#higher-ed, education, university

Professors as employees?

Yesterday Frances Woolley made an interesting post on the Worthwhile Canadian Initiative blog.

Prof employees

He quotes Akerlof and Kranton’s idea that a person who identifies with her employer – an insider – will think “she should work on behalf of the firm. Her ideal is to exert high effort.” He goes on to explain that there is often a misalignment between professorial effort and university priorities. Professors can at best be relied on to strive to be good professors, but we “are motivated by our disciplinary and professional identities, not our identities as university employees”.

This is something that managers frequently forget and they should read the whole post.

During these days of transformation, budget cuts and decolonialisation of the curriculum managers often talk about what “we” will do. We will improve the university’s standing in some or other rankings, we will pursue external consulting jobs to earn third stream income for the university, we will expand into Africa, or launch a MOOC.

It is going to take more than a few big ideas to get the Professors involved.

AER, Economics, education

Academic Economics: winner-take-all or winner’s curse?

For those of you who may have missed these posts, last week saw two interesting studies of the academic economics field.

The first looked at agglomeration and peer effects in research, using data from French Economics departments. I have also thrown around some ideas about economic geography and research, but these guys have done the econometrics and have some interesting findings:

Department characteristics have an explanatory power that can be as high as that of individual characteristics. The departments that generate most externalities are those where academics are homogeneous in terms of publication performance and have diverse research fields, and, to a lesser extent, large departments, with more women, older academics, star academics and foreign co-authors. Department specialisation in a field also favours publication in that field. 

Marginal Revolution blog linked to an article with the title: An empirical guide to hiring assistant Professors in Economics. The research looked at the research productivity of PhD’s from the top programmes and predictors of the number of AER-equivalent publications at year six after graduation (when they will be applying for tenure). The finding is that the student’s rank in the class and the departmental rank are important predictors of future research productivity. The bit that was tweeted around is this: “even at Harvard the median graduate has only 0.04 AER-equivalent papers at year six”.

climate change, education, willingness to pay

Concerned about climate change?

Yesterday I received a link via our local statistician to an interesting post on the Getstats blog. It reports the result of a survey by the U.K.’s Department of Transport which shows that public concern about climate change is falling.

The proportion of adults saying they are willing to change their behaviour to limit climate change fell from 77 per cent in 2006 to 65 per cent last year.

Interestingly they find that higher levels of education is associated with greater concern about the environment and willingness to change behaviour to limit climate change.

This mirrors local work that I have been doing with the research area: Tourism Research in Economics, the Environs and Society (TREES). Below the cross-tab of data from our 2011 survey at the Two Oceans Marathon shows the following:
  • Reading down the column, within the group that indicated that they are willing to pay to mitigate climate change, 23% had Matric, 36% a diploma or degree and 25% a post-graduate qualification.
  • Reading across, of those with Matric 59% were willing to pay, of those with a diploma or degree 69% were willing to pay and of those with a post-graduate qualification 66% were willing to pay.
  • But, fewer professionals were willing to pay than any of the above groups.

This weekend at the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour we will be asking cyclists what they think needs to be done (and what they are willing to do) to make the race greener!


Willing to pay to mitigate climate change
Total
Skipped
No
Yes
Level of education
Skipped
Count
8
4
5
17
% within education
47%
24%
29%
100%
% WTP
15%
3%
2%
3%
No schooling
Count
4
1
5
10
% within education
40%
10%
50%
100%
% WTP
7%
1%
2%
2%
Matric
Count
13
37
71
121
% within education
11%
31%
59%
100%
% WTP
24%
27%
23%
24%
Diploma, degree
Count
9
42
112
163
% within education
6%
26%
69%
100%
% WTP
16%
31%
36%
32%
Post-graduate
Count
11
30
78
119
% within education
9%
25%
66%
100%
% WTP
20%
22%
25%
24%
Professional
Count
9
20
36
65
% within education
14%
31%
55%
100%
% WTP
16%
15%
12%
13%
Other
Count
1
1
5
7
% within education
14%
14%
71%
100%
% WTP
2%
1%
2%
1%