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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: A critical appraisal of the position of the university within the knowledge-economy.
Author(s): Smith, Roderick
Supervisor(s): Boreham, Nicholas Charles
Keywords: University
Knowledge Management
Organizational Learning
Issue Date: Sep-2006
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis explores the contemporary position of the university by examining specific elements within the current knowledge discourse. In presenting a view of the Knowledge Management (KM) movement within the discipline of Management Science this thesis supports the claims that the emerging form of knowledge within the contemporary knowledge discourse is one that relates to or is embedded within performative criteria. This draws on the work of Jean-Francois Lyotard and other ‘postmodern’ thinkers to help explain why we appear to be facing a crucial paradox, i.e. a context where multiplicity and diversity appears to be paramount and yet knowledge itself is conforming to a more stable and less volatile form. This principal paradox is explained with the use of a model of the current knowledge discourse. The contemporary position is presented as one of ‘residual reflection’, where the contestation within the discourse results in a multiplicity of knowledge claims. Inevitably the existing structure of legitimacy within the discourse assists in the validation of knowledge claims within this fluid contested environment where there has not emerged a consensus through which legitimacy can be appropriately assigned. The current knowledge discourse appears to lie within this period of residual reflection and the manifestation of this is outlined in relation to the university. In particular, the university aligns itself with the commodification of knowledge and adopts an uncritical stance in relation to the imposition of market forces within Higher Education. This supports the legitimisation of learning that is external to the university and validates such phenomena as Lifelong Learning, Experiential Learning and other forms of work-based learning. Although not entirely critical of these forms of learning, this thesis presents a cautionary view of these developments. Specifically, the discipline of education in considering the position of the university within the postmodern, often calls for it to adopt or take up the critical position, to critically engage with the trends that appear to be emerging. However, where the university can be seen to be contributing to its own loss of legitimacy there is a danger that the opportunity for the university to undertake this necessary critical engagement is itself being undermined. The university is potentially losing its opportunity to engage within the knowledge discourse in an effective way. In many respects it is contributing to its own loss of legitimacy and in doing so opens up the discourse to other elements which themselves seek legitimacy. In its open acceptance of the benefits to be gained from the uncritical acceptance of the commodification of knowledge the university is doing more than allowing different views to be aired and considered. The university is, in fact, appearing to commercially succeed at the expense of its own position within the knowledge discourse. This thesis does not attempt to support the existence of the university as an institution. In presenting the deteriorating position of the university there is accepted only a greater degree of contestation within the knowledge discourse. The need to reconcile this contestation is necessary but the outcome or the means of reconciliation are not considered here. However, the opportunity for the university to play a part in this reconciliation is not fully appreciated currently, specifically within the academic community. The many claims that the university is in crisis and facing ruin are countered by the presentation of a genuine need, essentially the need to critically engage with the dynamism being experienced within the knowledge discourse. There is assumed to be an opportunity here for the university, but this opportunity is itself being lost and the position of the university, at a time when it appears to be at its most successful, is being undermined. Importantly its own actions are contributing to its inevitable loss of legitimacy and in turn its right or opportunity to position itself as the critical arbiter within the knowledge discourse.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Education

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