5.4.05

QUOTE OF THE DAY. Blogs for Industry has more thoughts on Max Boot's misplaced analogies between industry and the academy.
Contrary to the rantings of pundits and sports fans, mistakes are a normal part of life, and firing those who make mistakes is only rational if the benefit of replacing a fallible worker with another fallible worker (As Stephen Colbert pointed out on the Daily Show last night - now that we are without a pope, we don't have anyone who is infallible until they elect a new one) outweighs the loss of institutional memory and the cost of replacement and training. Moreover, loyalty to employees is seen as a benefit that makes some jobs more attractive than others - in the case of academia, the prospect of tenure is a benefit that weighs against the opportunity costs of years of training and odds against getting to tenure.
Not only that, but the longer the odds against tenure, the more expensive the research superstars will become. (I'm working from memory of a 1989 article in Journal of Political Economy: would that my existence were cushy enough to put that definitive post together.) Is it really the case that the reformers of the university would have NBA-style free agency with similarly short careers for star academicians?

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