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University of Silesia in Katowice

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Seminar entitled “The university as a particularly complex organisation: how to manage it?”

24.02.2022 - 10:21, update 01.03.2022 - 11:19
Editors: OO

The third seminar in the series of meetings on the preparation and implementation of the new concept of studies at the University of Silesia in Katowice will be held on Thursday, 10 March 2022, at 4 p.m. The guest speaker will be Prof. Monika Kostera. The meeting will be broadcast online on the University’s YouTube channel.

Description of the seminar

Universities are particularly complex open systems. They function as organisations with non-obvious boundaries, with hard-to-define standards of productivity, they are competitive, and act as a buffer between the present and the future of the wider social system. Following the principles of a systems approach, they require a specific management subsystem, at least as complex as themselves, in order to function efficiently.

Universities have a long history and are among the older social institutions still operating in some form. In fact, sometimes they have been operating for centuries in the same organisational units. In fact, they have been evolving throughout their history, experimenting with new forms of organisation and structure. Today universities are under pressure to “marketise”: to adapt their services and structures to the expectations of the global education market through management optimization mechanisms. Management by audit is about simplification and optimisation of structures and forms. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic exposes the failure of contemporary management, not only that of health care services. “Entrepreneurial”, “lean”, and “dynamic” management models, which have been at the core of mainstream management for several decades now, are very cheap, but they only work in a stable or favourable environment. They are completely unsuitable for managing complex systems characterised by high uncertainty.

It is our duty to reflect on this extremely complex situation on the cusp of global change, which has no established vector yet. However, one element should be respected and appreciated, and that is the unique identity of the university and the academic profession. It is a harmful illusion that we will survive if we change into some other creation. We will only survive as a university. This calls for urgent and insightful reflection on possible and desirable models of governance.

Profile

Prof. Monika Kostera – professor of economics and humanities. She works as a professor of sociology at the University of Warsaw, and as a professor of management at the Institut Mines-Télécom Business School at the Université Paris-Saclay in France and at the University of Södertörn in Sweden. She was also employed as Professor and Chair in Management in Great Britain, including Durham University. She not only authors and publishes texts on organisational theory and ethnography, but also writes poetry. Currently, she is a co-editor of the scientific journal Gender, Work and Organization and has also co-edited several other journals, including the British Journal of Management. Her current research interests include organisational imagination, labour concepts, and organisational ethnography. She is a member of the Erbacce Poets’ Cooperative.

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