Requested Publication

Macpherson, R.J.S. (1999). An organised anarchy or a community of diverse virtue ethics? The case of the Elam School of Fine Arts. International Journal of Educational Management, 13(5), 219-225.
Published: 1999-01-01
Posted: 2011-04-25
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There is a widely accepted myth in New Zealand that the Elam School of Fine Arts in the University of Auckland is an organised anarchy, internally divided and cantankerously unbiddable, and further, that this is largely inevitable given the nature of artists and designers. Its unique culture, however, is shown in this paper to have been generated and reinforced over decades by the exigencies of environment, partitioned and media-based curricula structures, intense and volatile relationships, and, occasionally, inappropriate leadership services. This history has created a culture of exuberant individualism, high productivity and disciplinary sectionalism. And yet, despite this history, Elam has sustained a major role in shaping New Zealand’s cultural identity, and continues to produce some of the countries most outstanding visual artists and designers. The paradox involved is partially explained by persistent evidence of self-managing teams, creative problem-solving, and independent excellence, that together suggest deep and plural commitments to a virtue ethic.