Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Of course, the maverick who can't be told what to do is practically a stock character in journalism

It appears that Harry Fletcher of the probation officers' union, Nick's usual source for matters loranorderical, isn't picking up the phone this week. And so he must move on to other sources; in this case, the pile of "A Touch of Frost" DVDs next to the telly. I am not even sure that the "do it by the book" politician-boss is actually a particularly uniquely British figure, but that's by the by; the fact is that Nick really, genuinely does appear to have got his information about modern management practices in the police force from a work of fiction.

And a Civitas pamphlet about managerialism, and Chris Dillow's book, but both of these sources suffer from a problem which Aaronovitch has regularly identified in his journalism and on which point he is substantially correct - they do rather ignore the fact that things have been getting much better in British public services over the last ten years, not worse. If you measure success in the NHS, the education system and the police force by outcomes (rather than by the complaints of their employee lobbies), then this is pretty undeniable.

It's true, possibly (although a purist would actually probably like some evidence before concluding even this much) that the modern regime of targets, measurement and management has made the public sector a less enjoyable place to work, and that the resulting reduction in employee goodwill has had a financial cost which has needed to be compensated for by higher expenditure.

But frankly, speaking in my current mood as one of those liberals Nick endorses lower down, I am not necessarily sure that this is a bad thing. Although the public service ethos, like the charitable instinct, is intrinsically a very good thing, is it really a reliable way to run a railway? I've always been uneasy about the fact that important services for the poorest people in society have been so totally dependent on the goodwill of moral saints rather than the firmer foundation of a fair day's work for a fair day's pay; also note that, outside the police force and army, the burden of being guilted into working for less than you're worth "for the sake of the community" falls disproportionately on women. If we pay public sector workers something closer to market price and demand more results from them, this can't be counted as definitely a bad idea unless it doesn't work.

And in general, as measured by the crime, exam results, mortality, etc, etc figures, the record of the last ten years ain't bad. So when Nick says that " Despite the increases in taxation and national debt, Britain has not benefited from their selflessness." (and a quick glance at the net debt figures show that this is not really an accurate picture in and of itself), he's wrong.

The thing about fuckers like Dirty Harry, Morse, Frost, House, the Robin Williams character in Dead Poet's Society, etc, is that they are all about proclaiming their unique Whitmanesque spirit and dedication, as against the mindless, petty dead hand of management. But in fact, does anyone ever bother checking up that their claim to "break rules, but get results" is actually true? I'm pretty sure that if you actually added up the numbers, they wouldn't look so good. Ten times out of ten, when someone claims that they want to "just get on and do the job", they mean that they only want to do all the fun parts of the job and leave all the difficult or boring bits to some other poor fucker. Which might or might not be a viable organisational model, but it does leave the question open of how we motivate the poor fucker, something upon which Dillow, Civitas and Nick are basically equally silent[1].

David Ogilvy, among many other very intelligent maxims, nearly all of which have fairly general application, used to say that nearly every person you brought in off the street was probably capable of writing one really fantastic advert. But that this was of basically no use to him professionally, since what he needed was people who could turn out good adverts consistently, and to order. That's the whole underlying problem here - you just can't build any sort of scalable system based on the assumption that important parts of the job will be done by a maverick genius walking to his own personal drumbeat.

This is a really depressing and shameful fact and people have been complaining about this since TS Eliot, since William Morris, since Ned Ludd, but the fact is that nobody's really found a replacement for Taylorism yet and when they do it will be as big a deal as the Industrial Revolution. But in the meantime, we don't do ourselves any particular favours by talking crap about results, or by pretending that knuckling under to producer group lobbies or introducing bullshit voucher systems has anything to do with "democracy".

Endnote: By the way, Nick started his journalistic career in Birmingham in the 1980s. Anyone who covered the same beat as the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad knows perfectly fucking well why it is that the British police today have such a huge and unwieldy burden of paperwork weighing them down.

[1] Actually Chris D, if I understand him right (which I might not since it always seems desperately unconvincing to me) tends to claim to have some sort of silver bullet solution that would get rid of nearly all of the administrative overhead in modern business and public services, by having smaller work units run as workers' co-operatives. Frankly, I think this is putting more of a load on Hayekian spontaneous organisation than it can bear, and needs to be accompanied by something approaching an actual conspiracy theory to explain why this amazing and simple model has never actually been used or worked anywhere. (Employees of the John Lewis Partnership or textiles manufacturers in Mondragon; spare me, please).

57 Comments:

Blogger Graham Day said...

I've always been uneasy about the fact that important services for the poorest people in society have been so totally dependent on the goodwill of moral saints rather than the firmer foundation of a fair day's work for a fair day's pay

I'm not clear why you would be "uneasy" about a situation that hasn't actually been the case for, ummm, well, it's never been the case since the welfare state was created. Nice straw man though...

6/03/2008 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Well it's not a straw man is it; the Bristol Univeristy study Nick Cohen cites is not untypical in finding that the UK public services are subsidised by their employees to the tune of roughly 120m man-hours a year. The fact that schools in particular rely so heavily on unpaid labour is one of the most fundamental things to know about British schools.

6/03/2008 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

If we pay public sector workers something closer to market price and demand more results from them

Has the former of these really happened then?

I'm a little sceptical of the use of the term "pretty undeniable" to describe anything that is not actually demonstrable in a scientific sense. This is partly for a bad reason, to wit that pretty much everything is deniable - including things that are scientifically provable, as a brief tour of the demonstrate should demonstrate, pretty undeniably. But it's partly for a good reason, which is that people have good reason to sceptical of targets-based assessments even though it may suit them to be sceptical about them.

It's not simply a question of employee satisfaction: it's that there are plenty of ways of setting certain targets while ignoring others. (For instance, we may acknowledge Housing Benefit claims more quickly but take longer to assess them - or maybe we assess them more quickly but more of them are turned down, which isn't much use to the people who get turned down. I worked in Social Security for six years which were marked by an increasing use of customer service terminology and a decreasing generosity of benefits: it's not, I think, simply producer interest that made me sceptical about this process.)

