘new economy’ it altered the very purpose of higher education. The university has ceased to become a democratic public sphere; instead, it has been reduced into a space for training while defining faculty as market-oriented producers, and students as consumers.

As higher education becomes increasingly corporatized, public time is replaced by corporate time. In corporate time, the “market is viewed as a master design for all affairs”; profit-making becomes the defining measure of responsibility; and consumption is the privileged site for determining value between the self and the larger social order. Corporate time fosters a narrow sense of leadership, agency, and public values and is largely indifferent to those concerns that are critical to a just society, but are not commercial in nature. The values of hierarchy, materialism, competition, and excessive individualism are enshrined under corporate time and play a defining role in how it allocates space, manages the particular forms of knowledge, and regulates pedagogical relations. Hence, it is not surprising that corporate time accentuates privatized and competitive modes of intellectual activity, largely removed from public obligations and social responsibilities. Divested of any viable democratic notion of the social, corporate time measures relationships, productivity, space, and knowledge according to the dictates of cost-efficiency, profit, and a market-based rationality. Within this framework, time is accelerated rather than slowed down and reconfigure academic labor, increasingly through, though not limited to, new computer generated technologies, which are making greater demands on faculty time, creating larger teaching loads, and producing bigger classes.

Corporate time maps faculty relationships through self-promoting market agendas and narrow definitions of self-interest. Caught on the treadmill of getting more grants, teaching larger classes, and producing more revenue for the university, faculty become another casualty of a business ideology that attempts to extract labor from campus workers at the lowest possible cost, one willing to sacrifice research and independence and integrity for profit. Under the reign of corporatization, time is accelerated and fragmented. Overworked and largely isolated, faculty are now rewarded for intellectual activities as entrepreneurial , measured largely in the capacity to transact and consume.

Corporate time provides a new framing mechanism for faculty relations and modes of production and suggests a basic shift in the role of the intellectual. Academics now become less important as a resource to provide students with knowledge and skills they need to engage the future as a condition of democratic possibilities. In the ‘new economy’, they are entrepreneurs who view the future as an investment opportunity and research as a private career opportunity rather than a civic and collective effort to improve public life.  Increasingly, academics find themselves being deskilled as they are pressured to teach more service-oriented and market-based courses and devote a less time to their roles as well-informed, public intellectuals or as cosmopolitan intellectuals who perform a valuable public service.

Corporate time not only translates faculty into multinational operatives and students into sources of revenue and captive consumers; it also makes a claim on how knowledge is valued.  Knowledge under corporate time is valued as a form of capital. good value for students means taking courses labeled as ‘relevant’ in market terms, which are often counterpoised to courses in the social sciences, humanities, and the fine arts that are concerned with forms of learning that do not really translate into either private gain or commercial value. Under the rule of corporate time, the classroom is no longer public space concerned with issues of justice, critical learning, or the knowledge and skills necessary for civic engagement. As training replaces education, the classroom, along with pedagogy itself, is transformed as a result of the corporate restructuring of the university.

                    Source:  Henry A. Giroux, On Critical Pedagogy, Continuum, New York/London,2011 

This article is published in The New Leam, FEBRUARY 2017 Issue( Vol .3  No.20) and available in print version.

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