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Why is the business school system in perpetual crisis? Explaining the legitimacy paradox

Aldridge, Jacqueline (2023) Why is the business school system in perpetual crisis? Explaining the legitimacy paradox. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100975) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:100975)

Language: English

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This thesis explores the paradox of the one-hundred-year legitimacy crisis of the Business School. Although it dominates global higher education, the business school system has always struggled to establish legitimacy with multiple stakeholders across multiple dimensions. Given its ostensible success, evidence for this crisis is found primarily in influential published sources. However, crisis narratives are polarised between advocating solutions to specific problems or challenging the Business School's existence. Few authors explore the complexities of the problems or their structural origins.

In this thesis, I address this gap by asking why the Business School is negated by the wider academic community, how its internal academic community frames the problems over time and how equivalent academic entities maintain their legitimacy.

I answer the first two questions through rhetorical analyses of textual corpora drawn from scholarly literatures. I use a critical realist framework to identify causal mechanisms that may explain the persistence of a multi-faceted legitimacy crisis. I then combine these findings with a range of theoretical perspectives from different fields to create a model of occupational higher education. This model identifies a number of pathways that the business school system could follow to establish and sustain legitimacy.

However, I conclude that stakeholders of the contemporary business school system may not have the appetite for the necessary structural change, given the likely systemic and personal consequences. I also suggest that scapegoating the Business School serves the interests of the wider academic workforce and may prove an insurmountable obstacle to Business School legitimacy building.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Parkinson, Thomas
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100975
Uncontrolled keywords: businessschool legitimacy
Divisions: Divisions > Directorate of Education > Centre for the Study of Higher Education
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2023 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 14:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Aldridge, Jacqueline.

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