I also think that employee perceptions may be of more value than you maybe think. Of course, normally, if a process of change occurs, one would expect people to be upset about it before it starts and in its early stages...but at the same time, one would expect them, if it is effective, to be happier once it's worked through, because a major source of employee satisfaction is the ability to do a good job and deliver results. And I therefore think that if the results were really happening, it's just possible that the employees would feel better about it.

I don't think that has all that much to do with the desire of librarians or teachers to be Harry Callahan: I just think you're operating from a premise which is not really as clear as you'd like to to be. Of course it's true that paperwork needs to be done and that there are people who want to avoid responsbilities, which, if they do, will have to be taken on by other people instead. But I think these people are the nine-to-fivers rather than the vocational people. And where they're not, they're precisely the people Dillow doesn't like, i.e. management superstars who spend all their time launching initiatives and making a fucking name for themselves while other people in the background try frantically to clean up the mess.

Incidentally, what's your beef with Mondragon? It seems to work pretty well as a model, but it was set up in exceptional circumstances that aren't easily replicated.

6/03/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Has the former of these really happened then?

on this point, definitely yes; public sector pay deals have been substantially ahead of general wage inflation since 1997, so there has been real catch-up (particularly in the NHS). And people like Nick Cohen love to whinge on about performance related pay deals and about how they don't really measure this, or they can be fiddled by that, but they are real money that gets paid out and can be spent in shops.

management superstars who spend all their time launching initiatives and making a fucking name for themselves while other people in the background try frantically to clean up the mess

See, I think this is just a totally unfair way to describe someone like, say, the Chief Constable of North Wales, who all the old-fashioned coppers hate, but who, by concentrating on largely technical and managerial methods to optimise the enforcement of speed limits, has almost certainly managed to stop a lot more people being killed than Inspector Morse ever did.

And I think that when we're talking about crime statistics at least, it really does show that you have to look at the statistics because people's perceptions can be totally, totally incorrect. The majority of the British population believe things about crime rates which definitely aren't true.

6/03/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Graham Day said...

Every organisation/company benefits from this kind of "unpaid labour". The point is that public sector employees do their job because they're paid for it (usually not enough, but they are paid for it). They don't do it because they're "moral saints", and there's no expectation of them to be "moral saints" - which is your straw man, BTW.

6/03/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Is the "maverick syndrome" an Anglo-Saxon construct? It would be interesting to know if it had a similar importance in countries like Germany or Sweden, where systems work and management is actually competent.

6/03/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"public sector pay deals have been substantially ahead of general wage inflation since 1997, so there has been real catch-up (particularly in the NHS)"

Well I haven't had a single pay award in line with inflation since I started work in the NHS in 2003. Presumably 1997-2003 must have been a golden era?

And the education system seems utterly chaotic to me compared to what it was 15 years ago.

Igor Belanov

6/03/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Every organisation/company benefits from this kind of "unpaid labour".

no, not to anything like the extent to which the British public sector does.

The point is that public sector employees do their job because they're paid for it

No, they do lots of work without being paid for it, because they think that the job is intrinsically (morally) important to do to a certain standard. That's the point here. The existence of a "public sector service ethos" is not fiction.

6/03/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Graham Day said...

no, not to anything like the extent to which the British public sector does.

Prove it. And while you're about it, prove your earlier statement re. public sector pay and general wage inflation.


No, they do lots of work without being paid for it, because they think that the job is intrinsically (morally) important to do to a certain standard.

You have a psychic link to every public sector employee in Britain now? Or you think that a desire to do the job well is specific to, say, social workers?

6/03/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

See, I think this is just a totally unfair way to describe someone like, say, the Chief Constable of North Wales, who all the old-fashioned coppers hate

Of course it is, but believe me, it wasn't people like him who I was describing. It's people who launch initiatives without producing results who really get my goat. You might think they'd get found out pretty quickly - and you might be wrong.


because people's perceptions can be totally, totally incorrect. The majority of the British population believe things about crime rates which definitely aren't true.

No question at all about it: but I wouldn't necessarily relate that to what I said about perceptions of work and whether one is delivering better than one used to.

public sector pay deals have been substantially ahead of general wage inflation since 1997

I'd be curious to see statistics on this, and some reasonably sophisticated ones: the reason I ask is because surely for much of this time there's been a cap on public-sector wage deals which has not existed on private-sector deals. Of course there are ways to address that (changing how spine points work, for instance) but it still seems a little counter-intuitive to me.

6/03/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

1999 was the big year, when the pledge to keep to the Tory aggregate spending pledges expired. Also note that the big increases in NHS wages have come through the equal pay settlements and the productivity-based pay agreements with GPs (which everyone treats as if they were the spawn of Satan but there you go), so if you weren't a female ancillary worker or a GP you would have missed them.

I don't know what you mean about education though; against your assessment that it's "chaotic", we've got more people achieving more qualifications than ever before.

6/03/2008 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Graham, here's a link to the Bristol University press release on Sarah Smith's study and frankly that's as much unpaid research assistance as you're going to get until you're prepared to be a little bit nicer. I don't have much of the public sector service ethos, you see.

6/03/2008 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Graham Day said...

You don't have much in the way of evidence either, do you? If Cohen pontificated on such flimsy foundations you would (rightly) be having a go at him.

6/03/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

As you say, sophisticated statistics are really needed because the jobs are very different and so is the use of performance awards etc (they've changed the survey several times to try and deal with this better), but you also need to factor in that over the last ten years, public sector employees have, by and large, kept their final salary pension schemes which makes a big difference. The Institute for Fiscal Studies is my favourite think tank, due to its relentless insistence on knowing what it's talking about. The maths is pretty hair in this one, but if you scroll right down to the charts at the end, you can pretty much see that 1997-present has been a rising period for the public-private wage differential no matter how you measure it.

6/03/2008 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Graham, have you read that research piece? Me and Nick are working on the basis of the *same* evidence here, it is quite good and I am not criticising him for this specific point he makes, which is correct. I will, however, shortly begin to criticise you, for precisely this failing of not looking at the evidence.

