Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
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Brave new reductionism : TQM as ethnocentrism / Dion Dennis.
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1 of 19 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 3 Number 9May 3, 1995ISSN 1068-2341A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal. Editor: Gene V Glass,Glass@ASU.EDU. College of Educ ation, Arizona State University,Tempe AZ 85287-2411 Copyright 1995, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES.Permission is hereby granted to copy any a rticle provided that EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES is credited and copies are not sold.Brave New Reductionism: TQM as Ethnocentrism Dion Dennis Department of Criminal Justice, History and Politic al Science Texas A & M International University diond@igc.apc.orgAbstract: At century's end, practices at institutions of hig her education are regularly subjected to a numbing array of stresses. Under the umbrella of fi scal austerity, intensified regimes of surveillance, in the form of corporatist management philosophies such as Total Quality Management (TQM), have been widely imposed. TQM pro ponents now advocate the total managementof human thought and identity. In a blata ntly econometric and ethnocentric discourse where human variability is a "virus" to be "elimina ted" under a war metaphor, nothing less than the future of independent intellectual work is at s take. This essay primarily explores how the theoretical roots and contemporary tropes of TQM sh ape a range of TQM-effects. INTRODUCTION The results are still unfolding and contestable bu t the trend has become increasingly clear. Total Quality Management (TQM) and its siblings, su ch as Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), have become the means by which public instit utions of higher education have been reinscribed within a late 20th Century version of m arket logics. Facing a troubling nexus of rising costs, reduced federal and state funding, stagnant enrollment pools, a generalized sense that graduates of public institutions are only marginall y competent and the popular political sentiment that the descendants of New-Deal era governmental a gencies and programs are "part of the problem (of economic decline), not the solution," a dministrators have been susceptible to the


2 of 19sizable financial and public relations inducements offered by transnational corporations (TNCs). That is, administrators and some teachers unions, s uch the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), are responding to the fiercely contested pol itics of education. They are tactically responding to recurrent proposals that call for pla cing schools in the marketplace, via tax credits or vouchers. With cause, administrators and union o fficials believe that implementing voucher systems will reduce, fundamentally reshape or perma nently dismantle public sector education forever (Mandel, Melcher, Yang & McNamee, 1995). Se en in this light, the energetic adoption of corporatist public relations and administrative pra ctices is a defensive tactic meant to counter a perceived threat. It is a tactic in a strategy desi gned to retain a much modified modicum of control of resources by retrenching educational bur eaucracies. By adopting the "walk and talk" of TNC practices and ideologies, administrators hope t o reduce pressures to formally privatize schools. That is, if the public schools look and so und like a corporation and if they produce graduates that conform to TNC expectations (skilled mobile, docile and interchangeable), then political and market pressures to dismantle these b ureaucracies will be eased. In sum, this paper assumes that the adoption of TQM is a near-term def ensive, even survivalist, counterstrategy intended to preserve public sector education. But t he institutional effects of TQM-like regimes probably signal a longterm period of institutiona l austerity (Mandel et al., 1995). This period is already marked by intensified regimes of security, predominantly implemented to support the proprietary short-term interests of the many applie d R&D programs of the TNCs. The often unhappy results of these shifts are already palpabl e. That is, many administrative and academic environments have become increasingly hostile to in dependent intellectual thought. Under the new corporatism, expressions of responsive and resp onsible dissent are increasingly stigmatized. And for an economy and society that is often descri bed as knowledge or informationdriven, such anxious neo-Darwinian atmospherics may well co ntribute to a precipitous decline in the formation of new knowledges and discourses (Aronowi tz & DiFazio, 1994). Taken as symptom, TQM in education is but part of a chain of contemporary global events where the diversity of human culture, history, iden tity and morality are rigorously reinscribed as but mere subsets of a timeless, universalizing mark et logic. In its specific nexus of rhetoric and practice, TQM is often overcoded with the crudest f orms of crypto-positivism embodied by the uncritical use of histograms, flow diagrams and Par eto charts. Mix these tendencies with a ritualistic fetish for linear, cookbook-like formul as and the result is a classic case of technocratic performativity. For TQM typifies the corporatist (a nd bureaucratic) turn that takes what are essentially political or moral issues and reinscrib es them as technical, administrative or practical concerns (Jackall, 1988). In a larger sense, TQM embodies a series of tactic al moves meant to effectively discipline a population engaged in a permanent economic state of war (Tribus, 1989). The very call for "totalizing management" is most fully consistent wi th the imperatives of war. TQM, then, is a war analogue war economic, war cultural, war poli tical and war transcorporate (. In sum, TQM is an aggregate of techniques that normalize, modul ate, model and work to totalize and render transparent fields of language, identity, perceptio n and human relations. It is deployed, as all totalizing discourses are, to absorb and homogenize dissent and difference. [TQM acoytles call this "acknowledging resistance" or "driving out fea r" (Dennis, 1993).] With an increasing frequency across public institutions of education, one must speak in the pseudo-language of "global competitiveness" and chatter on about Paret o charts and the evils of "variability" while describing all human identities in terms of "intern al or external customers." And if you do not speak this language, often you will not be heard at all. As such, TQM signals the birth of a new ethnocentrism -the ethnocentrism of an emerging t ransnational managerial class. Fortunately for those of us who study TQM, there h as been a burgeoning river of TQM-inspired bureaucratic propaganda over the last six years (1989-1995). What follows below are textual analyses that draw out some of the gove rning assumptions of TQM. These


