16 February 2012

Incentives to do this job

An article on the Austin American-Statesman discusses a proposal to change post-tenure review in the University of Texas system. Texas has had post-tenure review for a long time.

The details don’t interest me so much as some of the rationale for post-tenure review (my emphasis):

“It increases the accountability universities have to demonstrate to taxpayers that their money's being spent productively,” said Thomas Lindsay, director of the (Texas Public Policy Foundation)’s Center for Higher Education. “I think it's pretty unobjectionable... unless we believe faculty are alone among human beings in requiring no incentives to do their job.

I have incentives to do my job.

Incentives like pride.

Curiosity. Desire to help students. I have plenty of incentives to do my job. It’s just that a lot of them are internal. They matter to me, not just because of the dollar value. If I was only interested in external incentives (i.e., money), I would have pursued a different career.

I don’t buy Lindsay’s implication that the only reason anyone does anything, ever, is because there is some external carrot or stick.

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