6/03/2008 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I confess I'm struggling a bit with the charts. I'm a librarian not a statistician, so I don't know if I'm missing something, but is the meaning of the figures running vertically on the left explained somewhere? Would it tell me the answer if I read the whole piece?

I'm quite prepared to believe that the impact of the closure of final pension schemes is going to be substantial when it works through.

6/03/2008 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Graham Day said...

Fair enough, I can see why you could draw the conclusions you do from this study. I was probably being a bit sharp before.

I don't agree with it though. On a cursory glance, the study seems to a) select "not for profit" employees from sectors that are more likely to carry out "unpaid overtime" and b) draw psychic conclusions ("pro-social behaviour") as to why it happens.

All told, I prefer the TUC view.

http://www.worksmart.org.uk/workyourproperhoursday/

However, I still maintain that your "moral saints" bit is a straw man...

6/03/2008 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Quite a lot of unpaid overtime exists in the private sector, if truth be told. Restaurant and retail staff working after hours because they'll be sacked if they don't, that sort of thing.

6/03/2008 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

they do rather ignore the fact that things have been getting much better in British public services over the last ten years...If you measure success in the NHS, the education system and the police force by outcomes... then this is pretty undeniable.

Of course its bloody deniable. In education nobody can even agree on what success is, or what education is for. There's no clear consensus on how you measure success in these areas, or what techniques you should use. All you can really say that organisations are largely meeting the targets set by the government, though whether these are appropriate is debatable. In some areas things have got worse (some of the cancer targets), and this seems to be partially due to the targets distorting things. In other areas they have got better. And in other areas all that's really happened is that workers on the ground have got good at artificially beating targets, possibly to the detriment of their real work. Sometimes the targets have been a distraction. Its a mixed bag, and there's not really any good overall data, though research from other countries would suggest that on the whole it has probably been detrimental and shifted the focus of workers to meeting artificial targets. One of the real problems with targets is that it is very hard to set meaningful and appropriate targets centrally, and by the time you get the data back it has been bleached of all meaningful contextual data. Two policeman may have identical arrest records, but policeman one has gone after serious criminals, while the second has simply gone after soft targets. Locally set targets can be better (though you have to find some way to insulate them from political pressures), but then you have to have a government that is secure enough to devolve power down. We don't have that, and the record of Labour has largely been one of distrust - the micromanager from hell.

I agree, btw, that all three organisations can be massively improved and modernised. I would also agree that the workers on the whole tend to be quite conservative, though given the re-organisations that teachers and the NHS have suffered, who can blame them. Since the 80s, teachers have basically suffered permanent revolution.

Education is incidentally the one I know the most about. What has happened under Labour is a collapse in the number of students studying science, the elimination of the requirement to do one language GCSE, more and more of the curriculum being squeezed out to do more and more tests and a culture which incentivises teachers to teach to the test. We also have a targets system that incentivises schools to exclude working class kids wherever possible. Reading standards have been raised some (though they're still poor), but less kids read independently. We also have spent a lot of money on computers, when there is no evidence that computers make any difference to teaching outcomes. None whatsoever.

Now granted some people can work against this kind of system and do good work, but it takes guts and the public spirit ethos that you are so dismissive of. The way to get on in most organisations is to play the game, hit the targets however meaningless and take the easy and short term route (particularly if the targets change regularly, and you're measured on short term, rather than long term, results). Longer term and more sophisticated approaches may pay off ten fold, but they're riskier. If you fail playing the game you'll probably be okay - fail doing something novel and you're probably fucked.

It's true, possibly ... that the modern regime of targets, measurement and management has made the public sector a less enjoyable place to work, and that the resulting reduction in employee goodwill has had a financial cost which has needed to be compensated for by higher expenditure.

I think what I find so abhorrent about your posts on managerialism and education, is that you seem to think workers are robots. A teacher, or a policeman, who hates, or is even just bored by, their job will be less effective. They will simply go through the motions, bore their pupils, ignore details that aren't in their job description. More money cannot compensate for this and their is ample academic research to support this.

I've always been uneasy about the fact that important services for the poorest people in society have been so totally dependent on the goodwill of moral saints rather than the firmer foundation of a fair day's work for a fair day's pay; also note that, outside the police force and army, the burden of being guilted into working for less than you're worth "for the sake of the community" falls disproportionately on women. If we pay public sector workers something closer to market price and demand more results from them, this can't be counted as definitely a bad idea unless it doesn't work.

I would agree that public servants should be compensated fairly for their labour, but I can't see that this has much to do with the rest of your argument. As for the reasons why. Well woman are generally paid poorly for woman's work whether they work in the private, or public sector. And there are political reasons, as you know full well, why public sector workers are paid less well than their private sector counterparts. The moral arguments are simply used to try and disguise the real reasons. As for demanding more results from public sector workers - again, its hard to define what this actually would mean in practice. And the police are paid quite well.

As for overtime. I'm unconvinced. There are plenty of private sector areas where unpaid overtime is the norm. Investment banking is one of them, as presumably you know. Others would including computing, consultancy, law, R&D, the media. I'm sure I could think of others given five minutes. I don't think its a good thing, but I think its part of the larger culture.

The thing about fuckers like Dirty Harry...etc, is that they are all about proclaiming their unique Whitmanesque spirit and dedication, as against the mindless, petty dead hand of management.

Excluding Nick Cohen, this is a straw man. Nobody is making that argument that we need "Whitmanesque" spirits, or rule breakers. Simply that the current, and rather stultifying, system deskills workers so that they are cogs in a poorly designed system. Other countries seem to manage quite well without doing this. The whole point about tailorisation was that it was first and foremost about removing power from the worker, by reducing the job to the lowest common denominator. Now it turns out that this can work okay in some industries (though the most successful car company in the world doesn't practice it, so its merits may be overstated), but it was never primarily about efficiency, or effectiveness.

