Lessons from everywhere: furniture factories & universities

Oct 28 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

Lance Manion has an interesting blog post titled "They don't care, they just don't care". Its from a book called "Factory Man" about a man who invested in his American furniture store, rather than outsourcing to China. Manion says:

That Taiwanese factory owner seems baffled by American factory owners’ willingness to tear apart their own businesses and tear down their own factories. The only explanation he can come up with for such self-destructiveness  is that his American counterparts don’t know what they’re doing because they’re “naive” or they don’t see what they’re doing because all they can see is the money they stand to make.

What doesn’t occur to him is that the Americans don’t care.

They tear their own companies into pieces. They tear down their own factories. They tear apart whole towns, entire counties that depend on those industries for their economic survival. They tear apart families. They tear apart lives.

And they just don’t care.

This is not much different than American universities. The administration (its hard to call them leaders) wants to be profitable, despite being non-profits. Instead of tearing about towns, they are tearing down disciplines. They can't see what college level sports has become - an industry with nothing to do with education or scholarship. It has fostered a party culture that has less to do with any college's goals and missions and more to do with a late-adolescent desire to chase pleasure at the expense of anything else. They don't care about what is happening to universities, despite their pious claims to the contrary. Manion again:

They don’t see what they’re doing because all they can see is the money they stand to make.

It's easy to critique someone else's goals or desires when they don't align with yours. But the academic situation is more straightforward: there are stated goals and missions that do not align with reality except in admin-speak.  It's not that too many kids go to college; its that college isn't doing what it needs to for those kids.


One response so far

  • mytchondria says:

    Nice post. I really love reading business books and seeing how we pathologically fail to see patterns in the business of science.

    Also, what exactly do you mean 'the late adolescent desire to chase pleasure'? Cuz um.....I still have that!

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