Neo-liberal reforms in higher education have resulted in corporate managerial practices in universities and a drive for efficiency and productivity in teaching and research. As a result, there has been an intensification of academic work, increased stress for academics and an emphasis on accountability and performativity in universities. The paper proposes that while managerialism in modern universities is now the norm, corporate approaches have disempowered academics in their institutions and reduced productivity because they ignore the nature of academic work. Using Foucaultís conception of power relations in institutions, policies that directly affect academic work such as workload allocation and performance management are identified as key ways in which power is exercised in universities. The paper reports on a case study in one university which explored the relationship between the academic workload allocation and performance management policies and concludes that a more balanced power relationship is needed in which academics can have more influence over these key processes which control their work so they preserve the self-managed aspects of academic work and the intrinsic motivations driving their careers.