Academic Capitalism, Organizational Change, and Student Workers: A Case Study of an Organized Research Unit in a Public Research University [electronic resource]
Abstract (Summary)This multi-layered case study examines the evolution and operations of one long-lived organized research unit (ORU), the Office of Arid Lands Studies (OALS), at the University of Arizona (UA). The first part includes a history of arid lands research at the UA and the beginning of OALS, a review of the Office's extramural and internal funding since 1964, and a comparison of that data and other performance indicators with other ORUs and, to some extent, with departments. The results are examined in relation to U.S. science policy and the theory of academic capitalism. The second part explores the causes of OALS' 1981 administrative move from the Vice President for Research Office to the College of Agriculture in the context of the University's multiple cultures and institutional and resource dependence theories of organizational change. The final part considers the influence of student workers on faculty supervisors who work as technicians in an OALS lab, and the role of funding agencies in the lab's operations. Theories of power and technology in the workplace provide a frame for the discussion. Findings suggest the placement of this ORU in a college has been beneficial in clarifying research turf, minimizing conflicts, supporting instruction, and in terms of funding. OALS' extramural support has averaged more than four dollars to every one dollar received internally, and OALS faculty compare favorably with other faculty in numbers of publications, and to a certain extent with teaching and advising. While the OALS remote sensing lab does utilize students as sources of cheap labor, the students do have considerable influence over how the lab operates. The only areas of conflict occurred over linking thesis topics to research projects and in meeting funding agency deadlines.
School:The University of Arizona
School Location:USA - Arizona
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication: