Administrators and senior management seem to love coming up with new policies and procedures for everything.
These are designed to make things "better".
However, a colleague recently emphasised to me that each one of these initiatives should be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. This is a point I have also heard made by my UQ law colleague, James Allen, author of a provocative essay about Australian universities.
Consider the follow examples:
* requiring grant applications to provide more information (whether reports on previous grants, details about university policies, longer project descriptions, relevance to society, ....)
* more details in course profiles
* larger committees to ensure more input, consultation, representation of diversity, accountability, and expertise
* procedures and policies to increase transparency and accountability
* broadening eligibility criteria so more people can apply for a particular grant or fellowship program.
Every one of these initiatives has benefits.
So why might they be a bad idea?
One needs to consider the cost, particularly the opportunity cost.
Specifically, if instead of faculty spending time on these tasks what might they spend time on instead?
Mentoring graduate students and postdocs, research, preparing higher quality lectures, ....
Sometimes senior faculty simply move these tasks to junior faculty, graduate students, or junior administrative staff. However, that has a cost too. Implementing all these initiatives requires more admin staff; money that could be spent instead on hiring more faculty...
It is not just time and money. All this admin. takes mental space and sometimes reduces morale, which in the end leads to reduced productivity.