flowing motion

Universities: parties and yawns or surprisingly vigorous enterprisess

Posted on: April 14, 2010

What was your uni like?

Parties with casual yet dictatorial professors?

Most of us go to university and college and find something that looks like a lawless, unruly form of school where the lecturers and professors are the biggest outlaws.  And so we go out into the world thinking of universities as schools with no business-imperative and no business-sense.

The business of universities

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Universities are businesses, or enterprises; but with a business model  that is so opaque, few people understand it, unless they have worked in one for quite a while.   If you do business with universities, if you are in a knowledge business, if you have to hire graduates to get work done, you might like to read this brilliant description of university business models.

As greedy as bacteria

“As organisms in a system, universities evolve. They eat up smaller institutions to dominate a niche, or split of side campuses to enter new spaces. They relentlessly share their DNA, as Universities heads look over their shoulders and shamelessly copy the innovations of others. Universities fight for resources, funding, students among themselves, where a Society usually co-opts all of the resources in it’s zone of control and operates without competitive challenge.”

As disregarding as dinosaurs

“Make no mistake, Universities are dinosaurs. They can crush you, outrun you and outbreed you. They dominate their ecosystem to the exclusions of all others, existing in astonishing diversity, and repeatedly adapting to environmental change. What it took to get rid of the dinosaurs wiped out almost everything else as well. The same is true here. If Universities become non viable institutions, then their collapse will be the least of our worries.”

As mutative as viruses

“Universities are not going to go gently into the night. They won’t wave their hands in the air, cry that it’s all to complicated (or was it complex?) and shut their doors. Some will no doubt go under, but most will adapt and survive, ruthlessly ripping out the DNA from models that work and re-engineering themselves for Internet Age. They will do it in University Time, not Internet time, but they have enough inertia for that not to matter. In fact, a slower response to change will insulate them from short timescale fads (Would you wish you had bet the farm on CD-ROMS? WAP?).”
Brilliant description of the strategic model of universities.  But who would know when you are yawning your way through another lecture?
FOR THE FULL POST:  Tertiary21
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