Simple guiding principles for an #unappraisal

22 Dec

We see the toll that performance management takes. We see it couched in the language of being effective and what it means to exist in an excellent organisation, predicated on internal relations prescribed as healthy or resilient. We feel such languages and practices sucking the affective marrow out of our beings. We see organisational appraisal as a drive for organisational surplus at the expense of the community, and it reminds us of Hayek:

in the evolution of the structure of human activities, profitability works as a signal that guides selection towards what makes man more fruitful; only what is more profitable will, as a rule, nourish more people, for it sacrifices less than it adds. (F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 46.)

Appraisal is driven by organisational strategy and rooted in the support for those activities that enable the institution to mediate its performance through competition, surplus, the market, commodity production and exchange. It is SMART but never wise. It is never about self-mediation. It is about estrangement; about being a stranger to yourself.

To that end, we have scoped some simple guiding principles for an #unappraisal. For an alternative way of doing academic work.

  1. Hold the unappraisal in a space conducive to discussing existence in-and-against academic work
  2. Use the unappraisal to help each other to make sense of and exist in their own capitalist university – unappraisers help each other look after themselves in their institutions.
  3. Live values of courage, faith, generosity, tolerance and dignity in your unappraisal
  4. The unappraisal is a contribution to solidarity, and its point of origin and return is self and shared dignity
  5. Nourish your body as well as your soul in unappraising
  6. Careful and courageous examination of the languages, presuppositions and values of the capitalist university is a starting point for unappraisal
  7. In refusing excellence, impact, objectives and indicators, you will be initiating the learning process called unappraisal
  8. By accepting, celebrating and challenging the autobiographical nature of academic work you will be entering into unappraisal
  9. The unappraisal is not framed by helplessness or lamentation; it’s negativity points towards hope through care

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