How Do You Get the Right Person for a Job to Take It?
I met a guy who has done a fantastic job of building up a department of economics at a major university. He is an impressive administrator, who clearly has both an absolute advantage and a comparative advantage at academic administration. I said that he will surely become a dean, then probably a university president, and would do a great job at both. When I told him this he replied “maybe so,” but said that he won’t become either because he doesn’t want that kind of lifestyle.
Unlike in international trade or the allocation of productive labor in an organization, when we decide how to spend our time, our personal preferences matter. Our preferences do interact with monetary incentives, but those are apparently not enough in this case to induce this man to change his lifestyle.
One can’t argue with taste; but it is a shame, given his obvious and scarce skills, that his preferences are so strong in another direction. The general problem is how to create incentives for people with these skills without providing more economic rent for mediocre people who would love to, and so often do, fill these jobs.