David Ogilvy was making a quite different point to the one you have him making. He was simply pointing out that most people can't consistently, and predictably, be creative. Its a rare skill. However, advertising is an industry utterly reliant upon those skills. You can't taylorise advertising, though you can certainly manage it effectively. Applying the management practices of the NHS/education and possibly the policeforce to any kind of creative agency would make it impossible to do creative work.

but the fact is that nobody's really found a replacement for Taylorism yet

This simply isn't true. There are a wide range of different managerial techniques practiced all over the world. One of them, the Toyota principal, is currently becoming fashionable in the UK. These management/organisational techniques may largely be unknown in the UK (and to you), but that's a different matter.

6/03/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Of course it's true that paperwork needs to be done and that there are people who want to avoid responsbilities, which, if they do, will have to be taken on by other people instead.

Well one of the things about reforms in education is that it has led to an explosion in paper work of questionable value. Teachers may complain about marking, but they largely do it. Its boring, but important. When good employees complain about responsibilities it is normally beacuse they can't see the point of them. If there is a point to the forms that teachers have to fill in, nobody has communicated it very clearly. And if there isn't...

6/03/2008 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

See, I think this is just a totally unfair way to describe someone like, say, the Chief Constable of North Wales, who all the old-fashioned coppers hate, but who, by concentrating on largely technical and managerial methods to optimise the enforcement of speed limits, has almost certainly managed to stop a lot more people being killed than Inspector Morse ever did.

Daniel: when people are complaining about management superstars they do not mean people like him. They mean slick fuckers, who spout managerial gibberish and are very good at telling their managers what they want to hear, playing office politics and tend to make their employees lives hell as they climb the greasy pole and issue meaningless edicts. They do not mean people who are good at organisation (which management superstars almost never are), who are typically liked by their employees. They make it easy to get on with the job, and allow their employees to focus on it. Shame they're a rarity in this country, and often lose out to the superstars.

And I agree that people who shake up organisations are never popular, particularly if they are targeting something the employee culture doesn't value (like speed limits). The NHS definitely needed reorganising, as did the policeforce. But that doesn't necessarily mean that any reorganisation is necessarily a good thing. As with Iraq, its quite easy to make a bad situation worse.

And I think that when we're talking about crime statistics at least, it really does show that you have to look at the statistics because people's perceptions can be totally, totally incorrect. The majority of the British population believe things about crime rates which definitely aren't true.

Well this is true, but its also true that a fair chunk of the crime statistics are not terribly reliable, or as definitive as you seem to be pretending. And even if the crime rates were coming down, that might not have anything to do with police reorganisation. that might simply have been the trend.

See, I think this is just a totally unfair way to describe someone like, say, the Chief Constable of North Wales, who all the old-fashioned coppers hate, but who, by concentrating on largely technical and managerial methods to optimise the enforcement of speed limits, has almost certainly managed to stop a lot more people being killed than Inspector Morse ever did.

Daniel: when people are complaining about management superstars they do not mean people like him. They mean slick fuckers, who spout managerial gibberish and are very good at telling their managers what they want to hear, playing office politics and tend to make their employees lives hell as they climb the greasy pole and issue meaningless edicts. They do not mean people who are good at organisation (which management superstars almost never are), who are typically liked by their employees. They make it easy to get on with the job, and allow their employees to focus on it. Shame they're a rarity in this country, and often lose out to the superstars.

And I agree that people who shake up organisations are never popular, particularly if they are targeting something the employee culture doesn't value (like speed limits). The NHS definitely needed reorganising, as did the policeforce. But that doesn't necessarily mean that any reorganisation is necessarily a good thing. As with Iraq, its quite easy to make a bad situation worse.

And I think that when we're talking about crime statistics at least, it really does show that you have to look at the statistics because people's perceptions can be totally, totally incorrect. The majority of the British population believe things about crime rates which definitely aren't true.

Well this is true, but its also true that a fair chunk of the crime statistics are not terribly reliable, or as definitive as you seem to be pretending. And even if the crime rates were coming down, that might not have anything to do with police reorganisation. that might simply have been the trend.

6/03/2008 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

And in other areas all that's really happened is that workers on the ground have got good at artificially beating targets, possibly to the detriment of their real work

I don't like the way that the word "artificial" has been attached to the word "targets". A lot of these targets are based on real things. I also don't agree that it's difficult to measure progress in education; it's one of the few industries that measures results every year and has done for centuries.

Also, for a lot of the comparisons the metrics I'm using aren't ones which have targets attached to them. Nobody's got a target for the overall crime rates but they've got better.

And there are political reasons, as you know full well, why public sector workers are paid less well than their private sector counterparts.

I don't know this full well and it's not obvious that it's true; there are surprisingly few jobs in which public sector workers have direct private sector counterparts doing the same job. Private sector teachers earn about the same as public sector ones (although it is impossible to convince teachers of this fact as they all see themselves as being broadly comparable to a classics master at Eton rather than someone doing TEFL). Private sector nurses earn slightly less than public sector ones, as the IFS study shows. On average and cleaned up as much as poss, the public sector premium appears to be positive, not negative. But the nature of the jobs done is so different that I don't think this is really meaningful.

Simply that the current, and rather stultifying, system deskills workers so that they are cogs in a poorly designed system. Other countries seem to manage quite well without doing this.

? ever been to a French lycee? that's the definition of cogs-in-a-wheel (it bores the students to the point of rioting) and it works fine. Or the Japanese civil service? All the examples of other countries where there's more successful delivery of public services are ones with more prescriptive central control, not less.

There are a wide range of different managerial techniques practiced all over the world. One of them, the Toyota principal, is currently becoming fashionable in the UK

You are kidding me now, please tell me you're kidding me. FW Taylor is revered as a demigod in Japanese management. His "Principles of Scientific Management" sold more than a million copies in Japanese translation. Shigeo Shingo, who has as good a claim as anyone to have invented the Toyota Production System (I'm assuming this is what we're talking about here) as a management philosophy, explicitly recognises its intellectual debt to Taylor.

I suspect that you might be thinking about kaizen rather than TPS here, but even then, how can you possibly make continuous improvements unless you're very closely monitoring all sorts of inputs and outputs, and that doesn't really differ all that much from having targets.

6/03/2008 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger mcgazz said...

AFAICT public sector pay is higher at the bottom end of the pay ladder, but private sector pay is higher at the top. Or to put it another way, the difference between the highest paid and the lowest paid members of an organisation is greater in the private sector.

