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Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Education

Business Language


The language of school reform borrowed heavily from business management literature (see table below).


For example the Minister for Education in Ontario, John Snobelen, described “his vision” for Ontario’s schools in 1995 in terms of “clients”, “customers” and “front-line service providers” (teachers) who would be “customer and client-focused”. Such language was also taken up by the Australian media:


Allan White is the general manager of a $4.5 million business with 1000 teenage clients all wanting to buy a bright future. In short he runs a high school… [which] boasts a management team, which includes the executive officer (principal), and line managers (two assistant principals and a pivotal business manager).

Table: The New Language of School Reform

Bureaucratic professionalism New managerialism
Public service ethos Customer-oriented ethos
Driven by commitment to professional standards and values such as equity Driven by efficiency, cost effectiveness and competitive advantage
Cooperation Competition
Managers with educational backgrounds Managers trained in economics, business management
Focus on inputs, control of processes, teacher qualifications, qualitative outcomes Focus on goals, measurable results
Consequences for poor results – accountability
Schools Educational Enterprises







Workers/producers/classroom managers/service providers

Source: adapted from G. Whitty, S. Power, and D. Halpin, Devolution and Choice in Education: The School, the State and the Market, Melbourne, Australian Council for Educational Research, 1998, p. 54.
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