PSE Should Exercise Caution When Importing Ideas From The Business World

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education via Academica

In an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mark Burstein, President of Wisconsin’s Lawrence University, examines the often unanticipated drawbacks of importing ideas from the business world to PSE. Burstein says that while business tools and strategies can help colleges and universities address a number of key challenges, it is critical to consider whether or not they truly improve student learning. He argues that campus leaders must be wary that business philosophies and concepts do not undermine institutions’ educational missions. Burstein says that in the US, many institutions have been forced to rely on business advice due to government regulation; this has contributed, he argues, to a growing compensation gap between front-line staff members and senior administration, with a negative impact on the academic community. Burstein also warns against treating students like customers. He says that the service industry’s mission is to delight its customers, but that PSE institutions should be prepared to challenge students in ways that are not always delightful. He further warns that some business models risk disenfranchising members of campus communities, undermining the learning environment. “If business concepts dominate our thinking about the future, we will have lost our way,” he concludes.