Public sector office monkeys get slightly more than their private sector counterparts, NHS nurses do slightly better than private ones, teachers are about the same (my missus has taught in both and can confirm this), but skilled professionals and managers earn a lot more in the commerical sector. I work in the public sector with IT/science professionals and the loss of staff to the better-paying private sector is pretty steady.

6/03/2008 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Sounds about right - then you've got lots of professionals like social workers etc, where there isn't any direct comparison and some of them are clearly gifted people who could earn a lot more in management jobs in industry but some of them are unemployable elsewhere, and the net net is that (with due deference to the IFS guys who have built the best model they could) it's hard to say anything particularly meaningful across the broad categories.

I am also challenging the twice-expressed view that Richard Brunstrom isn't a very controversial figure in the public sector; a lot of other policemen, particularly Police Federation types, regard him as a bright-eyed MBA type who knows nothing about proper thief-taking. The Gene Hunt element in the Force shouldn't be underestimated.

6/03/2008 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I am also challenging the twice-expressed view that Richard Brunstrom isn't a very controversial figure in the public sector

Are you sure that view has actually been expressed? As I read it (and indeed wrote it) people weren't discussing at all whether he was controversial: they were discussing a different question, which is whether he is or is not the sort of "management superstar" to whom they object, and concluding that he was not.

6/03/2008 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

For what it's worth, when I talk about "management superstars", I'm probably not talking about people quite that high in the stratosphere anyway: I've never been high up enough to see them. The people I'm thinking about (although actually, "superheads" would probably qualify too) can be anywhere within an organisation except the very top and the very bottom: they tend to make a name for themselves and attract rave botice for their dynaism, which in practice involves attending a lot of meetings and, as I say, launching a lot of initatives. When people express scepticism about aforesaid initiatives they are dismissed as backward-looking, dinosaurs, and so on and yet those same people tend to have to clear up the mess which is left when our superstar moves on - having imprssed people at another organisation with all their dynamism and fresh thinking.

There's a lot of this about: which doesn't mean that there aren't people who display dynamism, fresh thinking and so on. Hurrah for these people. But boo to the mindset which assumes that objections to public sector change are necessarily rooted in conservatism rather than in experienced people knowing what they are talking about.

(I've been trying without success to locate a letter I wrote to the Observer when Will Hutton wrote a piece praising the chap from Waterstone's for his report on libraries - in the course of which piece Hutton made precisely that assumption and therefore made no effort to find out what librarians actually knew that the report did not, preferring indtead to assume we were all fuddy-duddies.)

6/03/2008 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Surely the problem isn't with "targets" per se, but is actually something more like Goodhart's Law - the targets aren't measures of results but of intermediate activity (i.e. aspirins handed out rather than reduced numbers of heart attacks).

6/03/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Last point until at least tonight, and apologies for doing several in a row. One problem is that the public sector does many things which are not measurable - this is partly why, of course, they're in the public sector (which in turn is, indeed, why there very often are not direct public/private sector comparables). It is also tends to deal with functions which, while they may "add value" to an enormous degree, the market economy finds difficulty in recognising that value and hence rewarding it.

Now this doesn't mean that many things within their functions can't be measured - BB writes above that they can, and are, and of course this is right. Moreover, as any NHS manager will tell you (and they are far from all of them bad guys) unless you can measure things you can't really tell what you are doing with any accuracy, and if you can't do that then you cannot allocate budgets properly and so you waste a lot of money - much of the waste coming, indeed, in the chopping and changing that this entails. Pissing a lot of money up the wall doesn't benefit anybody except the people up whose walls we manage to piss it, and I think they'll manage without.

Nevertheless, it is also the case that there are lots of things we can't really measure and there is always a very great danger that we will divert human resources to those things that we can, in order to produce results that are apparently better, even if in truth they are not. What to do? It's not really a problem with a solution. But you do, I think, at some point, have to rely on the people who actually so the job to do it from their own knowledge and experience and concern for what they do. And if target-setting detracts fro mthat process then you may very well, in practice, do more harm than good.

Oh, before I go (I am, as it happens, working a market stall all evening) management theory. I think it's fair to say, from several discussions on different blogs, that I have less time for this than I think BB does. It's not without value, not at all, but the further it deports from immediate practicaltiy, the more I reckon it serves a quasi-religious function, which involves enabling managers to believe they are doing something great than what they actually do. Some of the weird stuff in Charles Handy could be recycled by a Californian cult.

6/03/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

But boo to the mindset which assumes that objections to public sector change are necessarily rooted in conservatism rather than in experienced people knowing what they are talking about.

Yes to this (I've said the same myself when in different moods), but ...

Surely the problem isn't with "targets" per se, but is actually something more like Goodhart's Law - the targets aren't measures of results but of intermediate activity (i.e. aspirins handed out rather than reduced numbers of heart attacks).

... also yes to this but ...

but Goodhart didn't mean to suggest that monetary policy per se was impossible (although Edward Prescott does think it is). While the Hayekian argument about tacit and institutional knowledge is a powerful and important critique and in itself a good reason to be sceptical of any particular reorganisation or intiative, it's possible to take a good thing too far. This is what I think Chris Dillow actually does and as far as I can see he turns it into a general impossibility claim about management and measurement which doesn't stack up against the evidence.

I tend to come in on the side of the managers when I see this critique being made because a) it's usually accompanied by the conspiracy theory about how managers keep their jobs and b) because I don't think an honest attempt is made very often to assess what the actual results have been and this tends to lead to some quite pernicious places.

By which I mean that it's clear where Nick is going with this; the same place that Chris, Tim Worstall and Michael Gove are going. If you're happy to assert without evidence that the government services are wasteful and don't deliver results, and you've decided ahead of time that any changes and improvements made to them won't work and will make things worse, then what do you end up saying, except that the whole thing's hopeless and might as well be turned over to the market?

I mean, this is basically the socialist planning debate repeating itself as farce isn't it; if we're really going to end up saying that there's no basis for assessing the performance of a service which doesn't have marketable outputs, then we're going to end up marketising a lot more of the non-market sector, aren't we.