3 of 19taken-for-granted axiomatics, coded into TQM discou rse, exceed mere facial readings of often facile TQM texts. That is, what follows are analyse s of how organizing tropes and theoretical assumptions within TQM representational formats pro duce the realms of the sayable and unsayable, the seeable and unseeable and the thinka ble and unthinkable. To recognize how a stable of tropes and motifs produce such zones is t he first step in evaluating how these ensembles are reshaping academe. It becomes possible to weigh not merely what is spoken, seen or thought, but how these zones of representation have been fas hioned. And this allows us also to assess the range of actual or potential dangers presented by r egimes of TQM. The sections below delineate some of the key organizing rhetorical tropes and te chnocratic motifs. PERFORMATIVITY The term performativity refers to management modal ities that regard continuous refinement of maximal input/output flows as a termi nal end in itself. Absent from performative analyses are critiques of whether a particular proc ess or end is even desirable. This fetishization of abstract technique, divorced from social and pol itical reality, is a common theme on the LISTSERV TQM-L. For example, consider the following post (which has been edited for presentation in this essay):___________________________________________________ ______________ Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1993 08:31:57 -0400 Reply-To: Total Quality Management In Higher Ed ucation Sender: Total Quality Management In Higher Ed ucation From: Walter Olson Subject: Re: Juran #9 To: Multiple recipients of list TQM-L In my original outline, I had entitled this sect ion "Evaluate the systems." Now that we have reached this section, I don't know what I meant when I wrote the outline. At this p oint, Juran tends to repeat previous lessons. Evaluation should be a continuous process but certainly, now is a good time to do it. Since measures have been developed, the porcesses (sic ) operating, do it. If there is any point that is made . it is that the drive for quality requires training . In summary, The Juran flow for quality can be ex pressed as /-------------------------\ | Establish quality goals | \-------------------------/ | | /-------------------------\ | Identify your customers | \-------------------------/ | | /-------------------------\ | Determine customer needs| \-------------------------/ | | /-------------------------\ | Determine measures | \-------------------------/ | | /-------------------------\


4 of 19 | Develop product/service | \-------------------------/ | | /-------------------------\ | Develop processes | \-------------------------/ | | /-------------------------\ |Control/Optimize Process | \-------------------------/ While this does not show any feedback, this is a continuous process repeat ad infinitum.___________________________________________________ ______________Or consider this second post to TQM-L, a week earli er (10/1/93):___________________________________________________ ______________ From: (Timothy H.Ricordati) Subject: TQM principles used to plan and teach a class. David, we at Keller Graduate School of Managemen t use the TQM principle of continuous improvement process to i mprove teaching and learning in individual classes serving adult graduate-level students. We apply the Shewhart Cycle (Plan-Do-C heck-Act) to our instructional process by: 1) establishing very specific course objectives (plan), 2) having our instructors tea ch to those objectives (do), 3) assess the learning of the s tudents and the effectiveness of the instruction (sic) (check), and 4) use the data on the outcomes assessment to improve the p rocess (act). The field of education (sic) is similar to the f ield of business. We in education supply a service (education), st art with a raw material (students), apply a process (teaching), and turn-out a finished product (graduates). Schools must beco me more customer-driven, as business is. Timothy Ricordati Keller Graduate School of Management Chicago, IL___________________________________________________ ______________ These two posts illustrate a prominent strand of T QM discourse. Whether it is Olson's passion for the "Juran flow of Quality" or Ricordat i's reduction of pedagogy and academic freedom to the Shewhart Cycle (plan-do-check-act ak a PDCA), the means by which information and authority flow are the object for detailed cybe rnetic regimes. And the evocation of a cryptic signifier, "Quality," is the rationale used to legi timate the imposition of these regimes of detail (See Note One) (Dobyns, 1994). According to Lyotard the diffusion of digital technology and expertise that began early in the post-WWII period has made the optimal technical means of exercising power more important than the ends. Whet her something is worth doing becomes less important than doing something (almost anything) we ll: Technical devices . follow the principle of opt imal performance: maximizing output (the information modifications obtained) and minimizing input (the energy expended in the process . Technology is not a g ame pertaining to the true, the just or the beautiful . but to efficiency: a technic al "move" is "good" when it does better and/or expends less energy than another (Lyo tard, 1984).


5 of 19 Lyotard goes on to say that the aim in such a syst em is not truth but performativity, which is the best possible input/output equation. Within such systems, there is only one possible goal power. Simply put, power is good performativity (Ly otard, 1984). Defining "the good" exercise of power as efficienc y tends to remove the practice and administration of education from moral and politica l debate. Under the sign of TQM, education increasingly becomes a zone dominated by management expertise. These "experts" are a bevy of recycled consultants who enthusiastically wield Par eto diagrams, flow charts and histograms. For them, the key propaganda tactic is to convincingly display the processes by which "winning" activity continuously unfolds (such as in Olson's J uran cycle). Both the form and tone of these presentations closely mimic contemporary depictions of war. Susan Jeffords, in her critiques of Vietnamera accounts, says that "the emphasis in V ietnam narrative is placed less on what will take place than on how it will take place" (Jefford s, 1989). In such a world, morality is defined as maximal efficiency or performativity. That is, in s uch a moral universe, any job well done is inherently good and "we" must be good if we do it w ell. WAR Given this emphasis on technical performativity, i t follows that the deployment of the war metaphor is a major feature of TQM discourse (See N ote 2). For TQM is seeable as yet one more of a series of generalizable, technologically-imbue d prescriptions of how to "win" in a neo-Hobbesian transglobal economic order and still feel, well, "moral" about it. As a governmentality, the imposition of TQM is but one a nswer to some nagging contemporary problematics of governance: That is, how does one d iscipline a post-national socio-economic order around poles of obedience and techno-efficien cy, independent of a specific set of ends to be served? Or, in the midst of domestic economic decli ne and class polarization, where general indices of performative skills have plummeted while indicators of dangerousness increase, how does one reconstitute efficient and docile or at le ast docile subjects? One tactic is to weld newer forms of totalization, such as TQM, to older totali zing tactics of governance, such as frequent symbolic declarations of de facto "states of emerge ncy" (Taussig, 1992). In fact, this is what often happens. On the Internet, there are gophers (institutional or commercial menus of electronic resources arranged by topic, author or organization ) and academic LISTSERV's that house numerous e-texts and archived discussions. On one s uch gopher, CAUSE, there are several e-texts of papers delivered at the December, 1993 C AUSE convention. One etext, "Guerrilla TQM or How To Infiltrate TQM Into Your Institution, and a second text (not part of the CAUSE meetings), "The Germ Theory of Management" il lustrate how these vectors of war, morality and economic performativity are woven toge ther (Teeter and Weller, 1993; Tribus, 1989). In "Guerrilla TQM," Tetter and Weller offer only t he most cursory substantive argument for the adoption of TQM within educational bureaucr acies. Ostensibly, they are preaching to the converted. That being the case, the focus of the pa per quickly moves to surveying "covert" strategies for infiltrating TQM into indifferent or hostile educational bureaucracies. First, Totter and Weller survey three general models for implemen ting TQM, one of which is the "infection model." (An infection metaphor imposes the idea of the social as biological organism. This axiom is the common basis for sociological structur al-functionalism and varieties of racialism). Then, they unveil their approach, which they term the guerilla model." Teeter and Weller claim that this "guerilla model" incorporates elements of the "infection model" (Teeter & Weller, 1993). At times, their prose is reminiscent of CIA manuals on psychological warfare. That is, Teeter and Weller totter away from the merely techn ocratic and toward an overtly political discourse. For example, consider the following:


