At  every OxBridge college, there is a Wine Committee. Many people want to get on it but first you have to serve on the Use of Space Committee.  It might be fun if the latter plotted how the College could go to Mars. But what the committee really does is meet bi-monthly to decide where to put the photocopier. You grumble and serve as there is a chance you get on the Wine Committee.

Kellogg, as far as I am aware (!), has no Wine Committee so this cannot be used to give incentives. Monetary incentives are weak. This leaves moral suasion as the main instrument. For example, if a Dean looks miserable when he or she asks you to do something, you are likely to say yes. They look very, very sad after all, and so you would feel terrible if you refused them. To make Deans credibly miserable, they should be treated badly. QED.

This leaves open the question of why anyone would then want to become Dean. No-one has asked me (and no-one ever will!) so I have no practical experience. I guess moral suasion and guilt also operate there but am less clear as to the exact mechanism (e.g. “This institution has done so much for me, I should serve.”).

But I do have a solution that could make everyone happy – start a Wine Committee. Regular visits and tastings with wine distributors are enough to make many of us serve on the “where should the photocopiers be in the new building committee”.  Then, we can treat the deans well, as they deserve, without unraveling incentives and run everything more efficiently.