Ethics “Upfront”: Generating an Organizational Framework for a New University of Technology

Penelope Engel-Hills*, Christine Winberg, Arie Rip

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    14 Downloads (Pure)


    A powerful set of projections has constructed post-apartheid higher education in South Africa. Among these is the expectation that technikons (institutions similar to the British polytechnics) would become universities of technology, with a mission to drive the technology of national reconstruction and development. In this paper, one of the new universities of technology serves as a case study to explore organizational structure and to highlight the ethics of university management and leadership. Building a new university provides the opportunity to place ethics “upfront”, rather than as an afterthought, by constructing an organizational framework that makes ethical issues integral to management and decision-making processes. In imagining the structure of a university of technology, the authors were inspired by future scripting methods developed by Bastiaan De Laat, and by Duncan Den Boer, Arie Rip and Sandra Speller. The research process firstly involved the identification of themes related to values and ethics through an analysis of the environment. These themes were incorporated into three scenarios of possible futures for this new university type. Using these scenarios, the ethical issues that emerged (according to how the university of technology might choose to organise itself), are compared with the original themes. Conclusions are then drawn with regard to management structures that are hierarchical and entrench compliance, or that are traditionally collegiate and expertise-based, or that might enable mutual appreciation and allow for leaders to emerge within any functional space at a university of technology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1705-1720
    Number of pages16
    JournalScience and engineering ethics
    Issue number6
    Early online date28 Sept 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


    • Compliance
    • Disaffiliation
    • Higher education management
    • Management ethics
    • Mutual appreciation
    • New public management
    • Scenario building
    • n/a OA procedure


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