6 of 19The guerrilla movement advanced with the formation of six teams in 1992 to improve administrative processes. This signaled tha t the movement was beginning to realize the goals that brought the members together (Teeter & Weller, 1993). They go on to describe five phases of guerrilla ta ctics: Movement forming, movement recruiting, movement educating, movement activated/ embraced and movement realized. This last movement is the apogee of a dystopian regime of det ail. Movement Realized Integrate these concepts, princ iples and values into the daily lives of faculty and staff. The objectives of the f ive-phase strategy is to transform the university . in all aspects (Teeter & Weller, 1 993). WAR AND THE ORGANIC METAPHOR In a different key, a similar discourse unfolds in Myron Tribus' "The Germ Theory of Management." Tribus, who is listed as the director of Exergy, Inc. and the American Quality and Productivity Institute, explicitly compares the mod e and scale of his work, and TQM in general, to that of Pasteur's discovery of bacilli. Using th e seductions that come from any argument from authority, he dourly warns managers that they must follow his prescriptions or else. These prescriptions are dispensed near the end of his pre sentation in a nebulous, onesize-fits-all TQMish format. According to Tribus, the choice is t o follow him, just as doctors and farmers were compelled to follow Pasteur, or risk professio nal death. In a revealing passage he says: This is not 1879 -it is 1989. You are not doctors You are all respected professionals . This is not some new fad which you shall be free to follow or not . What I am talking about is your survival (Tribu s, 1989). For Tribus, "the key idea is the elimination of th e virus of variability." In fact, all of Tribus' pro-TQM arguments are framed by an organici st trope of the social. For example, consider the following text: These infections of variability . spread from m achine to machine . to the personnel.Processes can have an Immune System Deficiency, too . The fact is the process itself is infected with the virus of variability. If you don't set about sterilizing the process, that is, reducing it s variability, it will certainly infect the workers . it will infect your judgment (Tri bus, 1989). Tribus' use of biological metaphors for the social (society seen as if a body) is a frequent and repetitive feature of TQM discourse. Lost in th e appraisals of TQM and its discursive founder, W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993), are those a ffinities that he shared with the father of sociological structural-functionalism, Talcott Pars ons (1902-1979). Ivy-league contemporaries, both men manifested a will-to-totalize that took th e shape of lifelong romances with organicist, teleological systems theory. Parsons' goal was pres criptive. That is, it was to produce the grand theoretical paradigm for the human sciences. Such a paradigm would have successfully categorized all other disciplines, assigning each i ts place under the taxonomic truthgaze undeniably embodied by the tenets of Parsonian soci ology. Deming had his own "system of profound knowledge" (the title of a chapter from, "The New Economics for Industry, government and Educatio n") (Deming, 1993). Deming prescribed his TQM paradigm as the appropriate guide for the m eta-ordering of management theory and


7 of 19practice across all governmental and corporatist bu reaucracies (Dobyns, 1994). Not content with shaping academic disciplines, Deming advocated his methodology for totally optimizing the administration of human life under the ambiguous si gns of "quality" and system "aims." Leon Wieseltier, writing in The New Republic, trenchantl y critiqued some of the often unexamined premises in Deming's work: "Manage the whole company as a system," Deming writ es. "The function of every component . under good management,contributes t oward optimization of the system . Enlarge judiciously the boundaries of the system. The system must include the future . Study the theory of a syst em." But what is a system? . [According to Deming] A system is a network of inte rdependent components that work together to try and accomplish the aim of a sy stem. A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system. It must be clear to everyone in the system." And what is that aim? Deming's definition is purely formal: "The aim must include plans for the future. [It] is a value-judgement" (W ieseltier, 1993). Wieseltier goes on to discuss some of the unpleasa nt ramifications of Deming's system-veneration. But there is a notable point tha t Wieseltier's critique omits. When Deming claims that the aim of a system is its future-orien tation, Deming is saying that the chief aim of any (generic) system is the propagation of its own security. Therefore, security is the pivotal issue and object of TQM. Consider this excerpt on securit y from Jeremy Bentham, the father of the Panopticon: Among the objects of the law, security is the only one which embraces the future; subsistence, abundance, equality may be regarded fo r a moment only; but security implies extension in point of time with respect to all the benefits to which it is applied. Security is therefore the principal object (Bentham, cited by Gordon, 1991). In some key respects, Deming's narrative of social reality and prescriptions for the installation of an order of Security are but a 20th Century corporatist variations on a theme, first offered up by the 17th Century philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, in his classic work of political theory, Leviathan (1651).LEVIATHAN REDUX: Penning his magnum opus, Leviathan, in the midst o f the English civil war and Interregnum, (1640-1660), Hobbes was horrified at t he carnage and intercine strife that characterized that unhappy period. As a prescriptiv e antidote to the wars, Hobbes argued for a permanent surrender of rights, in the name of Secur ity, to "an artificial man," "a Leviathan." Like Deming, Hobbes spiritualizes governance, in the for m of a "mortal god, to which we owe under the immortal god, our peace and defense (Hobbes, 19 70). In the sections below, consider the striking similarities between Hobbes and Deming on the negative effects of internal strife and competition. where every man is enemy to every man . wherein men live without security . In such condition, there is no place for industry, bec ause the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently, no culture, navigation . .; no arts, no letters; no society; and that which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger . .; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty and brutish and short (Hobbes, 1970).We cannot afford the destructive effects of competi tion . We must throw


