Producing “What the Deans Know”: Cost Accounting and the Restructuring of Post-Secondary Education"

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Abstract

This article uses institutional ethnography to investigate how accounting texts mediate the reshaping of managerial practice in the educational sector. The community college system in Ontario is currently undergoing an extensive process of restructuring. Operating grants have been reduced; government spending policies increasingly pull colleges into market relations. In this context, college administrators are working to develop new ways of "doing business." Integral to this are accounting procedures that play a powerful role in organizational restructuring by creating new patterns of organizational visibility. One such, program costing, calculates the profitability rate of an academic department's various program offerings. As deans, department chairpersons, faculty and union representatives orient to this new visibility, the changes they introduce into their work routines bring market relevances into the local sites of college activity.

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