Local interpretation of global management discourses in higher education in Hong Kong: potential impact on academic culture
Abstract In this paper the colonial history of university education in Hong Kong, and recent changes in the governance of university education driven by global management discourses are discussed. With the systemic penetration of global economic rationalism, Hong Kong university education has gone through structural changes that include funding-linked evaluative policies and practices. Market imperatives and institutionally defined notions of research performance based mainly on English-language, overseas journal publications are exerting strong influence on the cultural practices and life styles of academics and stand to significantly change academic and intellectual culture in higher education in Hong Kong. The long-term consequences of these local interpretations and adaptations of global processes will be discussed in terms of their potential impact on academic freedom, the shaping of intellectual space, the intensification of competitive institutional research output, and the risk of privileging certain forms of knowledge production that puts aside local societal needs, indigenous knowledge and epistemologies. The views of experienced Hong Kong academics in the humanities and social sciences, as expressed in in-depth individual interviews, are also discussed. These are then interpreted with reference to Habermas' notion of different kinds of knowledge-constitutive interests (Habermas 1971) and Foucault's notion of the technology of discipline power to uncover the state's implicit transformation and shaping of the social and epistemological bases of academic and intellectual pursuits and the increasing trend of individualization of intellectual communities into isolated, individualistic, competitive knowledge workers (Foucault 1977).
Keywords: knowledge workers; knowledge production; English-medium education; English language dominance; globalization and higher education; academic freedom
Angel Lin received her PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada in 1996. She has since led a productive teaching and research career in areas of sociocultural theories of language education, new media communication studies, youth cultural and feminist media studies, critical discourse analysis, and language-in-education policy and practice in postcolonial contexts. Her recent publications include Bilingual Education: Southeast Asian Perspectives (co-authored with E.Y.F. Man, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2009); and Classroom Interactions as Cross-cultural Encounters: Native Speakers in EFL Lessons. (co-authored with J.C.M. Luk, Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006).