8 of 19overboard the idea that competition is a necessary way of life . [I am opposed] to the evils of the merit system . because it sets individuals against each other and motivates them wrongly, selfishly (Deming, 1986). The prescriptions for terminating the "war of all against all" are much the same: The only way to erect a common power . to defen d them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and se cure them . the fruits of the earth is to confer all their power and strength upon one man,or upon an assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of vo ices, unto one will; and therein to submit their wills, every one to his will, and thei r judgments, to his judgment . I authorize and give up my right of governing myself to this man . on this condition that thou give up they right to him and authorize a ll his actions in like man (Hobbes, 1970).the transformation will release the power of human resource . In place of competition [and the evils of the merit system that sets people selfishly apart] there will be cooperation . there will be joy in work . Everyone will win . (Deming, 1993).transformation in any organization will take place under a leader. it will not be spontaneous . The job of a leader is to accompl ish transformation of his organization. He possesses knowledge, personality a nd persuasive power . Quality is determined by the top management. It cannot be d elegated (Deming, 1993). But whereas the Hobbesian proposition authorizes a state-centered communtarianism under the divine right of a king, TQM and its varia nts authorize a corporatist communtarianism under the divine sign of "quality" (which serves as a de facto metonym for "the market"). In either formulation, the logic is ultimately the sam e: "Morality is what the boss wants" (Jackall, 1988). Either formulation would assent to the presc ription offered up by a recent TQM tome: "The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality" (Sashkin & Kiser, 1993). So if a Chancellor, President or Provost within a universit y system defines reality as a committment to total "quality" and quality has no universally acce pted public definition, and "everybody gets to use the definition they want," then quality is the ultimate protean signifier. It is available for flexible, tactical recodings by whomever or whateve r has the most influence in defining social reality at any given moment (Dobyns, 1994). However the prolix of multiple meanings is usually temporary. It is soon disciplined by actors at the "top" who denote, often in highly discretionary ways, the range of appropriate meanings. In the sem iotics of power, prevailing definitions of "quality" mark how well actors define and delimit r epresentations of institutional reality (Foucault, 1984; Dennis, 1993). Make no mistake abo ut it. When Deming says that quality-reality is determined by top management and cannot be delegated, he is privileges the executive production of meaning as a morally unimpe achable event. In this aspect, TQM is a philosophy of due obedience whose effects, if imple mented, would be devastating to the practice of critical thought and the expression of responsib le dissent. As Wieseltier correctly notes, TQM is clearly about more than quality management. TQM is about the politics of meaning and the meaning of politics in an emerging transcorporate o rder (Wieseltier, 1993). And much of the unstated theoretical framework for TQM can be found in the work of the late 19th and early 20th Century Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto. PARETOISM REDUX


9 of 19 Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) was an Italian economi st and sociologist who developed a theory of elites within a sweeping theoretical para digm. For our purposes, Pareto is significant because he differentiated the disciplines of econom ics and sociology by placing the pair within a classic logocentric (Derridean) binarism. For Paret o, economics was the rational (Apollonian) pursuit of knowledge. That is, Pareto defined the r ational pursuit of knowledge as that which takes the acquisition and distribution of scarce re sources as its appropriate object. On the other hand, Pareto's sociology took as its object the irr ational and arational (Dionysian) elements of non-economic social and political life. This distin ction between "rational" economists and "nonrational" social actors was the key tenet that shaped the social science of the Human Relations School of Industrial Management (Abercrom bie, Hill & Turner, 1988). Prominent in the post-WWI period, it was part of the intellectua l backdrop of Ivy League schools of that time, such as Yale (where Deming received his Ph.D. in 19 24). The key ideological tenets of the Human Relations School were: 1. Management and its policies were rational econom ic decisions while the judgment of workers was shaped by irrational considerations;2. Human Relations Practitioners could shape the be havior of employees, who were defined as group oriented (i.e., irrational) and de sirous of social rewards, in the direction of putting management defined group inter ests above individual interests (Abercrombie, Hill & Turner, 1988). So put, sociology was a means to an end. (It was c harged with the shaping of lower-order nonrationalities toward higherorder rational ends ). Defined this way, the goal of these new managerial logics was to manipulate mass attitudes in ways that furthered managerially defined outcomes. Such an aim might be an increase in short -term profit statements. Or, given the rise of public relations and new technologies of persuasion in the post-WWI period, the goal might have been to sway patterns of mass commodity consumption The U.S. Human Relations School, which emerged at the end of the great migration of (largely Catholic and collectivist) Central and Eastern Europeans between 1880-1920, took up a cent ury-old European problematic: How to shape the everyday attitudes and behaviors of those unruly masses of immigrant labor needed to work and/or consume in harsh industrializing urban landscapes (Foucault, 1978). Faced with the collectivist cultures that the immi grants brought with them, older WASP managerial rationalities that embodied an atomistic conception of humans, such as Taylorism, were supplemented with Paretosque-inspired (collect ivist) sociological techniques. Exemplified by the famous General Electric Hawthorne experiment s, the methods of Edward Bernays and Shewhart's PDCA cycle, the Human Relations school d eveloped techniques that became part of the sub-field of industrial psychology. Through gro up-level analyses, standardized techniques were designed, by these HR practitioners to extract continuously higher levels of performativity from the man-machine complex. From the Human Relati ons school to TQM, the goal has been constant. That is, as one relentless TQM propagandi st declares, the system's aim should always be to "get more from less" (Dobyns, 1994).GETTING MORE FROM LESS On its face, "getting more from less" appears to b e just another simplistic TQM exhortation about the optimization of processes. Ho wever, under one deconstructive lens, the goal of "getting more from less" cannot uncondition ally be a qualitativeeffect. That is, by definition, the word "more" is a quantitative term, not a qualitative one. For as we all know, more is not necessarily better. In a purely formal sense then, the slogan "getting more from less," used as a pro forma marker of quality, is oxymoronic. Bu t when contextualized within the


