Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Stephen King leaves ACCC, goes to Monash

The ACCC's Stephen King has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University.  Joshua Gans provides praise for the appointment of his co-author and business partner.

I hope this appointment is a success story for Monash - a university which, in my view, has not quite lived up to its considerable potential in the economics and business areas.   In the late 1970s I visited Monash and came to the view that it would likely become one of the top economics department in Australia.  It then had resources plus a youthful dynamism but the positive outcome didn't happen. Monash has had similar opportunities since then but has suffered under a load of administrative philistinism.

Today Monash has outstanding academics including Professors Yew-Kwang Ng and Peter Dixon.  It needs to be driven in a direction that encourages scholarship and which abandons values of academic entrepreneurship and managerialism.  Stephen King probably has the required values - it remains to see what changes he can make given administrative structures that often promote administrative rather academic values.

If Stephen can achieve success in putting competitive pressures on other universities, the business and economics areas throughout Australia - including my own - will derive benefits.  It is up to the Dean incumbent to be cautious and calculating but not to lose sight of core academic goals - good teaching, good research not administrative empire building.  Overall I am reasonably optimistic that the outcome with Stephen will be an improvement that will advance business and economics education in Australia.

But time will tell.

Update: I learnt today that Professor Gael McDonald has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at Deakin University. Professor McDonald undertook her PhD at the London School of Economics in 1989 on 'cross cultural issues in ethics management'. She has published in 'sports management' and on 'character education in NZ schools' - I could not locate a comprehensive CV online. Professor McDonald is currently Vice-President (Research) at Unitec in New Zealand. She has held a number of senior positions, including Vice-President (International) and, before that, Dean of the Faculty of Business at Unitec. Here are some more of her recent publications.


Anonymous said...

Not that I know a lot about economics, but I believe they have the best econometrics group in Australia (I'm sure you would know that far better than me!).

However, I think the following

"academic entrepreneurship and managerialism"

isn't just a problem of that group. From friends I have working at Monash in other places, it's one of the the worst places in Australia for this, and given most places are already bad for this, that means it's really really bad. As far as I can tell, most university management still thinks its the 1982 -- it'll be interesting to see how they cope in the next decade or so when they are forced to work out what to do with large amounts of retirements and stronger competition from every other sector for smart and well educated people. I imagine we'll end up like New Zealand, where the only area we are competitive in is philosophy.

Anonymous said...

"it would likely become one of the top economics department in Australia ...the positive outcome didn't happen."

Some would say it's been a horror story.

Which makes Stephen King perfectly qualified for the job.

Anonymous said...

Stephen is certainly the very best person in the market for deans.

Monash is likely to become Australia's leading economics school.

PS. This news is very disappointing for other universities who are looking for a new dean.

Anonymous said...

All the best for Stephen in what will be a challenging position.

Monash had good individual economists, and a strong reputation in economics, but it never seemed to be the powerhouse in Australian economics that one might have expected.

Anonymous said...

The first thing that the Monash faculty should learn is how to spell their new dean's name. They've spelt it "Steven" according to Harry's link.

Anonymous said...


What do you mean by "academic entrepreneurship"?

hc said...


(revised) Excessive emphasis on bureaucracy and on marketing. An emphasis on groupthink - 'research strategy' and 'strategy' generally.

Professors as middle managers and administrators implementing the will of bureaucrats who do no teaching and who typically have backgrounds separate from the disciplines taught.

John Dawkins did extreme damage to the Australian universities. Successive subsequent governments have fostered his ideas.

His impact was not confined to Monash.

Anonymous said...

Sounds exactly like the present situation at the University of Melbourne to me. Dress codes for Open Day and uniquitous marketing, while the real issue is how to plug a budget shortfall.