Tackling knowledge ‘like a business’? Rethinking the modernisation of higher education in Poland

Agnieszka Bates, Rafał Godoń

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The year 1989 marked the official end of communist rule in Poland and the replacement of 'Gosplan' by new instruments for liberal democratic governance. In terms of the economy this heralded a departure from Gosplan’s five-year planning cycles, performance targets and the ‘propaganda of success’. Paradoxically, however, twenty-seven years later, the marketisation of higher education in Poland has been accompanied by a continuation of Gosplan thinking. This is manifested in a neoliberal vision of the modern, ‘corporate’ university as a largely utilitarian enterprise, but subject to a style of performance management strongly resonant of the Soviet era. This article analyses the thinking, ideas and ideologies that have shaped contemporary higher education in Poland. It is contended that the rise of the ‘corporate university’ signals the twilight of the Humboldtian tradition and raises questions about what the corporate ideal of ‘excellence’ may mean for the future of the university.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-467
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Early online date3 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • modernisation
  • Humboldtian tradition
  • Gosplan thinking
  • Bologna Process
  • corporate university

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