ESEP 13:141-153 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00137

New managerialism, neoliberalism and ranking

Kathleen Lynch

Equality Studies Centre, School of Social Justice, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This paper analyses the ranking of universities within the socio-political context of neoliberalism and the organisational context of new managerialism. It examines the forces that have facilitated the emergence of the ranking industry and the ideologies underpinning the so‑called ‘global’ university rankings. What the paper shows is that rankings are a politically inspired mode of governance; they are designed to ensure that universities are regulated and controlled in accordance with market values. The seemingly objective character of rankings, in particular the use of numbers, creates an impression that what is of value in education can be simply counted, hierarchically ordered and uncontrovertibly judged. The simplicity and accessibility of rankings deflects attention from their political and moral purposes. Rankings are reconstituting the academy, for both academics and students; they are a new mode of external governance through which market values are reframing the social relations of education. They have altered the cognitive and moral frames through which university education is being appraised. The paper calls for a debate on the public interest objectives of universities in the context of growing market regulation.


KEY WORDS: New managerialism · Neoliberalism · Public Interests · Markets · Ideological tool · Culture · Measurement


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Cite this article as: Lynch K (2014) New managerialism, neoliberalism and ranking. Ethics Sci Environ Polit 13:141-153. https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00137

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