Irreconcilable Differences: The Corporatization of Canadian Universities

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. Download adobe Acrobat or click here to download the PDF file.

Click here to download the PDF file.


Brownlee, Jamie Kyle




To date, there has yet to be a comprehensive national study of university corporatization in Canada. This study addresses this gap by reviewing the empirical basis, history, root causes and evolution of the transformation of higher education in Canada that has taken place over the past four decades. In this research, “corporatization” is used to refer to the process and resulting outcomes of the ascendance of business interests, values and models in the university system. Throughout the study, my two primary questions of interest are: (i) how has the corporatization of Canadian universities
taken shape?; and (ii) what are the consequences of this restructuring both for higher education and society at large? The study begins with a brief historical review of the relationship between education and various sources of power, as well as some of the competing perspectives that have been used to explain university restructuring. I then review the main manifestations of the corporatization process, beginning with a detailed analysis of the casualization of academic labour. Drawing on a new and unique dataset collected through access to information requests, I provide a detailed account
of the rise in the number of part-time and full-time contractually limited appointments in a number of Ontario institutions and discuss some of the impacts of this change. Subsequent chapters focus on the changing role of students (as consumers) in corporatized university spaces as well as changes in tuition and debt rates in Canada; how corporate management styles and practices have infiltrated university governance and programmatic and curriculum decisions; and the impact of corporate and commercial influences on academic research. Taken together, this evidence demonstrates that many of the
defining characteristics of the public university are currently under threat, particularly its systems of governance, academic freedom, and its approach to teaching and research. Moreover, I argue that there are irreconcilable differences between university and corporate institutions. The study concludes with a discussion of the fact that acts of resistance need to go beyond calling for new regulations within the current environment and seek more radical measures, given the fundamental incompatibility between these types of institutions.


Education - Higher




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 


Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

Items in CURVE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. They are made available with permission from the author(s).