Monday, 19 January 2015

Horrible Work Organizations: Research Clientelism in Higher Education

On the run up to the Research Excellence Framework there was much busyness about who was going to do what, how it was presented, who was in, who was out - what researchers are research active, what staff are to be excluded etc etc ad nauseam et ad infinitum.  I attended only one meeting and my contribution was why beat ourselves up about this as even if the REF results in monies/research funds coming our way - managers may (and historically have) decided that the money goes elsewhere.

At Wretchington, a particularly obnoxious Knob was made Director of Research and the insider argument was that he was selected in the knowledge or hope that he would balls it up and thereby justify the institution's sacking or at least demoting of him. HalfArse Houlihan and he were close, shall we say.  And, I think that I am correct in saying that the Executive in charge of Research and Enterprise was himself registered for a Research Degree at a somewhat more prestigious institution - I am not sure if he has submitted his thesis yet. Interestingly, I believe that NONE of the directors of  Wretchington have a research degree.  Years ago he was described as being in the (institution's exit) waiting room. I saw him performing just the once at a meeting I attended as a non-executive director. He used the term 'shovel ready' to describe a project on which he was reporting. To be he was the Shit-Shovelling Shovel Ready Shit.

The School, later Faculty, that Behavioural Sciences was to be restructured into was that of Health and Well-Being another, terrible misnomer. Its leading research light has been quoted in the institutions brochure 'Research Excellence'as saying the following: 'The broad focus of each research theme means that it is easy to modify the range and the scope of the indicative content within our research focus, which allows us to respond quickly to changes in industry'.  What on earth does this mean and what, Dear Reader, is it doing in a University's research plan?  For me, this was the writing on the wall. No way could one develop as an independent researcher in an environment which espoused such values. OK, the penetration of industry into the research agendas of Universities has been with us since the Second World War (see Ravetz 1971 for example). But to work in an institution where other possible research scenarios were never explored was to work in a very restrictive and narrow environment. Research generally had to be applied, be capable of generating income, and was not likely to rock the boat.

Interestingly and reasssuring to note,  the University of Wretchington slipped down the league tables once the REF outcomes were made known. In common with the Chief Executives of many such institutions, Wretchington's Chief Executive was said to be delighted that 'world class' research was taking place at Wretchington (but not as much as he would like, no doubt).

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Horrible Work Organizations: The Whereabouts of HalfArse Houlihan


The following arrived in my inbox this week from a former colleague who, like many, at the ancient and learned institution was treated very badly by HalfArse Houlihan.


I can get you sort of up-to-date about the comings and goings of HalfArse Houlihan. His first wife G once had a baby sitter called Veronica, who she still sees a lot of. Veronica has a son in his mid fifties, who leads a bizarre life. Each morning his mother gives him his breakfast, then out he goes to walk the local streets. He  returns home for lunch, then walks the streets again until he returns  home for his tea. This obsessive behaviour is repeated every day,  that's all he does with his life. He is often seen walking around  this area, and knows that I know the Houlihans, so when I bump into him I end-up hearing all about them, even though I have pointed out to  him, on more than one occasion, that to me they are just an aberration. As you say he 'retired' in July, although of course he never really  did any work, so I suppose in reality he actually retired much  earlier. He is now hanging around G again. If she has him back  she wants her head looking at. His other second half, Mrs Houlihan 2,   finished before him and now lives in Newtown Powys. So the  Houlihan generation is now a thing of the past at Wretchington. 

 Ike recently told me that when HalfArse departed, he left all  kinds of problems behind. He departed rapidly because the new dean  gave him some work to do and insisted that he did it. A foreign  concept indeed. He always tried to appear to be far more  knowledgeable than he was, I never thought he was very bright. I  assume he had been pontificating to the new dean, who gave him the  job of overseeing the building of the new labs in what we knew as 'B'  Block. HalfArse was clearly not up to the job, and little was done. The  only way he could deal with it was to take time off, with stress. He  was off for a considerable time, then left. Ike also told me that  one of Houlihans's duties was to look after some of the finances, and so  not surprisingly, part of the faculty almost ground to a halt because  some of the research groups were not receiving funds that had been  allocated to them. Basically it was a mess, he had over three hundred  unanswered emails on his computer, all to do with work, from the time  before he went off sick. So finally, thank goodness, someone, in the  form of the dean caught up with him. I had the misfortune to bump  into him and his son a few weeks ago as I departed from W's  railway station. I imagine they were on their way to the Great  Western. I just looked the other way, and ignored them. According to Ike, DD is now in charge of behavioral sciences. I  sometimes bump into N who looks more and more like a tramp.  His clothes are shabbier than ever, he always looks as though he  needs a shave and his hair wants a good wash. He never speaks, I  think he has forgotten me.