10 of 19econometric discursive-system and profit-maximizing strategies of TNCs, the aphorism makes perfect sense. Langdon Winner, describing a convers ation with a young mechanical engineer just two years out of college, offers up a field-based, denotative, de facto corporatist definition of "getting more from less:" "What's the news from the front line?" I [Winner] a sked him. A glum expression swept across his face. "The rule of thumb is: Get rid of people. People are expensive. So you automate where you can keep a small permament workforce, and fill in with temporary workers paid low wages and no benefits. That's where companies find their `competitive edge' nowad ays" (Winner, 1993). Winner goes on to discuss the effects of these wid ely adopted tactics: [This reflects] a fundamental shift in social relat ions . [Emerging] economic and technical arrangements are based on extremely weak human committments. Innovations praised as `lean production' assume a h igh degree of fluidity in bonds that link persons and organizations . But the l ong-term cultural costs [will] be enormous . One consequence of the rise of Lean America is a marked decline in our spirit of cooperation (Winner, 1993). In one sense, TQM is the ideological symbol that l egitimates those organizational practices that "get more" productivity, control, mo bility and profit by intensively and irreversibly transferring skills from humans to hardware/softwar e ensembles. This means that more can be done "with less." More can be done with less of a p ermament workforce or with temporary workers working for less (low pay and no benefits) or with less health, safety, environmental or labor regulation by government. Occasionally, TQMer 's reveal the material reality of this ideology. For example, Lloyd Dobyns, early in the n arration of a TQM propaganda video, "W. Edwards Deming: The Prophet of Quality" (the homoyn m with "profit" was surely intended), praises the TQM program at Ford as exemplary. As Do byns' paean hums on, viewers see a 30-second video clip, much of it a wide-scan, overh ead shot. The shot is of an automated factory production floor at a Ford plant. As robot arms smo othly manipulate and weld doors and windshields, the alert viewer sees that there are n o people on that factory floor (Dobyns, 1994). The composite message is clear: Quality equals the replacement of human bodies and the transference of human skill by highly specialized a nd impeccably choreographed hardware/software ensembles (Zuboff, 1988). Is it a ny surprise that iconocrats (corporate public relations workers), wishing to soften the perceived impact of deskilling and the expendability of employees, spiritualize these effects? In the ersat z "philosophy" of TQM, acoyltes describe scenes of downwardly mobility as "win-win" situatio ns where top management, in pursuit of the holy grail of quality, knows best. In TQM-speak, ev eryone cooperates and dissent is but a distant and desultory memory. Ideally, there should not be anything more than a faintly dissonant peep when substantial populations are defined as no long er economically viable and consigned to a neo-Darwinsque economic landscape. Across the material and social landscape of univer sities, cultural and architectural environments that allowed spaces for interpersonal, intellectual and perceptual growth are eroding (Aronowitz & DiFazio, 1994). Over the last decade (1985-1995), most universities, facing a troubling nexus of rising costs, reduced f ederal and state funding, stagnant enrollment pools and frequent criticism over the competence of graduates have been vulnerable to corporatist inducements. In the highly volatile pol itics of higher education finances and goals, universities have reshaped their administrative and bureaucratic routines as they have redefined their purpose. A Los Angeles Times article titled Industry Becoming the Big Partner on U.S.


11 of 19Campuses . Colleges Put Themselves Up for `Adop tion' in the Private Sector," details some of the rewiring of academic priorities over the last t en years: "The role of the university in the 21st Century is to transfer technology or ideas out of our labs into the commercial world," says Michae l Hooker, president of the University of Massachusetts . ."Intel is supporting the University of Arizona as i f it were a group within Intel," says Ken Smith, dean of the College of Business. . w e're operating in a more constrained resource environment for higher educati on." IBM, Xerox, Procter & Gamble, Intel, Motorola, Mill iken, and Martin Marietta [have formed] partnerships with universities to p romote the use of [TQM] . (Chaddock, 1992). This intensive wave of corporatization emerged in the wake of the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act (also known as the the University-Small Business) P atent Act (Chaddock, 1992; Negin, 1993). Soon extended by an executive order to include TNCs the act gave research universities the exclusive rights to license information or commodit ies that were the fruits of projects funded by federal research grant monies (Negin, 1993). Accord ing to Negin This enabled schools to attract [TNCs] because they could now sell exclusive licenses on [innovations] made under a company's sp onsorship. Universities promptly started to raise tuition to cover the exor bitant venture-capital [costs] of applied research . [The promise was that] unive rsities would . earn a profit from royalties . .These patent-law changes transformed the university [says Leonard Minsky]: "Formerly, universities had only employees and capi tal. Now they have products to sell. Once universities become a business, the obje ctive is not `education for the people' but looking for marketable products and sel ling the institution to investors" (Negin, 1993). Negin goes on to develop a plausible hypothesis th at TNCs support university-based applied research projects as a means for tapping in to public tax dollars. Tapping into tax dollars translates into "getting more" R & D projects initi ated. Splitting the capital risk for commercially-driven applied research also dilutes t he cost of potentially expensive failures. With the intensive corporatization of universities, TNCs "get more" R & D projects up-and-running "from less" internal capital, labor and material ou tlays. It has allowed TNCs to extend waves of personnel layoffs, transferring the costs of retain ing technical talent to university systems. But even with this political and economic success, thes e cost-shifting tactics were but part of longer-term campaigns for reshaping the normative p rocedures, selfdefinitions and strategic plans of universities. To "get more from less," to maximize universities as productive sites for the extraction of corporate profits, higher educati on had to also mirror the day-to-day routines and symbolic bureaucratic rituals of the transnatio nals. To effectively "re-engineer" the university as de facto corporate colonies, TNCs required an id eological and moral discourse and a human disciplinary technology for reorganizing everyday r outines in the transcorporate mode. Total Quality Management, with its prescriptive communtar ianism and its vague and recodable signifier of "quality," remains an excellent vehicl e for the progagation of bureaucratic morality. As a totalizing discourse, it joins those discourse s that conflate the role of citizen citizen with consumer and the activity of democratic expression with commodity consumption. TQM overtly


