Sunday, June 13, 2010

Merit Pay

Based on the discussion following this post, I decided to open up a discussion on merit pay. Everybody is invited to express their opinions on whether everybody working at the same level for the same university or the same company should get paid the same irrespective of how much they produce and the quality of their work, or if merit pay should be accepted as a more fair practice.

My own preference is decidedly in favor of merit pay*. When I found out that my university has merit pay (which, simplified, means that every publication you produce can mean a salary raise**), I have to confess that my level of productivity tripled. I felt so happy about the merit pay not exclusively - and not even predominantly - because of a possible financial reward.What motivated me so much is the realization that through merit pay the administration of my school was demonstrating that research mattered. As I mentioned before, our funding has been frozen indefinitely. This means that I'm not likely to get my merit pay any time soon. However, the mere fact that my efforts are recognized as important by the university (and not just through empty verbiage but through a monetary reward, which is something that college administrators are always extremely unwilling to give out) matters a lot and makes me want to produce even more for the benefit of my fine educational institution.

I'd love to hear what my readers think on this subject. Are you against or on favor of merit pay and why?

* I hope it's understood that I am not talking here about the kind of quasi-merit pay instituted by the idiotic No Child Left Behind Act where teachers get merit pay for getting all the students to pass some stupid standardized multiple choice test. Everything about NCLB is beyond wrong and hardly needs to be discussed any further. It simply need to be scrapped today.

** It's obvious how different this kind of merit pay system is from the one promoted by NCLB. Making one's merit pay contingent on the effort (or lack thereof) made by other people is, of course, unfair and stupid. NCLB confuses the teacher's effort with that of the students, which is undoubtedly wrong. This is why I can't help reiterating that the entire No Child Left Behind insanity should be consigned to the garbage bin of history as of today.


Pagan Topologist said...

I certainly agree that merit pay is a good idea, and that the way it is implemented is often terrible, especially in NCLB. I wish I knew how to prevent its becoming an opportunity for favouritism by superiors towards employees they like.

Anonymous said...

But how does the university assess the quality of its employees's publications? Is the merit pay system solely based on quantity?


garima said...

Competition vs. Excellence

Every human being has an innate desire to be good, to be the best. That is why we strive to be a good father, a good mother, a good son or daughter, a good partner, husband or wife. It is this desire that manifests at the workplace too as a quest for excellence, to be good, the best in his or her field of expertise…….Read more.

Clarissa said...

Ol.: They are supposed to be "peer-reviewed articles published in journals with demonstrably low acceptance rate." (You can see how much I worked on our operation papers to have them so memorized.) There is a page in the MLA database that gives their acceptance rate, so you print it out and stick it to the article before adding it to your file.

We've had fun discussions over whether the length of articles means anything. Since my articles are not very verbose (imagine that!), we know what point of view I supported. But the good thing is that this all was decided completely between the faculty of our department, so what PT is saying about favoritism (an ever-present threat in academia) is less likely to transpire.

Anonymous said...

In theory it's great, in practice it depends. At my university it's primarily for men in certain disciplines and subfields, and from what I am told, also for women who might sleep with them.

Clarissa said...

"At my university it's primarily for men in certain disciplines and subfields, and from what I am told, also for women who might sleep with them."

-Unfortunately, true.

I'm really glad I discovered your blog, colega.