Thursday 30 April 2009

Incentives matter: Canterbury edition

Some members of the Department of Economics met with the University's Director of Green to be educated in newthink and the new way of rubbish collection on campus. While campus janitorial services will continue picking up litter from hallways and from the sidewalks below our windows, they will no longer empty our office rubbish bins. Instead, we're expected to carry individual used tissues and banana peels from our offices to a central garbage area elsewhere in the Department where we get to puzzle out into which of several rubbish bins individual bits of rubbish ought be placed. The Director of Green argues that carrying bits of rubbish from our offices to the central bins is of zero cost for academic staff. Perhaps next we'll be asked to vacuum the carpets as we walk to and from our offices. I think they're wrong about the costliness of hauling used tissues down the hallway and are underestimating the attractiveness of the aforementioned cheaper alternatives. This won't end well for anybody.

My line managers should note that I am only here pointing out the obvious incentive effects; any increase in rubbish found in the hallways or outside my window post the change has absolutely nothing to do with me.

Dilbert comic is the 25 September 2008 edition.