Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Goldbricks and F-Offs: Do you trust your colleagues (professors) to "watch your back" and contribute to the effort.

In talking with military NCO's I am struck by one thing:

A good fraction (3/4?) of the recruits in this all-volunteer armed services are really only partly capable of being relied upon. That is, would you want them with you on a mission, expecting that they would watch your back and contribute rather than become more a burden than help. They might well be useful for driving or for less urgent tasks and missions, but when things get tough they won't deliver. (By the way, this issue strikes me as much more urgent than women in combat. I also suspect that most officers would not do well in on-the-ground missions.)

My point here is that in any bureaucracy, some fraction of your colleagues are OK, but are not to be relied on when the going gets tough: academics whose scholarly work is not really terrific, whose ability to deliver in class or in committees is not great. The net effect of this is to undermine our excellence and any claims to legitimacy of our appointment and promotion procedures. Again, these underperformers might well do a decent job, but what you need is superior reliable performance.