THE MARKETING of EDUCATION IN A COORDINATED DECENTRALISED
CONTEXT: ALFRED P. SLOAN REVISITED

Year: 1992

Author: WATKINS, PETER. E.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
A number of recent publications by the Business Council of Australia (Loton 1991, BCA 1991) have strongly advocated that education should follow the recent organisational trends which are evident in the business world. These are that operational units should be decentralised but still firmly controlled by a central coordinating policy and planning structure. In turn the operational units would compete for a share of the market. While it may be argued (Codd 1993) that there is a fundamental conflict between the trend in education towards greater local entrepreneurial decision-making and the trend towards stronger mechanisms of accountability and centralised control, this paper suggests that this may not be the case. Indeed, if there are any contradictions in centralised decentralisation, these were long ago addressed and seemingly dispelled in the management philosophy that Alfred P. Sloan brought to the restructuring of the General Motors Corporation in the 1920s. Consequently, any critique of the move towards the setting up of networks of self- managing schools marketing themselves within a centralised framework would be well advised to examine the formation of the management philosophy on which the administration of General Motors is based. In examining the trend to consumerism in education Ball (1990) has tried to analyse it through the work of the economist Hayeck. Kenway (1992), following a different path, has contemplated the links between the creation of educational markets and Post-Modernism. This paper, however, returns to the point of production, linking the creation of markets and the consumer to the scientific managerial innovations of Taylor and Sloan at the General Motors Corporation.

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