New Managerialism As the Organizational Form of Neoliberalism

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Kathleen LYNCH, University College Dublin, Ireland
Bernie GRUMMELL, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland
This paper argues that new managerialism is not a neutral management strategy; it is a political project, borne out of a radical change in the ‘spirit of capitalism’ (Boltanksi and Chiapello, 2005). Drawing on extensive empirical research on primary, secondary and higher education in Ireland (Lynch, Grummell and Devine, New Managerialism in Education, 2015), this paper shows how managerialism was the mode of governance used by the Irish State to promote neo-liberal economic and social policies since the 1990s. The new managerial project was framed as one of ‘modernisation’, but the practices were not just ‘modernist’, they were distinctly political in terms of the values and mores incorporated into systems of governance, regulation and accountability.

New managerialism comprised three strategic elements: a narrative of strategic change, an organisational form inculcating market values and practices into public sector organisations, and a set of control technologies premised on measurement, calculation, and disregard for the relational caring self. It focused on outputs over inputs, instituting a language of competition, choice and customers over cooperation, care and citizenship. What were framed as ‘purely technical’ or ‘operational’ changes in public sector organisations, have in fact been major cultural and valuational shifts in the organisation of public sector work, changes that are, in certain ways, highly gendered.

As the implementation of managerialism across educational sectors has been quite different, not least due to the variable power and resistance of trade unions (Grummell and Lynch, 2015), the paper will highlight the complex interface between, the state, capital and the professions in the implementation of the new managerial project.