Oh yeah and c) because I like an argument.

6/03/2008 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

... there is always a very great danger that we will divert human resources to those things that we can, in order to produce results that are apparently better, even if in truth they are not.

The trivial example is call centres that manage answer a call within 30 seconds 99% of the time. The target is a good idea, but in practice we all hate call centres.

One of the only reasons I still read the Observer is Simon Caulkin, who never ceases to emphasise that you mustn't confuse targets with what you are trying to achieve. It's a metric of something, but not an end in itself.

6/03/2008 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

My letter turns out not to be very interesting in retrospect (it was obviously cut quite a bit). I think the important point was that Coates/Hutton (and Janet Idiot-Porter, as I recall, in another newspaper) were quite happy to claim that the reason libraries don't open late often enough was that librarians didn't want them to - when in fact, had either enquired with the relevant professional body, they'd have found out that librarians had spent years and years saying that this was what we wanted and needed to do.

6/03/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Well I'd defend call centres. I've always thought First Direct was a great leap forward in customer satisfaction (within its sphere), much better than having a 'friendly local bank manager' and it's basically only a call centre attached to HSBC.

6/03/2008 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Direct Line too - although call centres are apparently no fun at all to work in (although, say, textiles manufacturing is not exactly a barrel of laughs), and we do all hate them, it turns out that we're prepared to live with them if it means we get stuff cheaper. Which is the sort of thing that you only find out by measurement, because customers are lying bastards who always claim that they are prepared to pay for service.

6/03/2008 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Agree: with the Morse/House stuff. When left to do the basic form-filling, checking, processing stuff, academics routinely fuck up. When it is taken off them and given to specialists, academics whinge and complain and stigmatize administrators.

Disagree (somewhat) on targets and improvement: My limited experience of one sector is that targets have led to the massive incentivization of some activities (pumping out monographs that no-one reads) and the disincentivization of others (teaching students). There's no doubt in my mind that students get a worse education now than 10-20 years ago, but that this doesn't show up in the numbers of first-class degrees etc (rather the contrary) because we've adjusted the standard.

Actually, on that point, there's been consistent pressure from senior managers over the years on the lines of "we are a world-class university" and if a first means the same everywhere then we should be giving more than other places (because we are better). So we should be giving more ....

6/04/2008 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

it turns out that we're prepared to live with them if it means we get stuff cheaper.

That might be true: it's also true that we don't really get the choice, because the big banks chose to go this way anyway and we have to go where they go. And, for that matter, that after a while they started having to claim that they didn't rely on call centres, hence the advertising campaign that Nat West ran a couple of years ago to this effect.

This particularly pissed me off as, having banked with Nat West all my adult life without any problems at all, the service absolutely disintegrated as soon as they started doing this using call centres rather than individual branches.

Also, anybody who's had any experience of trying to chase up problems with the Post Office (under the evil Adam Crozier, who may very well be the sort of person I was referring to above) will be familiar with the process by which you call one day and get their call centre in Plymouth, next day Stoke, day after Belfast. And of course nobody has any record of the call you made before. Presumably the theory is that it's more efficient and therefore problems are dealt with more quickly: but it also means you can't actually chase things up and that complex problems can be shunted aside almost indefinitely.

Part of the problem with saying that customers are lying when they say they'll pay more for better service is that there isn't always a service that's a bit better for a bit more - there's a race to the bottom in which everybody cuts their costs to stay alive, and the only alternatives are much much more expensive. Anyone with any experience of using courier firms may like to confirm this. Inevitably you'll stop using the first one in frustration at the service: inevitably you'll find that the second and third aren't any better....

On public/private comparisons - I mentioned the Post Office above and I have to say that if what happened to letter delivery under Crozier, and a gradual proces of privatisation, had happened as a result of an opposite process, the papers would have been absolutely full of horror stories every day. When I was living in Brixton I - and a lot of other people - eventually started having all my valuable mail sent to my work address because theft (or "loss") at the local sorting office had reached such incredible proportions. So had misdelivery. This was manifestly due to the wholesale casualisation of the workforce. But this isn't the story the papers like to tell, so they didn't tell it.

6/04/2008 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I don't know whether those problems are intrinsic to call centres though, well-run ones keep records of previous calls and work quite well. Banks are funny ones because people fear the costs of moving them, probably rightly. First Direct is a vastly better (online or telephone, at least) bank than say Natwest (I've used both) but my partner doesn't switch from Natwest because we both expect it'd involve weeks of chasing up unpaid direct debits and so on. Apparently these things are now much more automatic but I don't know if that's true.

I can see how for small businesses call centre banking could be very bad, though.

6/04/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

I guess that call centres were a bad example, because I too have had mixed experiences with them [memo to self - engage brain before posting]. When they are well organised, with skilled staff and their function is clear, then they can work well. When they are just introduced to cut costs, well we know the result.

But the gist of my post remains. The importance is not the target, but the end users actual experience.

6/04/2008 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

While I'm still boring on - if I still wrote about football for the occasional cheque as I used to years ago, I would be inclined to write a piece discussing various disastrous examples of financial incompetence, fraud, corruption, inefficiency and overspending in the football sector and finish with a demand that it all be privatised....

6/04/2008 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Call centres can be okay to work in, and interestingly its the more humane ones that callers tend to be the most satisfied with. Turns out if you treat your staff like people, rather than machines, they can even be a useful (and cheap) source of marketing information and sometimes even a profit centre in their own right.

Which is the sort of thing that you only find out by measurement, because customers are lying bastards who always claim that they are prepared to pay for service.

Sigh. They're not lying bastards, its simply that if you ask people about an abstract good (service doesn't mean anyting in itself) they'll always say they want it. Its not a meaningful question, and the fact that marketers still ask these kinds of questions is why marketing is largely a pointless profession. People don't thikn about service in that way - the trick is to present questions (or rather situations) in such a way that it relates to how people live their daily lives, or use observation, or roleplay. Which is actually quite fun, but I digress. Quantitative information in itself gives you fairly misleading information, though it can be used with qualitative data of the right kind to triangulate something meaningful. This falls into the category of what I do (in computers, but principal is the same), rather than what I pontificate about, incidentally.

