Management education under neoliberalism

Higher education institutions are sites for the production of a public good by creating politically conscious, critically engaged, and responsible citizens (Giroux, 2013). While higher education is a social technology of power and control that mediates and legitimates cultural capital (Bourdieu & Passerson, 1990), it can become a liberating moral and political practice that prepares students to interrogate their embeddedness in the world. Education thus serves as an instrument for democratic citizenship and social transformation (Freire, 1972; Giroux, 2002). In India, educational institutions have served as democratizing spaces through the implementation of reservations and as sites for the transformation of gender relations (Nair, 2016; Teltumbde, 2018).

Under neoliberalism, higher educational institutions are subjected to marketization, privatization and financialization, in order to deregulate the education sector in the name of economic efficiency, greater ‘freedoms’ and individual choice (Harvey, 2007). The neoliberal logic shifts attention from systemic political and economic problems to autonomous, rational individuals, responsibilized for their life ‘choices’ (Rose, 1990). Neoliberalization of higher education diminishes the capacity for humanistic values, critical thought and social and civic agency, rendering instead, enterprising consumer citizens, skilling themselves for corporations (Giroux, 2013). Knowledge is stripped of ethical and political considerations associated with participation in the public sphere and instead morphs into a form of financial capital for investment in the market economy (Giroux, 2002). Moreover, the language of tuition debt shapes career choices and world views, as students are prematurely conscripted into the marketplace, and freedom is reduced to a freedom to consume and invest. In this University as a transnational corporation, academic disciplines gain status based on their exchange value in the global market, with subordination of learning to market diktats (Giroux, 2002; Nussbaum, 2016). Academic labor is driven by managerial imperatives of efficiency, comparability, and standardization, measured through global journal rankings and accreditation processes (Parker, 2014). Rendered particularly precarious in this knowledge economy, are contractualized academic workers and doctoral students (Gupta and Nair, 2019; Jagannanathan and Packirisamy, 2019). Business schools in particular become a sacred site for the production and reproduction of neoliberal orthodoxy, erasing critical thought and social concerns (Fotaki and Prasad, 2015; Varman, Saha and Skalen 2011; Vijay and Varman, 2018).

More recently, studies have investigated the Hindutva-neoliberal ideology link (Chacko, 2019; Gopalakrishnan, 2006; Williams, 2016), with higher educational institutions becoming political flashpoints. The state has steadily retreated from funding of higher education, increased fees in public institutions and under the rhetoric of sedition and anti-nationalism, sought to sanitize educational institutions of political activity (Williams, 2016). Importantly, these forces have not been uncontested. Academic writing on these issues in today’s political milieu is an act of resistance, an act of writing for change. Most saliently, in the last few months in India, students have claimed and re-claimed university spaces to protest against recent legislations, often despite brutalities by the police and organized political factions (Sen, 2020; Sharma, 2019).  

It is in this context that this track encourages new empirical and conceptual perspectives on the marketization, corporatization and financialization of higher education. We invite papers from diverse methodological and disciplinary perspectives engaged with (but not limited to) the following illustrative themes and questions:

  • Inquiries into logics, values, practices of neoliberal higher education. How does neoliberalism shape the future of the university?
  • How does marketization of higher education shape student subjectivities? How does it influence academic research?
  • In higher education, how are prevailing inequalities along vectors of gender, caste, ethnicity, religion and class transformed (mitigated, amplified, morphed) as they intersect with neoliberal forces?
  • Relationship between fundamentalist forces and neoliberal ideology in higher educational institutions.
  • How do we decolonize higher education? What are the different sites and spaces of decolonization in higher education? What are the limits placed on decolonization in contemporary neoliberal educational institutions?
  • Critical reflections on alternative pedagogies.
  • Studies of students’ resistance within higher educational institutions against tuition fees, state policies, colonial pedagogies, gender, caste or class relations. How do we resist through our academic writing?
Queries related to this track may be addressed to Professor Devi Vijay:


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Chacko, P. (2019). Marketizing Hindutva: The state, society, and markets in Hindu nationalism. Modern Asian Studies, 53(2), 377-410.

Fotaki, M., & Prasad, A. (2015). Questioning neoliberal capitalism and economic inequality in business schools. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14(4), 556-575.

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Giroux, H. A. (2013). America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth: Reform beyond Electoral Politics. New York: NYU Press.

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Gupta, P., & Nair, V. G. (2019). From “research in management” to “management of research”: Changing nature of doctoral programme at Indian management schools. Decision, 46(2), 169-175.

Jagannathan, S., & Packirisamy, P. (2019). Love in the midst of precariousness: Lamenting the trappings of labour in de-intellectualized worlds. Decision, 46(2), 139-150.

Harvey, D. (2007). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nair, J. (2017). The Provocations of the Public University. Economic & Political Weekly, 52(37), 34-41.

Nussbaum, M. C. (2016). Not for Profit: Why Democracy needs the Humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Parker, M. (2014). University, Ltd: Changing a business school. Organization, 21(2), 281-292.

Rose, N. 1990. Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self. London: Routledge.

Sen, J. (6th January 2020). ‘They Were Banging the Door With an Iron Rack’: Students, Teachers Describe JNU Violence. Accessed on 25th January 2020. Retrieved from 

Sharma, B. (12th December 2019). Widespread Protests Against BJP's Communal CitizenshipAmendment Bill. Huffington Post. Accessed on 25th January 2020. Retrieved from

Teltumbde, A. (2018). Republic of Caste: Thinking Equality in the Time of Neoliberal Hindutva. New Delhi: Navayana.

Varman, R., Saha, B., & Skålén, P. (2011). Market subjectivity and neoliberal governmentality in higher education. Journal of Marketing Management, 27(11-12), 1163-1185.

Vijay, D., & Varman, R. (Eds.). (2018). Alternative Organisations in India: Undoing Boundaries. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, T. (2016). Higher education is not ‘for sale’: Thought as sedition in a neoliberal nationalist paradigm. South Asian History and Culture, 7(3), 319-321.

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