12 of 19and unambigiously stigmatizes dissent. TQM depicts difference as a political and technical threat in the form of a much dreaded "virus of variability in need of survelliance, conversion or elimination (See note 3). In implementation into da yto-day material relations, it works as a salve to grease the transfer of human skills into t echnical ensembles. As a discourse, TQM is pure doublespeak. It is a technology of persuasion for managing cognitive dissonance (that asks us to abandon the "western idea" of competition in favor of cooperation to survive a permament economic state of war; or to accept the effects of downsizing and downward mobility as a "win-win" situation). As embodied in administrative apparati, it is a political technology of detail that works to standardize fields of human identitie s and thought. That is, in the universe of Totalized Quality Management, everybody is either a customer, internal or external, or a provider. There is another category, the "resistor. But s/he is a dark and furtive presence that is acknowledged as the true dangerous other, the skept ic, the unbeliever, the evil anti-Deming (Dennis, 1993).WORSHIPPING THE SYSTEM THE CULT OF TQM As Wieseltier notes in a comparison of TQM dystopi as with those depicted in Huxley's Brave New World, TQM is a corporatist cult (Wieselt ier, 1993). It is an idolatry of technique. It is a veneration of "the system." In his 1994 video, Lloyd Dobyns elaborately deifies W. Edwards Deming as "the prophet of quality." Dobyns proudly exhibits the claim, made by U.S. News and World Report, that Deming stands with the apostle S t. Paul as one of the nine men who changed the history of the planet. An exegesis of TQM's hol y "fourteen points," penned by Deming, is conducted in the video with a reverence shown to te xts that are generally considered to be divinely-inspired utterances of timeless significan ce. And then there is Deming's self-described "system of profound knowledge." This profundity con sists of a prescriptive mix of low-level positivistic methods with psychosocial techniques t hat are strongly reminiscient of the human potential movement (Clauson, 1993). But if it were only Deming, Dobyns and Clauson mouthing these banalities, it would not matter. Clearly, thi s is not the case. The haloesque Deming-effect circulates wide and far and is generally accepted u ncritically. We'll take just one example, here, that of Secretary of Labor, Robert B. Reich. Reich compares Deming to "Benjamin Franklin . a guide, a prophet, and instigator" (Wieseltier, 1993 ). Indeed, there are many "true believers" among us. I have read their TQM testaments. In the archives of the LISTSERV TQM-L, (Total Qual ity Management in Higher Education) I have read with interest the testimony of devotees. And I have witnessed the electronic wrath of the righteous. For when an unbe liever questions the scope of the claims made on behalf of TQM, the indignation of the virtuous i nstantly manifests. For example, when one professor of history at the University of South Car olina at Sumter critiqued the inadequacies of Ricordati's PDCA assembly line model of education o n 10/01/93, the responses were digitally swift and certain: I cannot honestly believe that anyone who believes in TQM, continuous improvement, Demming [sic] or simply education woul d write the reply to the message offered.If this is the attitude of Professors of History . Quite frankly, I am beginning to understand why many schools are no longer teaching History . Is [he] for real? Is it possible he is just putting us on? (Walter Olson, on TQM-L, 10/01/93) On the same day, another TQMer wrote:Higher Ed has elements of snobbery and elitism that we must get rid of. When TQM


13 of 19showed success in manufacturing, the design enginee rs said "Fine, but it can't apply to our creative process. We're at too high an intel lectual level for something [like this]." Others accountants, managers, marketers said similar things. Now its clear that TQM applies to ALL processes . TQM can be made to work in them all (D. Jack Elzinga, on TQM-L, 10/01/93). This anti-intellectualism and intolerance toward t he practice critical inquiry is itself disturbing. But when such traits are fused with a c ult of the leader and "true belief" in the eternally benevolent relevance of TQM to all facets of human activity, be it culture, history, politics or pedagogy, then the dogmas of TQM are no longer merely vexing. TQM has passed into the realm of the potentially dangerous. It is symptomatic of an escalating intolerance for difference disguised as "quality management." As we approach the millennium, an ominous spirit composed of equal parts performativity, piety and a corporatist political correctness haunts the academe (Pratt, 1994). Its name is Totalized Qualit y Management. CONCLUSION: ETHNOCENTRISM REDUX We live in an uncertain world that is concurrently more totalized and chaotic. Icons of U.S. commodity culture, such as Coca-Cola, Disney o r Madonna, are everywhere but the rapid and discontinuous unfolding of events events econ omic, events political, events cultural, events transcorporate far exceed any linear, positivisti c narratives of prediction, control or explanation. (Contemporary chaos theory is predicated on the ins ufficiencies of linear models of prediction and control). However, because regimes of control a nd prediction, such as Totalized Quality Management, are coextensive with moral, technical, political and pedagogical programs, epistemologies and methods that claim transparency of representation and immediacy of knowledge (in the form of "raw data") are compellin g to the Security-driven. In the application of econometric grids such as TQM on to the routines of socio-cultural life, difference is tamed through the universal commodification of human iden tity and culture. Dissent is derailed by technocratic discourses of performativity. Obedienc e is inculcated by deploying psychosocial techniques of persuasion geared toward shaping "irr ational" noneconomic human desires toward managerially-defined "rational" economic end s. And through the worship of the ambiguous signifier of "quality," which is itself a metonym for "the system," the cybernetic-econometric grid becomes its own object of worship. This is an econometric ethnocentrism of the first order. Totalized Quality Management is a set of universal izing, reductionist discourses/practices meant to impose a measurable, commodity-based set o f categories upon the imaginative range of human identities. If TQM is successful in its reins criptions, it will shape the total range of possible and thinkable activities and identities. T he richness, diversity and uniqueness of human experiences across space, time and place will be fl attened into the binary categories of customer (a term that is repetitively and stunningly defined as "the next person in line)" and producer/provider. This is an econometric ethnocent rism, par excellence. Once the transformation has occurred, once social reality ha s been "re-engineered," the perceptual fields and behaviors of populations, now defined in the bi narisms of TQM (customer/provider) can be shaped by a mix of propagandistic campaigns and low -level positivistic techniques. The political implications of such conceits, embod ied in texts like Tribus' "The Germ Theory of Management", are ominous. That is, the mo re insidious the "enemy," who is a continuously redefinable germ of human "variation," (hence the HIV references in Tribus' piece), the more opportunities emerge for intensive develop ment of survelliance technologies in the name of riskmanagement. The effects of these prog rammatics upon the nurturance of intellectual diversity, the practice of dissent, th e vibrancy of extra-economic discourse, the physical architecture of institutions, the imaginat ive richness of our socius and the shape of