I don't have a problem with measurement, I have a problem with how measurement has been used in the UK. The thing about the Toyota method (and its not that unusual, its simply that its got high visibility at the moment) is that they don't simply go and have a group of centralised beaureacrats going in and measuring stuff in splendid isolation. They use a mixture of techniques, they ask staff who are doing the work (who will always have a local expertise unavailable to outsiders), and they test their measurements. These measurements are used to test incremental improvements, improvements that local staff will have been consulted on (not because we have to make them happy, though Toyota isn't against that, but because they probably have a few good ideas of their own). There's also a clear distinction, which seems to be lost in the UK, between measurements and targets (whereas the two have been conflated, which causes all kinds of problems). The targets are more general, and a range of different types of measurements are used to try and assess how successfully those targets have been met. These targets can also originate from anywhere within in the organisation, though obviously they are controllex centrally. There's also a fairly high degree of team autonomy, and a focus on the type of work, that's alien to classic Taylorism. You can find similar approaches in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and probably elsewhere. Measurements are a tool, not the goal.

In the UK, measurements are the targets, are usually set in response to Tabloid stories/public perceptions and are used with a combination of carrots and sticks that make them unreliable as measurements (if your bonus/budget will be set by five numbers, you will damn well get those numbers). There's not been an attempt to use them as a way of testing incremental improvements, or experiments/innovations (which you would get in the Toyota system, for example). I don't have time to go into this in more detail

A couple more things:
1) Teachers are not against change, they're against the changes that have been imposed upon them. They were originally quite favourable to what the government was suggesting, and they were very supportive of the proposed changes in examination and curriculum (which the government backed out of, ignoring their own expert commission, because of a Daily Mail campaign).
2) The British system has a central curriculum. There's more choice than the French system (which probably isn't a good thing, and has helped drive down the examination standards), on the other hand we're now moving towards centrally imposed lesson plans which they don't have in France. Teachers have largely been in favour of a standardised curriculum, though perhaps not the one we have now which drops languages, and most of science. And the main reason that the French system is better is that they teach everyone, rather than simply the top 25-35% as we do (who get a perfectly decent education).
3) also don't agree that it's difficult to measure progress in education; it's one of the few industries that measures results every year and has done for centuries.
And these measurements are reliable , consistent and robust? No change in the way things are examined, what is examined? No change in curriculum? This simply isn't true. Perhaps if our education system had stayed the same for the last 10-20 years there'd be some truth to this, but its in permanent flux.
4) Nobody's got a target for the overall crime rates but they've got better.
And how does that relate to changes in policing? We have no idea, we don't even know if they have any connection.

Oh, and do you really think that school teachers are equivalent to an EFL teacher? Could you hold them in more contempt?

6/04/2008 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Cian, I really think you're mixed up between Toyota Production System and kaizen. Toyota do have incremental change programs and total quality, but what they're famous for is inventing lean production, and that is pretty much the definition of something that has to be implemented top down by a centralised planning staff or not at all.

Also, it has to be remembered that some workers are shit; when BMW took over the British Leyland works, you can bet your bottom dollar that they didn't wander round getting all the employees' ideas about how they could have input into making incremental changes to the worst car plant in the world.

In the UK, measurements are the targets, are usually set in response to Tabloid stories/public perceptions and are used with a combination of carrots and sticks that make them unreliable as measurements

There's a whole load of anecdote about this but I am not convinced that it's remotely representative. Most local government targets appear to me to be perfectly sensible measures of output.

6/04/2008 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's only 95% a pointless profession, but nobody knows which 95%...

6/04/2008 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Also, it has to be remembered that some workers are shit; when BMW took over the British Leyland works, you can bet your bottom dollar that they didn't wander round getting all the employees' ideas about how they could have input into making incremental changes to the worst car plant in the world.

I suspect that the managers and workers at BL deserved each other. This is a pointless argument, because the work systems that Cian is talking about are developed mutually over decades. You could make a similar argument about imposing democracy on Iraq.

As an aside, I would bet that what BMW didn't do was to start making plans to asset strip the company to feather their own nest, like the Crozier-a-like managers at Rover.

6/04/2008 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I think one other problem with the Dillow anti-managerial line is it sometimes has to be stretched desperately to fit the facts. Tesco is clearly a well-run company, so it has to be the case that managerialism has no role at Tesco, and Terry Leahy is talking to the shopgirls every day on how they would make the store better.

6/04/2008 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous steven said...

According to the book Super Crunchers, which I rely on shamelessly in such contexts, US schoolteachers really hate the "Direct Instruction" method of teaching reading and basic maths, because the lessons are basically prescripted for them, and so there is no room for teacherly creativity etc.

However, the statistics apparently show that DI just is a more effective method of inculcating those basic skills.

(I don't know if it's been tried in the UK yet.)

Anecdotally, btw, I am quite sure that there is a culture of unpaid overtime specific to public service, as a member of my family is in that sector, so I have little patience for those who deny it, for all that the plural of anecdote is not data, etc.

6/04/2008 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

However, the statistics apparently show that DI just is a more effective method of inculcating those basic skills.

with a lot of those statistics you need to be careful as quite a lot of them are basically marketing material for commercial DI packages. But it is certainly true that any time you get a situation in which people actually have to be taught specific bits of information, so that they know them, in a reasonably short time (written tests for driving licences, intensive language courses, the CFA exams etc), they basically always end up going down something like the DI model. There's a legitimate question about whether passing tests and absorbing lists of facts really is the goal of education, but it's definitely *a* goal of education. Personally, I think that Gradgrind is one of the most unfairly maligned characters in the whole of Dickens (and that's up against some stiff competition).

6/05/2008 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

by the way, the really interesting thing about that study is that the public sector unpaid overtime culture appears to come about as a result of people who have a tendency to do unpaid overtime ending up in public sector jobs, rather than people going into public sector jobs and then starting to do unpaid overtime. People who go from public to private sector in the study do nearly as much unpaid overtime in their new jobs.

