Marc Bousquet:

“Birnbaum notes the utility to leadership of establishing ‘permanent structural garbage cans such as the academic senate’ . . . He observes that task forces, committees, and other receptacles of faculty garbage are ‘highly visible, they confer status on those participating, and they are instrumentally unimportant to the institution.’ Their real function is to ‘act as buffers or energy sinks that absorb problems, solutions, and participants like a sponge and prevent them from sloshing around and disturbing arenas in which people [meaning administrative decisionmakers] wish to act.’ . . . Birnbaum emphasizes that leaders have to listen to the organizational environment – or more accurately, monitor it . . . and that presidents ‘should encourage dissensus.’ This promotion of dissent is not to encourage organizational democracy. It is to provide more accurate information to ‘decision arenas’ and ‘reduce leader error.’ . . . It isn’t about enabling speech on the part of non-leadership constituencies, it’s about harvesting information.”

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