Paul L. Caron

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Game Theory Model Of Law Faculties: Turnover Helps Curb Antisocial Faculty Behavior

Shi-Ling Hsu (Florida State), Cooperation and Turnover in Law Faculties: A Game-Theoretic Model and Empirical Study, 101 Marq. L. Rev. ___ (2018):

A standard account of group cooperation would predict that group stability would bring about greater cooperation, because repeat-play games would allow for sanctions and rewards. In an academic unit such as a department or a law faculty, one might thus expect that faculty stability would bring about greater cooperation.

However, academic units are not like most other groups. Tenured professors face only limited sanctions for failing to cooperate, for engaging in unproductive conflict, or for shirking. This article argues counter-intuitively that within limits, some level of faculty turnover may enhance cooperation. Certainly, excessive and persistent loss of faculty is demoralizing, and reduces the number of individuals among which administrative work can be spread. But for less dire losses, faculty turnover may play the disciplining role that academic units are deprived of by the tenure system.

This article sets forth a game-theoretic model showing how the possibility of faculty turnover may induce greater cooperation in a faculty. The intuition is that while some antisocial behavior in a faculty — fighting or shirking — may garner some short-term gains at the expense of others, the possibility of exit may reduce this behavior, because loss of a colleague could be worse than the gains from fighting or shirking. Losing a colleague means probably losing a productive colleague, taking the time to replace her, and possibly replacing her with a less productive substitute. These downsides may play a role in curbing unproductive behavior in a faculty. This article presents some empirical evidence in support of the hypothesis that faculty turnover short of some excessive amount does, in fact, produce higher levels of collegiality and collaboration. ...

[T]he question remains of how to get law faculty to cooperate better and collaborate more on scholarly output. This article suggests that introducing a level of dynamism might be required, even if it impinges upon (without, it bears repeating, significantly curtailing) the institution of tenure. This article suggests some steps that may act to dis-incentivize bad behavior that may depress cooperation and collaboration: shirking and fighting. First, the institution of post-tenure review, even in its most mild and benign forms, hold great potential to bring into the open festering problems that may lead faculty to shirk or fight. Second, and following on the suggestion of instituting post-tenure reviews, involuntary sabbaticals may serve as another mechanism for both dis-incentivizing bad behavior and also defusing faculty conflicts. The chances of success for either of these processes are unclear, but the costs of instituting such procedures are far outweighed by the potential benefits of doing so. For too long, law faculties have suffered silently through intra-faculty conflicts that have been far too costly for the academy, and for law students.

Legal Education | Permalink


The New England Patriots school of faculty management!

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Dec 4, 2018 4:23:56 AM