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Thanks for you good comments, Bill. However, I am a great fan of the work of Clay Christensen at Harvard BS. He argues that companies fail if they do not understand the job that their clients are hiring their product to do. My effort in this set of posts is to look at who is hiring us to do what. The stakeholder approach, valuable as it is, is our traditional way of viewing the issue. I believe that we need to re-look at much of what we do from different perspectives if we are to handle effectively the changing environment for higher education.

Bill Bailey

Supplier customer relationships in higher education are complex. Certainly, students, potential employers and society all enjoy the role of customers at times, but so do faculty. Students are customers of the university, and should rightly expect certain outcomes for their money. But, they are also part of the process, so they must bear part of the responsibility. In a classroom setting, the professor is the customer of the student's work, even though the student is a customer of the university. When the professor provides feedback on a completed assignment, the student again becomes customer. Since the term "customer" is so prone to strike a nerve among academics, I suggest that we not use it at all. We all know what stakeholders are, and that they are entitled to certain expectations. If we focus conversations on the stakeholder, they will be much more productive.

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