Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Episodes in the Decline of Western Civilization: Corporatizing the Academy

"Minding the Academy's Business," by David J. Siegel. Worth a read. This is a real and growing problem.

[HT: The mighty Armenius]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corporatizing schools at any level is about as useful as corporatizing government. It's not only a category mistake, it's a bad model for academe and government. They exist to accomplish things that the market won't - or will do only very narrowly.

I've worked in the public sector and in the private sector. Both have terrible inefficiencies and stupidities. Both also have efficiencies and intelligences. Mainly, these attributes depend upon the people in them and not on the organizational structures.

Give a scientist a few hundred thousand dollars (and lots of starvation wage grad students), and it's amazing what he or she can accomplish while industry would still be getting the contracts signed. Oh, and consider the costs and productivity of an Army soldier vs. a Blackwater mercenary. Or a quartermaster (even one who skims a little) vs. Halliburton. Or, even fricking Harvard at $40,000 a year vs. commercial training at $2500 a week.

Public and private should be able to learn from each other. In America, the public sector is willing. The private sector is not; our lapdog MSM's market fetish is so strong that the people have bought it, too, even if, say, the inheritance tax is clearly in the interest of the vast majority, not to mention a prototypical American bulwark against a permanent economic elite.

What can the private sector learn from the public sector? A couple of examples from my experience:
- the value of the unvarnished truth (modern American corporations say they value truth, but their executives really value metrics that they can manipulate)
- a long-term view (but the stock market won't stand for it)

The public sector could learn:
- to end programs that don't work
- to fire employees who don't work (which actually already happens more often than you'd think)

Oddly enough, I talked to the IRS today, and customer service is evident even there. Too bad that so much of American business has abjured customer service as too expensive, as evidenced by its willingness, even eagerness, to fling its customers into high-turnover, low-training, low-resourcefulness customer support in India. (Businesses are run by fads propagated by magazines and consultants for CEOs; those CEOs should learn from the public sector not to grab every management trend as if it would slice bread.)

I mean, seriously, haven't we seen enough of the goddamn CEO model? Isn't Duhbya the end of that fantasy? Or will Mitt Romney ride to its rescue?

Really, doesn't anyone learn from experience any more?

10:37 PM  

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