14 of 19student and teacher identities could very well be d evastating. Recently, Linda Ray Pratt, in a Presidential addre ss to the American Association of University Professors, analyzed the underlying poli tical logic of such regimes as TQM. Forcefully, she argued that "what is at stake . is nothing less than the profession as we have known it" (Pratt, 1994). Indeed, it is not just the profession that is at stake. Having established that "quality" is a metonym for system-worship, whi ch itself is a deification of mangerial prerogatives, the question remains: Are we moving t oward a regime of Total Systematic Management of Humans? And, if so, how can we refuse defuse and resist such a dangerously totalizing program?NOTES: (1) "Quality," says Dobyns in the video W. Edward s Deming: The Prophet of Quality "has no accepted definition." This gives the term a pseudo Zen-like characteristic. That is, in one book, quality is defined as "customer delight" (Roberts & Sergesketter, 1993). Notably, Deming conceptually thrashes around, unable to come up wit h anything near a usable definition of quality, in Chapter 6 of Out of the Crisis (Deming, 1986). In another book, the authors survey how TQM "gurus" define this elusive trait. For Jura n, "Quality is fitness for use," a definition that has interesting political undertones (Dobyns & Craw ford-Mason, 1991). Phil Crosby developed a definition with a similar set of connotations: "Qua lity is conformance to requirements" (Tenner & DeToro, 1992). For Feigenbaum, quality is "what t he buyer says it is" (Dobyns & Crawford-Mason, 1991). The same authors cite John S tepp's definition of quality: "I know it when I see it," thereby unwittingly echoing the lat e Potter Stewart's famous quip about how he (Potter), as an associate Justice of the Supreme Co urt, decided whether a specific art work was legally obscene or not.(2) The war metaphor is a central and repetitive mo tif of TQM discourse. Even a brief eyeballing of print materials on TQM makes this point amply cl ear. For example, James H. Saylor's 1992 book, TQM Field Manual, offers up a rationale, in p age xvi of the preface for the incessant use of the war metaphor: The war theme is used to convey the seriousness of the economic situation in the U.S. today. We are engaged in total economic war. O ur very survival as an economic force is at stake. Already there have been many cas ualties. Many organizations and people have been wounded, and some have been destro yed . [TQM] is the process that can turn defeat into victory . in the econ omic war (Saylor, 1992). In this self-described "field manual," each chapte r begins with a quotation from a translation of the ancient Chinese text, The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Many of the key subsections of a chapter are also graced by such quotations. An d in Saylor's opening prose throughout the chapters, the invocation of the war metaphor shapes the tone and details of the subsequent text. For example, in Chapter One, Saylor begins with "In the atmosphere of economic war, American industry needs a full arsenal." In Chapter Two, at the top, Saylor says that "The current economic war must not be ignored. Every organization must ad apt to a new world characterized by . rabid competition" ( (Saylor, 1992). And in languag e that unpleasantly resonates with the bureaucratization of the "Final Solution," Chapter Eleven is titled, "The Final Campaign." Declaring that the survival of nations is at stake, he goes on to say that In order to achieve victories in this, the final ca mpaign, many changes from traditional methods are required . [including] a strategy of flexible, rapid response .


15 of 19 Not surprisingly, the last quarter of the book is devoted to how the Department of Defense (DoD) has defined and implemented TQM at the Pentag on. The same survival and suicide metaphor takes on an explicitly Social Darwinist cast for the late W. Edwards Deming: Survival of the fittest: Who will survive? Companie s that adopt constancy of purpose . Charles Darwin's law of survival of t he fittest, and that the unfit do not survive, holds in [society] as well as natural sele ction. It is a cruel law, unrelenting . [but] the problem will solve itself (Deming, 1986 ). The point here is not that every TQM tome explicit ly invokes the war metaphor (many do not) but that this trope is a normative feature of many of the ideological underpinnings of TQM, whether the trope is directly invoked or not. Teete r and Weller's piece, as well as Tribus', are not discursive outliers. Rather, they are standard fare within TQM linguistic and conceptual grids. (3) Definitions of TQM are as multiple, vague and r ecodable as the signifier that is "Quality." But one common definition cited in several texts is from the Department of Defense (Pentagon). It is as follows: TQM is both a philosophy and a set of guiding princ iples that are the foundation of a continuously improving organization. TQM is the app lication of quantitative methods and human resources to improve the material services applied to an organization, all the processes within the organiza tion, all the processes within the organization, and the degree to which the needs of the customer are met, now and in the future. TQM integrates fundamental management t echniques, existing improvement efforts, and technical tools under a di sciplined approach focused on continuous improvement (Brocka & Brocka, 1992; Sayl or, 1992). What "the philosophy" is varies from text to text. But one common demoninator across many definitions is that of Total Management, "invo lving everything and everyone . [and] all systems and processes" (Saylor, 1992). In fact, whe ther these global descriptors are found in the posts of TQM-L or in texts such as Saylors, the ter ms ALL and EVERYTHING are frequently and repetitively invoked. But the use of the DoD's definition is yet another thread that ties TQM, in a very material sense, to the trope of war. Another trait common to TQM discourse is the confl ation of a blind faith in methods and measuring ensembles with activities of critical inq uiry and philosophy. One text says that The foundation of TQM is philosophical: the scienti fic method. It includes systems, methods, and tools. The systems permit change, the philosophy stays the same (Roberts & Sergesketter, 1993). To my mind, a Nietzschean aphorism is the last wor d on such issues: It is not the victory of science that distinguishes our century, but the victory of scientific method over science (Nietzsche, 1968). References Abercrombie, Nicholas, Hill, Stephen, Turner, Brian S (1988). The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, 2nd Edition. New York. Penguin Books.


