Normal Distribution & Corruption

In my experience working for different universities in Mexico, about 80% of administrators are corrupt, if by corrupt we understand using their power and influence to favor some individuals over others regardless of who has better credentials, performance and overall academic preparation. BUT I don't think this is due to them being bad people, but them being tempted by a system that allows this to happen; we don't currently have any system to prevent this from taking place.

I could give specific names with specific experiences, but I don't want to make this a personal thrust. What I intend this page to do is raise awareness of a problem that affects us all.

The way I see it, what we have is a normal distribution: About 2.35% (so to speak) of academic administrators will actually and invariably apply an objective criterion when they have to determine who gets promoted in the academic hierarchy; about 13.5% will be mostly objective, but will allow themselves to occasionally favor a friend or relative; about 68% will be objective half the time and subjective half the time (favoring friends and relatives); about 13.5% will favor relatives and friends most of the time, with only occasional objective decisions; and about 2.35% will invariably apply a subjective criterion to favor friends and relatives.

In sum, it all boils down to human nature: Only a very few individuals are able to apply self-control and take decisions based on a purely moral and ethical basis (choosing the best possible candidate for the job, not her or his closest allies in the form of friends and relatives).

Hence, what is needed, in my view, is to design, implement and constantly evaluate new hiring and promotion systems that are more transparent. At the moment, 99% of decisions taken regarding who gets employed and promoted are kept behind a huge bureaucratic wall. All instances and actors of education will claim that there are transparency mechanisms set in place, but in actuality, when we ask for specific information about how a given decision was reached (exam results item by item, open recordings of sample classes, CVs, interview recordings, etc.), bureaucracy ensures that this information never reaches us (if they did, their decisions would immediately be called into question, bringing about abrupt chaos that they don't want to deal with).

(to be continued...)