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02 August 2013

The Ivory Tower and Sears Tower

Recently, Paul Krugman wrote a blog post on Sears' internal competition organizational model, which essentially makes divisions within a firm compete for resources in the same way that externally firms compete with other firms. The outcome, as anyone who doesn't worship the almighty market might guess, is disastrous for the firm. It occurs to me, though, that higher ed is increasingly taking the same internal competition organizational approach, pitting academic colleges and departments against each other in a battle for shrinking resources. As The Krug points out, this model forgets that firms, be they corporations or colleges, are a collections of subunits with a common interest, respectively selling tools and educating students. A liberal arts education necessitates a broad experience of several disciplines and perspectives, somethings that cannot be sustained if the sociology program cannot corral the same number of majors as the business school.

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