and Educational Values
A dictionary definition of bureaucracy is Government
marked by diffusion of authority among numerous offices, and
adherence to inflexible rules of operation; any unwieldy administration.
There can be little argument that state university administrations
every bureaucracy are forces to maintain, protect, and expand
the system. This hidden agenda exerts pressure on educational
matters at many levels. It is difficult to do anything expeditiously;
everything must go through channels. Any question not covered
by policy must be approved by a higher office. There is little
flexibility or divergence from established policies and procedures.
Suggestions of deviation or change are regarded as challenges
to the system. Individuals that consistently question or challenge
the system are identified and treated as troublemakers. There
is an undercurrent of administrative paternalism directed
toward faculty. Administrators are prone to believe that faculty
are often irresponsible or incapable of handling funds, and
that they do not understand the overall needs of the university.
The system is more important than any one person, and the
sacrifice of individuals or programs are justified for reasons
perceived to be in the best interests of the institution.
deals with quantitative measurements more easily than qualitative
judgments. Criteria for qualitative evaluation are often intangible
and, as a basis for decision-making, tend to make administrators
uncomfortable as they are more difficult to justify. In evaluating
or making decisions regarding individuals, programs and services,
administrators are more likely to rely on statistics as a
basis for determining value. Bureaucracy is self-serving and
apt to solve problems by adding more administrative offices;
reducing or eliminating administrative functions is less likely
to occur. Bureaucracy exerts control, and values a smooth
operation based on loyalty and adherence to a given set of
policies and procedures.
and students are prone to resist all forms of rigidity; they
want flexibility and place a high value on individuality.
It is characteristic of faculty and students to challenge
and question authority. Faculty and students seek resolution
of problems on the basis of feasible circumstances, believing
that being managed by broad general policies and procedures
is often arbitrary and unfair. They do not hesitate to place
individual rights above the interests of the institution.
and student values are often contrary and disruptive to a
smooth managerial operation. The clash of values between persons
responsible for operation and those involved with instruction
is a constant irritant which cannot be eliminated. To administrators,
the working relationship with individual teachers is more
important than their effectiveness in the classroom or studio.
This is convincingly demonstrated by the alacrity with which
administrators move against any faculty member who continually
questions administrative practices or policies regardless
of the teacher's contribution to educational quality.
Cheney, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities,
recently issued the report, Tyrannical Machines; A Report
on Educational Practices Gone Wrong and Our Best Hopes for
Setting Them Right. Both the title and prefacing quote
are attributed to William James, American philosopher. The
1903 quote is as follows:
institutionalizing on a large scale of any natural combination
of need and motive always tends to run into technicality and
to develop a tyrannical Machine with unforeseen powers of
exclusion and corruption.
quote refers to ways of doing things that are well justified
in the beginning, but when established widely become tyrannical
machines. To quote further from the report, Practices
that begin by filling needs become detached from their original
purposes, even counterproductive to them. Having been adopted
on a large scale, however, these practices take on a power
of their own. Of the numerous forms this tyranny may take
within the educational context, bureaucratic administration
is the most pervasive.
Bureaucracy is not inherently bad in itself. Sound management,
even if bureaucratic, is required for the operation of an
educational institution. The dilemma is maintaining balance
between operation and education . After several
years studying academic organization and collecting my own
observations from experience, the essence of my understanding
of educational institutions can be best summed up in a conundrum,
In order to fulfill its educational mission, the university
must first survive. However, the only justification for survival
lies in the institution's ability to educate. Cheney reached
a similar conclusion which was stated as follows, Unsuccessful
schools that no one wants to attend will either reform themselves
or be forced to close. Schools in the private sector that
cannot raise operating capital because of ineffective educational
programs will disappear. However, state universities, no matter
how poorly they perform, will continue because of public funding.
This is a serious qualitative problem. Its effects are even
more critical because of the numbers of students now being
public universities because of higher educational costs in
the private sector.