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Corporations' Invisible Hand in Higher Education: Teaching at Business Schools and the Making of Employable Students.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4725-8757
2023 (Swedish)In: Universities Under Neoliberalism: Ideologies, Discourses, and Management Practices / [ed] Mats Benner; Mikael Holmqvist, Routledge, 2023, p. 49-67Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A critical notion in contemporary neoliberal society is “employability”, i.e., the set of skills, competencies and abilities that make an individual able to compete successfully on national and international labour markets. As is well-known, one of the most important instruments for creating employable persons is higher education, i.e. education offered by universities and similar academic institutions. Universities have for long time been expected to be “relevant” by making students well adapted to societal demands and requirements; in other words, producing “employable students” has always been a critical mission, not only in the narrow, vocational sense but also in the behavioural and aesthetic meaning of the word. As a testimony to this, modern universities have gradually embraced a corporate model for managing its operations, for instance, by implementing “performance management” indicators for evaluating faculty, and by offering students courses that stress the development of social rather than intellectual abilities that are said to be critical for their employability. The corporate ethos that has come to define society more and more has also come to colonize the university world. The market-liberal development of universities can most vividly be seen in the exceptional growth of management education offered by universities or independent business schools, where tomorrow's corporate elites are being educated and trained. In many ways, business schools have come to dominate higher education, not only in terms of the number of students being graduated but also ideologically: business schools seem to offer a version of higher education that is relevant for today's demands and can in this respect be seen as “model institutions”. As a result, the ways business students are constructed and socialized therefore constitute an interesting area of examination. In this chapter, the author critically examines how students at Sweden's premier business school, the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), are made employable for elite jobs in Swedish and international industry. The SSE is Sweden's only private university and is sometimes described as a model institution for how all higher education should be conducted in the country. Relative to other universities in Sweden, the SSE is a “free” institution, without any strong formal bonds to the state, which is said to promote an ability to swiftly adapt to circumstances and offer their students a “timely” education, resulting in a high degree of competitiveness. Indeed, the SSE has close connections to the corporate world that offers the institution guidance in how to promote student employability, and can boost excellent records in making their students attractive to elite employers, even in the public sector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2023. p. 49-67
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Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-220822DOI: 10.4324/9781003246367-4ISBN: 9781032159294 (print)ISBN: 9781003246367 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-220822DiVA, id: diva2:1796239
Available from: 2023-09-12 Created: 2023-09-12 Last updated: 2023-09-18Bibliographically approved

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