Monday, March 5, 2012

The age-old problem of management

Chelsea football club announced on the weekend that they are sacking their manager Andre Villas-Boas (AVB) after less than 12 months on the job.

Why is this relevant? In the midst of all the analysis one point was clear. One of the problems was that AVB was only 34 years old and was managing players who were only two years younger than him.

Sometimes this is a problem in academia. I have known of very successful young faculty members who have struggled to gain the respect needed for a good working relationship from students or postdocs who are older than them. This is a complex issue (because people are complex!). There are counter examples and every case is different but it is something to be cautious about. If you are a young faculty member think twice before you hire an older person and if you are an older student make sure you really do respect your potential advisor before you sign on.

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