6/05/2008 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

DD:
Toyota Production System is typically classified as an example of Kaizen, so I'm not sure what your point is there. It just means continuous improvement.

Autonomous is probably the wrong word for the Toyota Production System. I'm not sure what the word for it is, but its not a top down system with orders flowing from the centre to be implemented by worker drones. Maybe semi-autonomous, with guidance coming from the top, though messages are two way. From a systems perspective it shares many features with a hive model. There's a shared culture, and there are shared rules of behaviour/codes of conduct. But again, this is more a hive model of production, than a centrally controlled one.

what they're famous for is inventing lean production, and that is pretty much the definition of something that has to be implemented top down by a centralised planning staff or not at all.

No, what you're saying is that you don't know of any way to implement lean production without having a centralised planning staff, and so you're assuming that its impossible. There's nothing axiomatic about this. The best you can manage is a proof by absence.

Aspects of the Toyota Way which are not centrally controlled:
1) Each process tells its predecessor that more material is needed. i.e. this is a local, rather than central, decision. And this goes all the way down to individual work units.
2) Anybody can stop the process to signal quality issues (and researchers have noted examples of this).
3) Manufacturing units establish their own requirements for new technology, rather than having it imposed upon them (contrast this with the way that computers have been imposed in education, NHS and the police).
4) Its also been noted that decisions in Toyota are quite slow, as everyone affected and able to affect the decision is consulted, with an emphasis on improving the decision. There is a very definite culture (which is shared in companies with strong, European style, unions) that believes the workers have local and tactical knowledge that needs to be tapped. My professional perspective on the NHS IT project is that a major reason for its comparative failure is because this was not done.

I believe that one of the things BMW did when they took over production plants was to bring some of their existing workers over to help both with suggestions in how it could be improved and retraining. And I suspect that they also spent quite a bit of time going round looking at what workers did, what workers thought of what they did and how the plant worked so as to better understand it. And BL had some of the worst management in the world, massively outdated technology, etc, etc - so pinning the blame on the workers is hardly fair, or relevant. The whole point about the better managed companies is that they invest a lot of money and training in their workers - BL notoriously didn't.

I don't know enough about local government targets to comment on them. I imagine some targets are quite easy to set, and reasonably fair. Rubbish collection for example, though there are always going to be local variations due to quality of services, access to landfill, etc. Other targets are impossible to set on a national basis. Social services? Council housing? They're pretty hard to set on an individual and local basis, let alone a national one.
Policing targets and NHS targets seem to be set more on the basis of perception, than reality. The number of beds and waiting lists being two examples. As individual measurements of larger problems they may be fine - however there may be solutions to the larger problem which make these numbers worse, or solutions to these individual numbers that make the larger problem worse. And I bet there are going to a be a series of targets relating to knives coming soon, despite knife crime be largely stable. Given that types of crime vary widely across the country, setting targets nationally is bonkers. Sure measuring these things can be sensible so that you can take appropriate action, but why should Bristol's police be penalised because there's a sudden increase in the availability of cheap cocaine? And given that crime figures are related to a number of things, not all of which are in the police's control, it can end up being pretty arbitrary.

6/05/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Steven:
It depends which statistics you use, and you choose to test the results. One problem with Direct Instruction used on its own is that kids tend not to read on their own, or be able to use maths outside a test, or indeed outside the narrow parameters of their instruction. And it can have dire affects on student motivation that persist throughout the school system. These are real problems that "back to basics" types tend to ignore.

I don't think there's anything wrong with these techniques used appropriately. All these approaches are fine if used appropriately, and balanced by other techniques, with kids on whom they work. The trouble is that proponents of all these theories (be it DI, or constructivist, or whatever) tend to believe there is one approach that is always right, and their belief is driven more by politics than actual evidence. The one thing that seems to be true about effective teachers is that they're quite pragmatic - the one thing that seems to be true about educational theorists is that they're not.

Incidentally, when it comes to education I'd be wary of anything based on US schools, given that the quality of US education is fairly low. This probably has more to do with institutional problems and inconsistency than anything else.

6/05/2008 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

But it is certainly true that any time you get a situation in which people actually have to be taught specific bits of information, so that they know them, in a reasonably short time (written tests for driving licences, intensive language courses, the CFA exams etc)

They're good for passing exams. I've worked with people who've done the computing versions of these courses (CISCO certification and the like) - they're not actually useful for much, unless they could do the work before getting the certificate. But that's a larger point about certification I guess. It doesn't work for teaching programming, though there are plenty of places that claim otherwise.

6/05/2008 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Cian, I think you're mixing up "The Toyota Way", which is a book about management philosophy written by Jeff Liker, and "Toyota Production System", which is a system of industrial engineering invented by Taiichi Ohno (and then popularised by Shigeo Singo). The big advantage that Toyota has is TPS and lean production - the management philosophy is, frankly, pretty touchy-feely stuff that's in fashion at the moment but no more connected to actual success than yer average buzzword bingo. Proof; Nissan did all the same kaizen, local planning etc and a) damn nearly went bust and b) had to call in a serious command-and-control expert from Renault to make things work.

6/05/2008 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Sure measuring these things can be sensible so that you can take appropriate action, but why should Bristol's police be penalised because there's a sudden increase in the availability of cheap cocaine?

same reason why my bonus depends on the stock market, which also isn't my fault - because the purpose of incentive structures isn't to give everyone a just reward for their intrinsic worth, it's to affect behaviour. If there's a sudden flood of cheap cocaine into Bristol, then you want the incentive system to reflect that.

6/05/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Great thread, by the way. Basically, the thing here is that there's a missing level of recursion, as Stafford Beer would probably have said - there's no effective check on the target-setting process, so rather than a policy process based on evidence of effectiveness, it's a management process based on evidence of compliance.

6/05/2008 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

because the purpose of incentive structures isn't to give everyone a just reward for their intrinsic worth, it's to affect behaviour

Well, it's one of them.

6/05/2008 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/06/2008 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/06/2008 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/06/2008 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Last three posts removed because they were stupid and intemperate. In the unlikely scenario that anyone read them, apologies.

6/08/2008 11:20:00 PM  

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