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MARKETING AND STORYTELLING ESSAYS

COPYRIGHT 1996 - 2008
4/6/08

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Faculty Evaluations: Resistance is Futile

Corporate America has attempted to implement a number of employee evaluation systems without much expressed success. There are several reasons why corporations began to focus on the universal evaluation of all employees.

Government

Government contracts and awards for corporations for the last half century included an evaluation component to certify them to be free of arbitrary, individual, and collective bias in hiring, rewarding, and promoting all employees.

The method embraced by corporate leadership was a system that could transfer all employee actions into a simple, single, mathematically measurable, computer generated, unbiased evaluation tool. To assure equity individual performance was replaced with a common performance standard across the organization.

1945-2005 and Beyond

Corporate leaders after World War II were persuaded if they knew the future they could organize resources to capitalize on that divine insight. They were told that when they possessed the power of divination they were then a modern incarnation of a King, a Pharaoh, a Caesar.

Modern mystics (consultants) came with their new methods of prediction and interpretation. If they could just listen to the King and then apply their mysterious skills (mathematical analysis and interpretation) to that information the CEO could not fail to see the future. To accomplish this, Pharaoh must centralize and expand power.

As Caesar's scientific knowledge and statistical understanding improved predictive accuracy could be attained with far less data. The CEO could now justify the destruction of the old system, break employee seniority rules, the grip of the unions, stock holders, the board, and government regulation.

University Apologists

A university is a business and we must act like a business to survive. To assure academic integrity all employees must be evaluated against a common standard. The missing or outdated job performance standards for tenured faculty should be replaced following the success of the business performance criterion. This new improved method puts the performance standards to be attained by professors, staff and administration where it belongs. This shift in academic power will be implemented by the professors themselves. Does form follows function or does content follow form?

Top administrators now will have the tools like those of their corporate brothers and sisters to break the disciplines (unions), destroy academic independence (unions), to help them repeal the academic protection of tenure (labor law).

Centralized Authority

The founders of this nation had experienced first hand the challenge of central authority. Who knows what the next King will be like? Hence they insisted on a balance of power. When only one group can set the standard and determine rewards and punishments (no matter how pure their intentions) the others are in trouble.

To be modern academics must follow State Institutions and embrace a dramatic shift in the structure of universities. But wait, if an academic speaks up and tells the tale s/he may be labeled a looser, needs reinvigorating, free loader, over the hill, out of date, lost touch with their field, textbook averse, devil, self absorbed, evil doer, seditionist, teaching lies, teaching outside of the bounds of their field, storytelling, anti-enlightenment, against AACSB, collaborator, radical, and heretic.

But now corporate America no longer has to worry about employee evaluations as a way to break the unions. They can fire all their employees and replace them with cheep labor (distance learning, adjuncts). Educational institutions are behind the curve in centralizing authority. Hiring the "right" consultants to research the problem while incorporating all in employees in the assessment process will still give the "right" answers. Corporate and academic consultants unusually come with a particular point of view. All problems are fixed applying that point of view.

If a corporate consulting firm were to advise decentralized authority to a CEO it would be a signal to sell your stock. Academic consulting firms are blaming decentralized authority on a low credit rating, poor enrollments, lack of giving, marketing failures, ineffective use of resources, low quality of students, and outdated teaching. The Solution

Let the garden grow. Move in and support the natural flow of current individuals and resources. Focus on success rather than wanting to "round up all the usual suspects". Sometime soon the usual subject may be you. Learn from current and past academic history? Evil is never too far away.