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Workload Allocation Models in Academia: A Panopticon of Neoliberal Control or Tools for Resistance?

Ilaria Boncori, Davide Bizjak, Luigi Maria Sicca


Academic ‘labour’ within the Higher Education landscape is changing as universities are increasingly managed as business organisations. In the contemporary neoliberal academic context, departments and individuals are required to develop forms of accountability based on quantitative metrics regarding performance, budgets, human resource management and income generation. Drawing from Foucauldian theories of power, this article explores the contentious implementation of workload allocation models in the UK Higher Education sector not only as an illustration of a superimposed managerial tool of control but also as an instrument of resistance. This article suggests that in order to counteract the systematic failure of neoliberal academia at the individual and collective level, these performance management tools can be used as forms of empowerment and resistance. Further, it is recommended that these instruments are designed in a collaborative way to ensure fair and transparent allocations of tasks and responsibilities, and to avoid unmanageable workloads.


Resistance; workload allocation models; panopticon.

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