Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Mimi Abramovitz

Committee Members

Vicki Lens

Daniel Herman

Subject Categories

Education | Higher Education | Organization Development | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


neoliberalism, managerialism, higher education, social work education, social work faculty, social work


Neoliberal policies have led to the installation of managerialism, or the application of business practices and principles in institutions of higher education. Although much is known about the impact of managerialism on faculty in the overall academy, very little is known about its impact in specific disciplines, particularly in the United States. Using semi-structured interviews, this dissertation investigates how social work faculty experience and negotiate managerialism in the traditional pillars of teaching, service, and scholarship.

This study found that managerialism leads universities to place new and increased demands for productivity, efficiency, and accountability on social work faculty. Respondents report major changes. Tenure track faculty are required to teach less, so they have more time for more highly valued research. They experience pressure to reshape, and often narrow, their research agenda to secure funding and produce high impact scholarship. Increasingly centralized university administrations make more decisions, which serves to diminish the role of faculty in governance. Managerialist pressures fall especially hard on faculty of color, who often take on additional responsibilities to support students of color and initiatives for diversity and inclusion. The pressure for greater productivity, efficiency, and accountability gives rise to a standardization of work that deemphasizes social justice and contributes to mission drift. Faculty respond to these shifts in a variety of ways, including adjusting to meet the demands or strategically choosing positions in schools with less pressure.