Turf Wars

More economic analysis of academic hiring.

Government department chairwoman Anne Sa’adah’s op-ed in the Daily D elicited a repsonse from Jim Hu, who dissects it while offering some advice on the dynamics of hiring professors, firing superfluous administrators, and the like. [link.]

An excerpt:

Thus, an administrator may sincerely believe that it is in the best interest of the university to create new programs and departments with either academic or nonacademic missions. Some of these may even be good ideas. But like government programs, they become self-justifying and they are very hard to kill. Like government programs the efficiency with which they do good is not a major factor in how they’re evaluated. And like government programs, they always want to grow…and promises of growing budgets and turf go with getting people to run these programs.

Only a small fraction of this is connected to the institution of tenure. No one has lifetime tenure in an administrative post, but the bureaucracy is very hard to trim…and trimming makes enemies, while yielding low rewards.

He also provides some biographical information. [link.]