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Cracks in Georgetown MSB’s Ivory Tower

Summary:
Georgetown’s MSB teaches principles of good management but is not particularly interested in following them. A good illustration is in how we allocate merit raises. (N.B., I get very high merit scores and so currently benefit from the system we have. Nevertheless, it’s a bad system.) Each year, everyone gets a score for Research, Teaching, and Service. These are worth different percentages depending on rank. One’s raise depends on the weighted-average score. 1. The system is ultimately zero-sum. Our scores for each category must round to a 3 out of 5. This means I have a personal and large financial stake in hiring faculty who are bad at publishing, service, and teaching compared to me. When they publish, it costs me money, indeed, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars

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Georgetown’s MSB teaches principles of good management but is not particularly interested in following them. A good illustration is in how we allocate merit raises. (N.B., I get very high merit scores and so currently benefit from the system we have. Nevertheless, it’s a bad system.) Each year, everyone gets a score for Research, Teaching, and Service. These are worth different percentages depending on rank. One’s raise depends on the weighted-average score.

1. The system is ultimately zero-sum. Our scores for each category must round to a 3 out of 5. This means I have a personal and large financial stake in hiring faculty who are bad at publishing, service, and teaching compared to me. When they publish, it costs me money, indeed, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars over my career.

2. The zero-sum mean is relative to department. Each department must maintain the same mean, but there is no comparison between faculties in different disciplines. Some departments publish more and better than others, or have better average teachers. So, people in some strong departments would get higher scores and make more money if they were placed in other weaker departments.

3. We say we care about teaching. But we use SET scores as our only measure of teaching output. SET scores are reliable but invalid, and the evidence against them is now overwhelming.

These are also zero-sum. If I were to wave a magic wand that made everyone else in my department get “bad” SET scores but my scores stayed the same, I would then get a larger raise.

Georgetown MSB’s motto should be: “Do as we say, not as we do.”

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan (Ph.D., 2007, University of Arizona) is Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, and by courtesy, Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Georgetown University, and formerly Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Research, at Brown University. He specializes in political philosophy and applied ethics.

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