MONKEY BUSINESS: THE ACADEMIC WORLD
Universities are considered to be the places where the young are preparing in the best way to suit the societies’ needs, by acquiring the knowledge and practice for their own life and for the life of their countries. Moreover, Universities are considered as excellent research centres, able to provide further knowledge to the scientific/humanistic communities, and to transfer it progressively to students and markets.
For the above reasons, Universities are supposed to be driven by very high thought, and ruled through strong leadership, and lacks in results are considered as inadequate management.
But are the above statements true? Are we convinced that the University community is driven by such goals? Is the evaluation schema for individuals oriented to the proper behavior?
While arenas discussing about education usually present experiences, trends, theories and results, rarely a debate about the community and his organization arise.
In this paper the authors will analyze the actual situation of the Italian University, and in particular an analysis of their own environment: one of the most relevant, ancient, huge and appreciated University in Italy, in Milan.
The paper will present personal experiences carried on many decades long, in the following topics, with comments, observations, and personal positions:
- the anthropological macro-micro-organization of the communities in the university; values, behaviors and following goals; in particular, a prototypical structure is examined, whose relationships net can be considered paradigmatic overall the academic structures, at any level; such an analysis puts in evidence one dominant role, with a first unique co-player as right shoulder, a further level of submitted competitors, a further level of enslaved without any expectation of competition, and finally the pariahs (very young persons kept aside, waiting to enroll in some of these categories);
- such a structure determines: recruiting and careers (both the part carried on through competitive examinations, and the internal roles in performing tasks), distribution of educational tasks (in terms of prestige, quality and quantity), aggregation in research programmes, biasing in evaluation criteria (how and how much evaluate the different contribution in educational charge, research production, etc.);
- the same paradigmatic structure contributes to the creation of a specific “power” maps, never declared but publicly known, with alliance clusters, enemies each other, fighting for power (and finally for money); despite (or due to) a formally democratic decision-making by assemblies techniques, the observed organization is able to replicate the most aristocratic behaviors in relevant decision and choices;
- the role of the State in all of those processes is quite weak, being partially dominated by a similar scenario, and partially unable to define rules based on high level ethical though.
The paper will present deeply the analysis on the above topics, but without a solution: just some examples of successful actions despite the environment will be presented as “how to survive” tricks.
Despite the point of observation is Italy, author are convinced (by personal partial experiences in other foreign countries) that the phenomenon is widely present in any part of the world, and that a conscious responsibility and a common debate could contribute to improve the academic institutions.