16 of 19Aronowitz, Stanley, DiFazio, William (1994). The Jo bless Future: Sci-Tech and the Dogma of Work. Minneapolis. University of Minnesota Press.Brocka, Bruce, Brocka, M. Suzanne (1992). Quality M anagement: Implementing the Best Ideas of the Masters. Business One Irwin. Homewood.Clauson, Jim (1993). Primary LISTSERV owner for TQM -L, discussions on "Deming's Profound Knowledge," week of 10/24/93.Chaddock, Gail Russell (1992). "Industry becoming t he big partner on U.S. Campuses; As Public Funds Dwindle, Colleges Put Themselves Up for `Adop tion' in Private Sector. UniversityBusiness Ventures are Booming." Los Angeles Times, View; Part E; Page 9; Column 1; 12/13/92. Etext retrieved from Nexis/Lexis.Deming, W. Edward (1986). Out of the Crisis. Cambri dge. MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study.........(1993). The New Economics for Industry, Gov ernment, Education. Cambridge. MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study.Dennis, Dion (1993). "License and Commodification: The Birth of an Information Oligarchy." Humanity and Society, 17 (1), 48-69.Dobyns, Lloyd (1994). "The Prophet of Quality: W. E dwards Deming." Video Production written and narrated by Lloyd Dobyns. Silver Springs. Woote n Productions. Dobyns, Lloyd, Crawford-Mason, Clare (1991). Qualit y or Else: The Revolution in World Business. Boston. Houghton Miffin.Elzinga, D. Jack (1993). Archived discussion of LIS TSERV TQM-L. Retrieved as etext from the Babson College Gopher.Foucault, Michel (1978). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Translator, Sheridan, Alan. New York. Vintage Books...........(1984). "What is An Author?" The Foucault Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow. New York. Pantheon...........(1990). The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction. Translator, Hurley, Robert. New York. Vintage Books.Gordon, Colin (1991). "Government Rationality: An I ntroduction." The Foucault Effect, 1-52. Hobbes, Thomas (1970). Leviathan. New York. Washing ton Square Press. Jablonski, Joseph R. (1992). Implementing TQM: Comp eting in the Nineties Through Total Quality Management, 2nd Edition. Technical Manageme nt Consortium, Inc. Albuquerque. Jackall, Robert (1988). Moral Mazes: The World of C orporate Managers. New York. Oxford University Press.Jeffords, Susan (1989). The Remasculinization of Am erica: Gender and the Vietnam War. Bloomington. Indiana University Press.


17 of 19 Lyotard, Jean-Francois (1984). The Postmodern Condi tion: A Report on Knowledge. Translators, Bennington, Geoff, Massumi, Brian. Minneapolis. Uni versity of Minnesota Press. Mandel, Michael J., Melcher, Richard A., Yang, Dori Jones, McNamee, Mike (1995). "Will Schools Ever Get Better?" Business Week, 04/17/95, 64-68. Negin, Elliott (1993). "Education: Why College Tuit ions Are So High." The Atlantic, 271 (3), 32-44.Nietzsche, Friedrich (1968). The Will to Power. Tra ns. by Kaufman, Walter and Hollingdale, R.J. Vintage. New York.Olson, Walter (1993). "Re: Juran #9." Archived disc ussions from the LISTSERV TQM-L. Retrieved as an etext from the Babson College Gophe r. Pratt, Linda Ray (1994). "A New Face for the Profes sion." Academe: Bulletin of the AAUP, 8 (5), 38-41.Ricordati, Timothy (1993). "TQM principles used to plan and teach a class." Archived discussion from the LISTSERV TQM-L. Retrieved as an etext from the Babson College Gopher. Roberts, Harry V., Sergesketter, Bernard F. (1993). Quality is Personal: A Foundation for Total Quality Management. The Free Press. New York.Sashkin, Marshall, Kiser, Kenneth J. (1993). Puttin g Total Quality Management to Work: What TQM Means, How to Use It & How to Sustain It Over t he Long Run. San Francisco. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.Saylor, James H. (1992). TQM Field Manual. McGraw-H ill. New York. Tenner, Arthur R., DeToro, Irving J. (1992). Total Quality Management: Three Steps to Continuous Improvement. Addison-Wesley. Reading.Teeter, Deborah J., Weller, Jan (1993). "Guerrilla TQM or How to Infilitrate TQM into Your Institution." Retrieved as an etext on the Internet from the CAUSE gopher. Taussig, Michael (1992). The Nervous System. New Yo rk. Routledge. Tribus, Myron (1989). "The Germ Theory of Managemen t." Etext retrieved from the Internet, Babson College Gopher.Wieseltier, Leon (1993). "Total Quality Meaning." T he New Republic, 07/23/93. Etext retrieved from The Electronic Newsstand.Winner, Langdon (1993). "The Culture of Technology; Losing the Cooperative Edge." Technology Review, Nov./Dec 1993. E-text retrieved from the Electronic Newsstand. Zuboff, Shoshana (1988). In the Age of the Smart Ma chine: The Future of Work and Power. New York. Basic Books.Copyright 1995 by the Education Policy Analysis Archives


18 of 19EPAA can be accessed either by visiting one of its seve ral archived forms or by subscribing to the LISTSERV known as EPAA at (To sub scribe, send an email letter to whose sole contents are SUB EPAA y our-name.) As articles are published by the Archives they are sent immediately to the EPAA subscribers and simultaneously archived in three forms. Articles are archived on EPAA as individual files under the name of the author a nd the Volume and article number. For example, the article by Stephen Kemmis in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Archives can be retrieved by sending an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@a and making the single line in the letter rea d GET KEMMIS V1N1 F=MAIL. For a table of contents of the entire ARCHIVES, send the following e-mail message to INDEX EPAA F=MAIL, tha t is, send an e-mail letter and make its single line read INDEX EPAA F=MAIL.The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is Policy Analysis Archives are "gophered" at To receive a publication guide for submitting artic les, see the EPAA World Wide Web site or send an e-mail letter to and include the single l ine GET EPAA PUBGUIDE F=MAIL. It will be sent to you by return e-mail. General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, Glass@asu.ed u or reach him at College of Education, Arizona Sta te University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. (602-965-2692)Editorial Board John Andrew Coulson Alan Davis Mark E. Thomas F. Alison I. Arlen Gullickson Ernest R. Aimee Craig B. Howley u56e3@wvnvm.bitnet William Richard M. Jaeger Benjamin Thomas Dewayne Mary P. Les Susan Bobbitt Anne L. Hugh G. Richard C. Anthony G. Rud


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