Horrible Work Organizations: The Whereabouts of HalfArse Houlihan


The following arrived in my inbox this week from a former colleague who, like many, at the ancient and learned institution was treated very badly by HalfArse Houlihan.


I can get you sort of up-to-date about the comings and goings of HalfArse Houlihan. His first wife G once had a baby sitter called Veronica, who she still sees a lot of. Veronica has a son in his mid fifties, who leads a bizarre life. Each morning his mother gives him his breakfast, then out he goes to walk the local streets. He  returns home for lunch, then walks the streets again until he returns  home for his tea. This obsessive behaviour is repeated every day,  that's all he does with his life. He is often seen walking around  this area, and knows that I know the Houlihans, so when I bump into him I end-up hearing all about them, even though I have pointed out to  him, on more than one occasion, that to me they are just an aberration. As you say he 'retired' in July, although of course he never really  did any work, so I suppose in reality he actually retired much  earlier. He is now hanging around G again. If she has him back  she wants her head looking at. His other second half, Mrs Houlihan 2,   finished before him and now lives in Newtown Powys. So the  Houlihan generation is now a thing of the past at Wretchington. 

 Ike recently told me that when HalfArse departed, he left all  kinds of problems behind. He departed rapidly because the new dean  gave him some work to do and insisted that he did it. A foreign  concept indeed. He always tried to appear to be far more  knowledgeable than he was, I never thought he was very bright. I  assume he had been pontificating to the new dean, who gave him the  job of overseeing the building of the new labs in what we knew as 'B'  Block. HalfArse was clearly not up to the job, and little was done. The  only way he could deal with it was to take time off, with stress. He  was off for a considerable time, then left. Ike also told me that  one of Houlihans's duties was to look after some of the finances, and so  not surprisingly, part of the faculty almost ground to a halt because  some of the research groups were not receiving funds that had been  allocated to them. Basically it was a mess, he had over three hundred  unanswered emails on his computer, all to do with work, from the time  before he went off sick. So finally, thank goodness, someone, in the  form of the dean caught up with him. I had the misfortune to bump  into him and his son a few weeks ago as I departed from W's  railway station. I imagine they were on their way to the Great  Western. I just looked the other way, and ignored them. According to Ike, DD is now in charge of behavioral sciences. I  sometimes bump into N who looks more and more like a tramp.  His clothes are shabbier than ever, he always looks as though he  needs a shave and his hair wants a good wash. He never speaks, I  think he has forgotten me.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Horrible Work Organizations: He was brimful of evil.

Being brimful of evil is how King John was described in Magna Carta: the Aftermath of Runnymede http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04wwcnm - a series of four programmes introduced by Lord Melvin Bragg. King John was described as the smile with a knife. How many of us in our day-to-day work organizations have met with managers who might be so described. Ramsarse in a previous post may be one. In my own experience HalfArse Houlihan is the best example, an unprincipled shit who will lie - and persuade others to lie - steal, defraud to maintain his own position and his own belief in his worth, a self which has little or no credit now. So brimful of evil is he - so full of shit - that his paltry scab covered body - he hosts psoriasis - that the department is pervaded by the stench of his bodily and moral decay.  It is as if his body cannot contain his evil and leaks it so that other souls may be warned of the horror in their midst.

Hell itself is defiled by the fouler presence of King John'. ... and slothful; judicious and corrupt; sensitive and myopic; intelligent and brutish; cultured and violent. 


(Who's who in British History: A-H - Page 731 - Google Books Result

https://books.google.co.uk/books?isbn=1884964907
Geoffrey Russell Richards Treasure - 1998 - ‎Great Britain)

To my horror when sitting next to an executive director of this institution at a meeting where the non-executive directors were in attendance, I sensed a whiff from him which was almost identical to that HalfArse Houlihan. Of the same kidney - I thought. It was the last meeting of non-executive directors I attended.

PS: I wonder if King John was similarly stinking.


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