Blogs across the public sector reveal all kinds of futile fantasy in practice. Another set of revelation is to be found in miscarriages of justice. I think a lot of cops would be surprised at how much literature there is, and how much of what they are complaining about now has a long track record. I was a cop about 30 years back and much the same bungling and brutal managerial farce was present in the system then. I began university research and teaching over 20 years ago and the same problems are still being looked at now. Much regarded as complete turkey in the social and business research fields has actually got itself embedded in teaching and consultancy practice. “Excellence” is probably the classic, but there are many patent medicines around such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR). The names change, but the fabric remains the same. Most of the textbooks were really written in the 1950s, the ‘new’ versions merely plagiarised and ‘super-presented’. These are not theories that would work if only rotten managers were bright enough to understand them. They are dross not even understood by those teaching them.
The heart has been kicked out of teaching. We used to be concerned with developing people as people. Developing resourceful human beings if you like, not fodder for human resource management. It could take forever to explain this. I can only give a glimpse. Typically, students (customers – argh!) are judged on answers to questions like this:
“Compare and contrast process and content theories of motivation at work and critically evaluate one example of each type of theory against organisational performance criteria”.
You must be chomping at the bit to have a go! I’ve taught the stuff for more than 20 years and honestly can’t remember which theories are ‘content’ and which ‘process’ without a quick shufty at ‘chapter three’ in one of the very dull books we try to get students to buy or get out of the library. Copying such a chapter, taking a few precautions not to make the copying too obvious (which I will have taught in those classes on Thursday mornings after your late nights in ‘Swiggies’), will achieve a fair pass, if you get the presentation right. With me, you might just pull a first with a polite version of the following:
“This question is bollocks and has nothing to do with motivation at work, for these reasons”. This might well be the path to failure with lecturers with no work experience other than reading standard texts and promoting them through ‘death by Powerpoint’ as a fledgling, fundamentalist vicar might use the Bible. It is this approach, jived up with ‘Alpha Course’ enthusiasm and lesson planning (the publishers of the expensive textbooks actually do all this for you), that is now mainstream, including indoctrination into American pop-psychology for the lecturers, blatted out as ‘learning theory’ (which it ain’t). You can teach anything (and nothing of value) using this method, which essentially requires of the teacher nothing other than control of the “answers”. Many extremely experienced and good managers cannot answer such questions because they have already learned in practice that the material you are using is no good, other than to write up essays with for some dullard like you with temporary power over what constitutes ‘learning content’.
This all amounts to something like teaching people to sing hymns.